South Australians will play a crucial role in maintaining and supporting the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft at RAAF Base Edinburgh, after a new deal was signed with Boeing Defence Australia which is creating 40 new jobs. Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said Boeing’s six-year contract would deliver support services to deliver cutting-edge surveillance and response capabilities. The initial A$300 ($215) million contract provides a highly experienced maintenance, engineering and logistics workforce to Defence. This will grow the workforce to over 160 from Boeing and their sub-contracted personnel from Airbus Australia Pacific, delivering vital services to the P-8A capability.
On 20 July 2007, the Australian Minister for Defence announced that the P-8A was the preferred aircraft to replace the Royal Australian Air Force fleet of Lockheed AP-3C Orions in conjunction with a then yet-to-be-selected unmanned aerial vehicle. The last AP-3C is scheduled to be retired in 2018, after nearly 30 years of service. In July 2013, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, head of the RAAF, said Australia was considering buying more P-8s and fewer MQ-4C Triton UAVs than earlier planned. On 21 February 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the intention to procure eight P-8s plus options for four more; entry into service is planned for 2021.
In July 2014, negotiations commenced between Boeing and the Department of Defense to integrate the AGM-84 Harpoon Block 1G anti-ship missile onto the P-8A on Australia’s behalf. In August 2014, the USN concluded an advanced acquisition contract on the first four of up to 12 P-8As to be bought by Australia, with delivery expected from 2017. In January 2016, Australia ordered a further four P-8s. The 2016 Defence White Paper stated that eight P-8s would be in service in the early 2020s and that 15 P-8s are planned for by the late 2020s. Including support facilities, the first group of eight aircraft’s total cost is estimated at $3.6 billion (AU$4 billion).
The Boeing P-8 Poseidon (formerly Multimission Maritime Aircraft) is a military aircraft developed and produced by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, modified from the 737-800ERX. It was developed for the United States Navy (USN). The RAAF accepted its first P-8 on 27 September 2016; it arrived in Australia on 14 November. The RAAF has received 12 P-8As by 13 December 2019. The P-8 is operated by the United States Navy, the Indian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF). It has also been ordered by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF), the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), and the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).