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N Zealand Air Force receives first upgraded P-3K2 Orion aircraft

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AIR FORCE BASE WHENUAPAI (BNS): The Royal New Zealand Air Force has received its first upgraded P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft from the Defence Ministry.

The aircraft, which underwent modernisation in Texas, US, was handed over to the air force on Monday during a ceremony at Air Force Base Whenuapai.

Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell said the upgraded aircraft represents a significant advance in technology and will introduce a fundamental change to the capability of No. 5 Squadron as they transition from their traditional role as a Maritime Patrol Force to an Airborne Surveillance and Response Force.

The refurbished P-3K2 Orion (formerly the P3) features enhanced communication, navigation, surveillance and data management systems; a state-of-the-art glass flight deck and mission preparation and analysis systems. It is fitted with new crew training and software testing and integration tools.

The aircraft will now undergo a period of Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E), which will enable the crews to develop the procedures to optimise safe and effective use of the new systems to maximise the capability of the transformed aircraft.

Five other P-3K Orions of the RNZAF are undergoing modernisation in Blenheim, New Zealand.

The upgrades will enable the aircraft to remain in service till 2025.

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