NATION

P3K2 Orion Shows Fiji Its Worth

The New Zealand Air Force P3K2 Orion aircraft conducted a fly past and a demonstration of its capability in response to natural disasters  over Kadavu, Suva Harbour and Laucala Bay
25 Mar 2018 14:58
P3K2 Orion Shows Fiji Its Worth
From left: P3K2 Orion crew Kate Galbraith, Jack Xion, John Breretoh and Heather Lennon inside the P3K2 Orion aircraft on March 23,2018.Photo: Simione Haravanua.

The New Zealand Air Force P3K2 Orion aircraft conducted a fly past and a demonstration of its capability in response to natural disasters  over Kadavu, Suva Harbour and Laucala Bay on Friday.

P3K2 Orion Captain Jonathan Pound said  the flight was a demonstration of the capabilities the 5 Squadron had and the assistance they could provide for Fijians.

The P3K2 is the aircraft of the 5 Squadron that was originally in Laucala Bay in the 1940s through to 1967.

The demonstration on Friday was done in three phases.

“The first phase was we went out with our radar and we found out all the fishing vessels and we simulated that some of these fishing boats were not licensed so we went close and took photos just to make sure they were obeying the rules,” Captain Pound said.

“This is something that we do quite regularly in Fijian waters. We patrol and provide information back to relevant authorities in Fiji. We also do it in other Pacific nations as well.

“Another thing is yachts and pleasure crafts will check Customs and make sure the coming and going as they suppose to … and if they get into trouble we will go in and search for them using the same process.”

The second phase was to show NZAF humanitarian aid response where the P3K2 Orion navigated an island and searched for damage caused by tropical cyclones.

On the request of the Commissioner Eastern, the aircraft flew around  Suva.

Captain Pound said: “We out  here with 14-member crew  plus four maintenance members to keep the air craft serviceable.”

“It’s a very proud moment for myself. I’m gonna be meeting some veterans later on tonight and I look forward to sharing stories with them.

“It’s a very proud moment for not only me but the rest of the crew in 5 squadron as well.”

New Zealand Deputy High Commissioner Halia Haddad reiterated Fiji and New Zealand’s long-standing friendship that goes back many decades.

“Given Fiji’s exclusive economic zones 1.2 million square kilometres that is something that we are very happy to help Fiji out on. The demonstrations flight today included an example of what they detect and detour illegal fishing vessels and it’s very important in Fiji’s development … it’s the expectation of its resources and for fishing revenue.”

Divisional Commissioner Easter Luke Moroivalu said with the increase in illegal fishing, drug trafficking and other illegal activities, the assistance of the P3K2 surveillance should be able to track them down and control Fiji’s borders.

“After natural disasters, the equipment on the aircraft can show the actual damage caused by the cyclone after it happened. These equipment makes mobility and communications very easy after a natural disaster,” Mr Moroivalu said.

Edited by Percy kean

Feedback:  simione.haravanua@fijisun.com.fj

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