Australia’s first fleet of P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft is complete following the arrival of the 12th Boeing-built aircraft at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia.
Announced by the Australian Government, the delivery caps off a process that began with the arrival of the first P-8A in Australia in November 2016.
The P-8As have already been used for Australian border protection surveillance (Operation Resolute); in a multi-national effort to monitor the movement of maritime cargo into North Korea (Operation Argos), and to support international efforts to promote maritime security in the Middle East (Operation Manitou).
The P-8A Poseidon and the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft (UAS), are replacing the AP-3C Orion aircraft.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the cutting edge anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft will enhance Australia’s maritime security.
“The aircraft can be refuelled while flying by tanker aircraft such as Australia’s KC-30A, making it possible to patrol Australia’s isolated Southern Ocean territories,” Minister Reynolds said.
The 2016 Australian Defence White Paper flagged 15 new Poseidon P8-As with the Australian Government so far committing to 12. The White Paper also flagged seven unmanned MQ-4C Triton aircraft to complement the P8-A on border patrol and maritime surveillance. Two of an initial six of the unmanned Tritons have been approved with the first aircraft expected to be delivered to the RAAF in 2023.
The P-8A Poseidon was on show alongside several other recent RAAF acquisitions including the F-35A Joint Strike at the Edinburgh Air Show last month, the first major RAAF air show held in South Australia since 2007.
RAAF Base Edinburgh is home to 3500 RAAF and Australian Army personnel and key defence primes including BAE Systems, Raytheon Australia and Airbus Group Australia Pacific.
Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP, said the Australian Government was investing $470 million to deliver new and upgraded facilities and significant airfield works at RAAF Base Edinburgh to support the introduction of the P-8A aircraft.
“This has provided a boost to Defence Industry and created more than 120 jobs for South Australians,” Minister Price said.