P-3K2 Orion En Route in Aircraft Search Mission


A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion

11 March 2014

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion is on the last leg of its journey to assist in the search mission for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

The Orion left New Zealand yesterday after the Malaysian Government accepted New Zealand’s offer to join the international search and rescue (SAR) effort.

“The RNZAF and No 5 Squadron, which provides the Airborne Surveillance and Reconnaissance Force, has very strong historical and traditional ties with Malaysia as the Squadron regularly operates out of Malaysia on Exercise,” said Commander of Joint Forces New Zealand Air-Vice Marshal Kevin Short.

The RNZAF operates the highly upgraded P-3K2 variant. Other countries that operate the P-3 Orion include Australia, Japan, and the United States.
The P-3K2 Orion has a range of sensors from Radar, direction finding, electro optics and many observation stations making it an ideal SAR option.

“The aircraft has a very low level flight capability and has very good sensors to search large areas, and remain airborne within the search area for more than 10 hours, depending on the distance from airfields,” he said.

The aircraft will be based at the Butterworth air base in Penang during its mission.

For more information please contact;
Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980.

The P-3K2 provides airborne surveillance of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Pacific region and the Southern Ocean, including Antarctica in support of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

They provide a range of services to Government agencies (including Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Customs and Police) and the community including search and rescue missions, humanitarian relief and in support of natural disasters.

Aircraft:   P-3K2 Orion
Manufacturer:  Lockheed (USA)
Powered plant:  Four Allison T56-A 14 engines (4 600 shaft horsepower)
Length:  36m (117ft)
Wingspan:  30.4m (99ft)
Height:  10.3m (34ft)
Basic Weight: 30.450kgs (67 000lbs)
Gross Weight:  54 950kgs (127 500lbs)
Max Fuel:  27300kgs (60 000lbs)
Cruising Speed:  630km/h (340kts)
Ferry range:   approx. 7.100km (3.850NM)

Typical performance
Radius of action of 1 850km (1 000NM) with 4 hours on station. Endurance of 15hrs with two engines shut down to conserve fuel.

This page was last reviewed on 11 March 2014.