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P3K Orion Upgrade




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Blast From the Past


























Chairman’s Message to 2018 AGM

Minutes AGM 2018

 Photos of the Laucala Bay Monument Event 2018

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P–3K2 Orion aircraft achieved several tasks in a single mission recently in the latest example of how the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) supports other government agencies. 

Within an eight–hour period, the Orion was a hive of activity as it completed tasks in support of the Department of Conservation (DOC), GNS Science and New Zealand Customs. Three hours after taking off on a wet and humid Auckland morning, the crew, led by aircraft captain Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Rod Olliff, airdropped about 100kg of mail and supplies for DOC staff based on Raoul Island in the Kermadecs, about 1,100km northeast of Auckland. Bad weather the previous week scuttled the airdrop. 

“The NZDF’s support is crucial to our work in the Kermadecs and provides a vital lifeline to our staff who are based in that remote region,” Louisa Gritt, DOC’s Operations Manager – Northland District, said. 

Twice a year, the NZDF sends resupply ships to Raoul Island to bring vital supplies and equipment to support the activities of DOC, MetService and GNS Science. Orion aircraft are also regularly tasked to airdrop supplies on their way to or from the Pacific. “Although it rarely happens, being able to rely on the NZDF for medical evacuations and other emergencies gives us that level of assurance while we do our work,” Ms Gritt said. 

With their long endurance, search sensors and electro–optic cameras, the Orions have cemented their role as “our eyes in the sky”, SQNLDR Olliff said

. “They provide a great platform to conduct resource and border protection patrols in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, aerial surveys in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and search and rescue missions in New Zealand and the Pacific,” he added. 

On this particular mission, the aircraft captured imagery of Curtis Island, an emergent part of an underwater volcano in the Kermadecs. 

Discovered in 1887, the island has been uplifted about 18m in the last 200 years, with a seven–metre uplift occurring between 1929 and 1964. 

GNS Science volcanologist Brad Scott said the aerial photos taken by the Orion would provide background images for comparison should more uplift occur. 

“There are also geothermal manifestations on the island such as springs, fumaroles and mud pools, and the images will help us map changes they’ve undergone,” Mr Scott explained.

During the Kermadecs trip, the Orion crew also located eight yachts and one merchant vessel with minor engine troubles during a border protection patrol that they conducted in support of the NZ Customs Service.

 “Customs is tasked with protecting New Zealand’s border from potential risks or threats. We assess the risks posed by people, goods and craft crossing the border using various methods, and the partnership we have with the NZDF is a key component of our layered defence,” Customs’ Liaison Officer at the National Maritime Coordination Centre said. 

He said the overt NZDF presence, as demonstrated by the Orion, has also increased awareness of maritime patrols and served as a deterrent to potential illegal activity. 

“NZDF’s support and assistance is of great significance and value. It enriches our maritime operating picture and supports the deployment of resources during heightened arrivals or departure seasons and ensures timely response to targeted vessels of interest,” the Customs Liaison Officer said. 

The New Zealand Defence Force is sending a warship, two aircraft, a helicopter and more than 300 personnel to take part in the world’s largest international maritime military exercise. Twenty–six nations, 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, scheduled from June 27 to August 2 around Hawaii and southern California. New Zealand’s contingent includes the frigate HMNZS Te Mana, specialist divers from HMNZS Matataua, an air surveillance and reconnaissance force including two P–3K2 Orion aircraft, logistics and support elements, and Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN), New Zealand Army and RNZAF personnel. RNZN Captain Blair Gerritsen will have a key role as the Sea Combat Commander, responsible for commanding the at–sea defence of the Expeditionary Strike Group, employing escort ships and their helicopters plus shore–based aircraft.

The Expeditionary Strike Group will include nine frigates and destroyers and Captain Gerritsen will control the movement of all the ships and will plan and direct the defence of the group against a range of air, surface and sub–surface threats. “The opportunity to command such a capable force drawn from so many different nations and within a challenging exercise scenario is a fantastic opportunity for the NZDF and for the individuals involved,” he said

The theme of the exercise is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners”. Participating nations and forces will test a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series and is hosted by the United States Navy. Major General Tim Gall, the Commander of Joint Forces New Zealand, said the exercise provided a unique training opportunity that helped foster and sustain the cooperative relationships with allies and partners.

 “This is critical to ensure the freedom of the seas and security on the world’s oceans,” Major General Gall said. “More than 300 NZDF personnel will participate in RIMPAC this year and will conduct a wide range of operations and exercises, including amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti–submarine and air defence exercises, as well as counter– piracy, mine–clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.” RNZAF No. 5 Squadron will have two crews and two P–3K2 Orion aircraft participating.

They will both conduct up to nine missions and engage in a combination of warfare scenarios, hunting and tracking submarines and working with the maritime patrol community. Along with maritime security and warfighting exercises around Hawaii, NZDF assets, featuring a detachment from the Navy’s operational dive and mine countermeasures unit HMNZS Matataua, will participate in amphibious operations in southern California. RNZN frigate HMNZS Te Mana will be one of the nine escort ships making up the Expeditionary Strike Group, centred on five large amphibious ships from the United States, Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. \

The first RIMPAC, held in 1971, involved navies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The RNZN was involved frequently until the ANZUS nuclear ship dispute in the 1980s. In 2010 the NZDF attended in an observer role, and was a full participant in 2012, 2014 and 2016. 



5 Squadron RNZAF Trophy presentation to Cpl Alex McLean at the 20th AGM June 2018.


Laucala Bay Monument

Note the symbolism that the artist, Shane Bower from Savusavu, has created with the wings of a giant seabird (albatross) mounted above the representative fuselage - the lower half of which is a Sunderland wing float. more








The Government will spend $2.3 billion on four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to replace its ageing P-3 Orions.

They will be delivered and begin operations from 2023.

Middle East Surveillence


RNZAF Orion and Crew Busy on Multiple Fronts in South West Pacific

The Orion has been sent to deliver mail to Raoul Island, survey signs of activity from an underwater volcano, and conduct maritime surveillance patrols in support of Pacific Island nations. The crew will also brief officials in Niue about the NZDF’s maritime surveillance and search and rescue operations in the region.

“This is a perfect example of the range of tasks we do in support of other New Zealand government agencies, as well as our South West Pacific neighbours,” Group Captain Shaun Sexton, the Acting Air Component Commander, said.

“The other driver, of course, is efficiency. Whenever we send an aircraft to do a job, it usually has three to four other tasks to complete. That way we get a lot more done from a single mission.”

Squadron Leader Jimmy Peters, the aircraft captain, said the first item on the Orion’s to-do list was to air-drop about 130 kilograms of mail for Department of Conservation staff based in the remote Kermadec Islands.

The aircraft will also survey Monowai, an active underwater volcano halfway between Tonga and the Kermadecs, for GNS Science.

On Friday (NZT), a 17-member team led by Squadron Leader Peters will brief officials from several Niue government agencies, including the Niue Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Niue Police, about the NZDF’s maritime surveillance and search and rescue capabilities. They will also give Niue officials a quick tour of the Orion.

Squadron Leader Peters said he expected “mutually beneficial discussions” with Niue officials following the briefing.

“It’s good to have these face-to-face engagements where we can chat about how we conduct search and rescue and maritime patrols and also gain an understanding of their expectations,” he said.

“This is essential, so we can wrk together smoothly if and when required in the future.”

The NZDF regularly sends aircraft and ships to conduct maritime surveillance patrols in support of South West Pacific countries. In 2017, RNZAF planes flew 114 hours on nine search and rescue missions in the Pacific.



75th Anniversary 1941-2016

MOTAT and Whenuapai events photo collection



A Blast From the Past

Here is a series of links kindly provided by Robin Klitscher. These links are pieces written
by Robin K which will be of interest to members, particularly the web-footers.

Recently digitised footage of Laucala bay

Sunderland Veterans Rolling Back The years

Facebook Slideshow  

With thanks from Wings Over New Zealand

5 Squadron RNZAF Association Trophy Recipients

The award includes a printed copy of the citation and an inscribed plaque to be retained by the recipient. 

K i w i  O r i o n s     




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