There are sad faces around Whenuapai today as the RNZAF retires the first of its five Lockheed Orions.
The aircraft is flying to Woodbourne for breaking and parting – essentially for spares.
The Orions came into service in 1966 and have become a familiar presence in the south Pacific, saving countless missing fishermen and yacht crews.
The first of four Boeing P-8A Poseidons is due in NZ in 2023 to replace the old Lockheeds.
Our contacts are also lamenting the current state of the air force’s transport. We understand only two of five Lockheed Hercules are currently airworthy while the service is down to only one Boeing 757 – the other one is in for engineering work and engine installation.
No 40 Squadron hopes there won’t be a sudden demand for air transport, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.
Old hands put the current state of decay down to decades of inattention and under-funding by successive governments.