Royal Australian Air Force Boeing P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft

Royal Australian Air Force to Acquire Two More Boeing P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft

The Australian Department of Defence announced, Royal Australian Air Force’s maritime patrol capability will be boosted with Australia set to acquire two more Boeing P-8A Poseidon surveillance and response aircraft, bringing the total fleet size to 14. The additional Poseidon aircraft are to be purchased through Royal Australian Air Force existing Cooperative Program with the United States Navy. The planned integration of the Long Range Anti-ship Missile (LRASM) into Air Force capability will also allow it to strike adversary surface vessels at significantly increased ranges. The Government has also approved sustainment funding for the current approved fleet of three MQ-4C Triton aircraft. Being part of the Cooperative Program with the United States Navy allows Australia to share in the benefits of their technical expertise and divide project costs.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said,”The announcement is part of the Morrison Government’s unprecedented $270 billion investment in defence capability over the next decade. Together, the Poseidon and the Triton will provide Australia with one of the most advanced maritime patrol and response capabilities in the world. The Poseidon is a proven capability that will conduct tasks including anti-submarine warfare, maritime and overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and support to search and rescue missions. These additional aircraft will enhance Air Force’s flexibility to support multiple operations and will play an important role in ensuring Australia’s maritime region is secure for generations to come.”

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft and P-8A Poseidon aircraft have conducted low level, fast flying operations over the Gulf St Vincent in support of the sea acceptance trials of HMAS Hobart (DDG 39). (Photo by CPL Craig Barrett/Australian Department of Defence)

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. In July 2014, negotiations commenced between Boeing and the US Department of Defense to integrate the AGM-84 Harpoon Block 1G anti-ship missile onto the P-8A on Australia’s behalf. Including support facilities, the first group of eight aircraft’s total cost is estimated at $3.6 billion (AU$4 billion). 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 Australian Government approved ordering of two additional aircraft on 30 December 2020.

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. The P-8 operates in the anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction roles. It is armed with torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons, can drop and monitor sonobuoys, and can operate in conjunction with other assets, including the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The P-8 is operated by the United States Navy, the Indian Navy, the 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).

Royal Australian Air Force Boeing P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraftaircraft have conducted low level, fast flying operations over the Gulf St Vincent in support of the sea acceptance trials of HMAS Hobart (DDG 39). (Photo by CPL Craig Barrett/Australian Department of Defence)