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5 Squadron takes part in the World’s largest Exercise RIMPAC

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII (July 3, 2012) RNZAF P-3K Orion from No. 5 Sqn lands at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. After the P-3K shut its engines, the NZ flag was raised above it.
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII (July 3, 2012) RNZAF P-3K Orion from No. 5 Sqn lands at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. After the P-3K shut its engines, the NZ flag was raised above it.  Photo USN 120703-O-ZZ999-037-NZ1 courtesy of the US Navy.

Number 5 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force is ready to take part in the world’s largest maritime military exercise. RIMPAC, Exercise Rim of the Pacific is a biennial gathering of a diverse range of countries which border the Pacific Ocean. A P-3K Orion and aircrew from 5 SQN, based in Auckland, have traded the wintry chills of New Zealand for the sunny skies of Hawaii. However, it won’t be a summer holiday as the crew prepare themselves for a challenging series of missions.

The crew will operate out of the US Marine Corps Base at Kaneohe Bay. Home to four US Navy Squadrons of P-3 Orions, the base is now at maximum capacity with its latest guests. As well as the New Zealand P-3K, Orions have arrived from Canada, Australia, Japan, The Republic of Korea and extra US Navy aircraft from around the Continental US. RIMPAC provides the RNZAF a rare opportunity to work in a large coalition environment, made all the more difficult by the diversity of languages and cultures. However, it is through exercises like RIMPAC that our aircrew learn to operate with our Pacific neighbours and are better prepared to work together improving regional stability and providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The Air Force team are now attending a variety of exercise briefings and meetings designed to help familiarise themselves with the local military airspace and procedures; an essential element before they take to the skies. During this time they will start working with the large number of ships and submarines, including a US Aircraft Carrier, whilst honing their surveillance and response skills.

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