12 Oct 2014

RNZAF to send planes to Middle East

6:40 am on 12 October 2014

Two Air Force planes will depart for the Middle East next week to support counter-piracy operations in the Persian Gulf.

NZ Airforce Orion arrives back in Whenuapai after weeks spent searching for the missing Malaysian airliner

A RNZAF Orion arrives back in Whenuapai, New Zealand, after a previous deployment in 2014. Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion will leave on Monday and a Boeing 757 will leave on Wednesday.

Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy said he could not comment on whether the contingent could be re-deployed to fight against the Islamic State group which has been seizing territory in Iraq and Syria.

He said any such re-deployment would be the Prime Minister's decision, and the current personnel movement is just a routine rotation.

"The Orion aircraft is a routine changeover for the aircraft that's already out there and the Boeing will be taking the rest of the detachment."

A total of 47 Defence Force personnel are going as part of the rotation and will join a multi-national initiative to combat piracy and drug-trafficking in the Gulf.

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