ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE BASE OHAKEA, New Zealand -- The ‘Red Lancers’ of Patrol Squadron (VP) 10 demonstrated the capabilities of the P-8A Poseidon for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) on Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, October 19-27.
One P-8A aircraft, along with nine aircrew members and nine aircraft maintainers conducted flight operations within the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of New Zealand and Fiji.
VP-10 showcased a static display of the P-8A, executed three mission flights and one MK-39 Expendable Mobile Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Target (EMATT) flight. Members of the RNZAF were able to gain familiarity with the aircraft during flight operations and anti-submarine warfare training.
Military and civilian New Zealanders expressed excitement upon the arrival of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft and the C-130 Hercules from the United States.
“We’re receiving four new P-8s and five new C-130Js from the U.S., which is amazing for New Zealand,” said Pilot Officer Andrew Lindsay, RNZAF. “There has never been a better time to be in the RNZAF. I’m excited to be part of the new military generation.”
During the three days of mission flights, VP-10 conducted surveillance and took photographs of fishing vessels of interest.
“Most fishing vessels abide by maritime law; with their transponder on, correctly identifying their vessel category and flying their flag of origin,” said Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Andrew Sunde, RNZAF. “Sometimes we will find fishing vessels misidentify themselves or conduct illegal fishing practices within an exclusive economic zone. International organizations may find fishermen from third world countries extorted for their labor by entities that do not abide by the basic human rights that are standard in New Zealand and the U.S.”
Using the P-8’s onboard MX-20 camera, VP-10 found a fishing vessel that misidentified itself carrying fishing gear within Fiji’s EEZ.
“Sometimes these fishermen operate in poor conditions and work for low pay months on out,” Sunde continued. “The fishing vessels will stay in the area while another ship will come pick up the fishing products in sea and sell for profit. For the fishermen who abide by maritime law, it is nice for them to see us here while they’re fishing in the deep sea. It’s like seeing a police officer patrol on your street. When fishermen see patrol aircraft in the area, it encourages them and others to continue to conduct lawful fishing practices.”
VP-10 photographed and identified six fishing vessels over the span of three days. “We want to assist Fiji to enforce legal fishing practices within its exclusive economic zone,” said Andrew Sunde. “New Zealand and our allies believe in human rights, safe working conditions and sustainable fishing practices.”
The ‘Red Lancers’ had the opportunity to volunteer 76 manhours of community service with Whatunga Tūao Volunteer Central. VP-10 weeded and mulched a corner section of Edwards Pit Park in Palmerston North, NZ. Squadron members were given a blessing by the local Māori tribe Rangitāne, planted a commemorative tree donated by Leafland Tree Nursery and were provided a grilled breakfast donated by the Mad Butcher outlet.
VP-10, based out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, is currently operating from Misawa Air Base in Misawa, Japan. The squadron conducts Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance as well as theater outreach operations as part of a rotational deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.