23 April, 2011
Orion upgrade a massive leap in capability
Today’s arrival in New Zealand of the first upgraded Royal New Zealand Air Force P3K2 Orion aircraft represents a quantum leap forward for the Air Force, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says. The aircraft landed at the Whenuapai air force base in Auckland from the United States late this afternoon.
Dr Mapp said that the Government has made the delivery of the Orion upgrade a top priority since taking office.
“The poor management of the previous Government led to substantial delays. The project has taken far longer than we wanted.
“This project means a great deal to the RNZAF and the Ministry of Defence. Today is a significant milestone for them,” he said.
The $373 million upgrade includes improved surveillance, reconnaissance, navigation and communication systems. The upgrade project will also deliver crew trainers, and software testing and integration tools.
“This puts the Air Force at the forefront of technology. The Orion will now have vastly more capability across its whole range of missions, from military operations through to search and rescue, supporting our Pacific relationships and effective monitoring of our Exclusive Economic Zone," the Minister said.
“This also enables a significant and fundamental expansion in the Orion’s role. Along with its traditional maritime focus, it will now have tremendous capability for overland operations.
"The systems upgrade complements the earlier airframe upgrades. Together, they will see the Orion through to 2025.”
This aircraft was upgraded by L3 Systems and sub-contractors based in Greenville, Texas. The second and subsequent aircraft will be completed by Safe Air in Blenheim, and the first of those will be delivered in about three months.