Defence Force To Chalk Up 365 Days On Middle East Operation

23 July 2015

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) will mark one year conducting anti-piracy maritime surveillance in the Middle East at the end of July. The RNZAF P-3K2 aircraft and crew are deployed as part of the Combined Maritime Forces multinational partnership to promote security and stability in the waters surrounding the Middle East.

The first Orion aircraft and crew left Base Auckland on 01 August 2014 and there have been several rotations of aircraft and crew over the past twelve months. Today an Orion aircraft and crew left the Base en-route to the Middle East to take over from the current crew.

Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Mike Yardley says the New Zealand contribution to the deployment is highly appreciated.

“The Orion is a hugely popular asset for the Combined Maritime Forces. The information provided by our aircraft and intelligence personnel has helped locate and intercept vessels involved in illegal activities including piracy and drug smuggling,” he says.

Recently the Orion helped the Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS TE KAHA intercept 260 kilograms of heroin worth NZ$235 million from drug smuggling vessels in the Western Indian Ocean.

“Over the past twelve months the Orion has conducted more than one hundred and twenty maritime surveillance flights in the region. With flights lasting between 8 – 10 hours each the crew are able to provide a comprehensive real-time picture back to the operation headquarters about what is happening on these waters.

“This deployment contributes to New Zealand’s security and prosperity by its role in the protection of a vital route for global commerce. Eighty-five percent of New Zealand exports by value are transported by sea,” says Air Vice-Marshal Yardley.

The New Zealand Defence Force is working with 30 other nations in the Combined Maritime Forces, which enhances our multi-lateral relationships as well as providing our personnel with invaluable experience working alongside other militaries.


For more information contact Defence Public Affairs 021 487 980

This page was last reviewed on 23 July 2015.