The birth of the Lockheed Orion

The origins of the Lockheed Orion date back to 1957 when the United States Navy identified the need for a replacement for their Lockheed Neptune and Martin Marlin maritime patrol aircraft.

A more advanced aircraft was required that was capable of both maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare. At the time, Lockheed had the Electra airliner in the early stages of flight testing, and they put forward a proposal to develop a military version of this aircraft. An initial research and development contract was awarded by the United States Navy in April 1958 and the first prototype flew in August the same year. The first operational aircraft entered service in April 1961.

Since then, the Orion has gone on to operate with 20 military services world-wide, including the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).