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Minister farewells P3 Orion

Minister farewells P3 Orion

Minister of Defence Mark Burton farewelled the crew of an RNZAF P3 Orion today, prior to their deployment to begin their role in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). 40 Air Force personnel, including aircrew and support staff, will also form part of the deployment. They departed separately on 8 and 10 May.

The aircraft and crew will operate within a multinational force and contribute to the Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO) in the Gulf of Oman. The P3 will join HMNZS Te Mana, currently patrolling with the Canadian-led Coalition Task Group in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. The Task Group’s role is to gather information and intelligence and, if necessary, identify and detain Al Quada and Taliban personnel.

Mark Burton stressed that the work of OEF was far from complete.

“Terrorism continues to be a threat to international security, and this deployment recognises the need for New Zealand to work closely with others globally to counter that threat.

“The Orion will make a valuable contribution to the work of the MIO. Its tasks will comprise the detection, identification and surveillance of surface vessels—duties that are essentially equivalent to the EEZ patrols performed by the Orion aircraft on a regular basis in local waters.”

Speaking to the departing crew, Mark Burton expressed his pride in the NZDF’s involvement with OEF.

“No responsible country takes lightly the decision to commit its young men and women to military activity of any kind overseas. You can all take pride in knowing that your deployment is part of a commitment to stand alongside other nations who oppose those who would use cowardly acts of terror to further their own aims.

“I know that your role as part of Operation Enduring Freedom will add further to the NZDF’s international reputation. New Zealand’s service men and women—be they Air Force, Army, or Navy—have always had a proud tradition, and I know your work throughout this deployment will carry this tradition on.

“I am confident that we are sending world class personnel who will acquit themselves with honour and distinction, whatever the challenges.”

The P3 Orion is expected to remain with MIO until November 2003.

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