Testing warfare skills

Corporal Portia Havill looks out the window of an RNZAF Orion P-3K2 surveillance aircraft on patrol above New Zealand waters

A young Mangawhai woman and former Otamatea High School student is embarking on her dream job, practising anti-submarine warfare tactics in Micronesia.

Corporal Portia Havill, 24, is an air warfare specialist with the Royal New Zealand Air Force and is part of a detachment taking part in the two-week Guam-based training exercise.

The exercise uses a surveillance aircraft and support team and will practise anti-submarine warfare skills alongside forces from the United States and the Japanese Self-Defence Force.

Corporal Havill said it was challenges like these that drew her to the RNZAF.

“I knew that I did not want to just go to university like everyone else,” she said.

Having seen advertisements on television, she started researching career options before she narrowed down the airforce as the defence career experience after being, as she put it, “that kid who asks all the annoying questions.”

Fuelled by the promise of job variety, her first big exercise was Pacific Rim, the world’s biggest maritime exercise in 2016. Attending the exercise and working alongside 26 nations, 45 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel off the Hawaiian Islands confirmed to her that she had made the right career choice.

“I’d recommend it to everyone. The job has proved to be everything I was looking for.”


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