Boeing Australia has been awarded a $43.4 million (A$60 million) contract to provide maintenance services for the P-8A Poseidon fleet at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Edinburgh. The aircraft serves as a key part of Australia’s future maritime patrol and response strategy. The RAAF took delivery of its first P-8A aircraft in 2016 and all 12 aircraft were delivered by 2019. In 2020, the Australian Government approved the purchase of two additional aircraft, taking the total units in the fleet to 14. In September this year, the RAAF’s fleet of P-8A Poseidon fleet successfully completed an extensive modification programme.
Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said: “The P-8A Poseidon is one of the most advanced maritime patrol and response platforms in the world. This new contract with Boeing Australia to maintain the Poseidon fleet is an important contribution to Defence’s mission. It brings heavy maintenance work to Australia that would otherwise have been performed in the United States.”
Australian Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said: “That the contracts contribute to the country’s continued advanced capability development and maintenance. These new contracts will see an additional 21 jobs created at Supashock and 37 at Boeing Australia, as well as supporting more than 100 jobs throughout Australia’s broader defence industry supply chain.”
The Boeing P-8 Poseidon (formerly Multimission Maritime Aircraft) is an American maritime patrol aircraft developed and produced by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, modified from the 737-800ERX. It was developed for the United States Navy (USN). 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 a militarized version of the 737-800ERX, a 737-800 with 737-900-based wings. The fuselage is similar to, but longer than, the 737-700-based C-40 Clipper transport aircraft in service with the USN. The P-8 has a strengthened fuselage for low-altitude operations and raked wingtips similar to those fitted to the Boeing 767-400ER, instead of the blended winglets available on 737NG variants. In order to power additional onboard electronics, the P-8 has a 180kVA electric generator on each engine, replacing the 90kVA generator of civilian 737s; this required the redesigning of the nacelles and their wing mountings.