Orion arrives home from Middle East Deployment

18 February 2015

An Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft and crew returned to Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Auckland at Whenuapai  today from ongoing Middle East counter-piracy and security operations.

Operating with the 30 nations of  the Combined Maritime Force,  the aircraft and crew were part of an effort to reduce the presence of pirates, and their vessels, in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean region.

"We've had an aircraft and supporting detachment of around 50 personnel deployed since July 2014," said the Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Kevin McEvoy.

"Our aircraft upgrades, including new sensor equipment, are proving highly effective and our people have been well trained. They have proved their worth in the coalition, and New Zealand continues to make a valuable contribution to reducing the funding of crime and terrorism, including involvement in a multi-million dollar drug bust."
Originally planned to be five months in duration, the mission was extended by the Government as part of New Zealand's ongoing international commitment to global security.
"This crew has been replaced by another aircraft and crew and the mission is now programmed to conclude in December 2015," AIRCDRE McEvoy said.

"We are extremely proud of our people. They have proved themselves to be an effective and professional force. The whole-team effort includes amazing family support for our deployed personnel, which has been a critical part of our efforts as a force for good.

"The effort in the Middle East is a very visible contribution to the global community. Other recent Air Force activities include Boeing operations to Antarctica, Hercules support to the Cook Islands during an energy crisis, and Orions supporting our Pacific partners with Exclusive Economic Zone patrols.

"The crew will now take a well-earned rest, before resuming operations closer to home around New Zealand and the Pacific region, or wherever they are needed," he concluded.