Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea welcomed the arrival of a third P-8A Poseidon on 19 May, following a long flight from the Boeing Company’s workshops in Seattle. No. 5 Squadron will operate four Poseidons, which replace their predecessors, the P-3K2 Orions. The squadron’s six Orions were retired in January after 55 years of service. The Poseidon is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations, including humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions. The fourth and final Boeing delivery will arrive by mid-2023. The first Boeing arrived in New Zealand on 12 December 2022 and the second on 20 March 2023.
New Zealand’s Airborne Surveillance and Response Force (ASRF) is provided by No. 5 Squadron. With the retirement of the Lockheed P-3K2 Orion aircraft in early 2023, our Air Force will be equipped with four Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft. Following operational release, the P-8A Poseidon will conduct a range of tasks including aerial surveillance of New Zealand’s areas of interest such as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean including the Ross Dependency and Antarctica. They will support a range of Government agencies, including Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Customs, New Zealand Police, and the Department of Conservation.
When established, they will support the community and our neighbours 24/7 for 365 days of the year with contingency capability for tasks such as search and rescue and support in the event of natural disasters. In 2018 the Government announced it would be purchasing four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from the United States Government. The four aircraft are replacing six P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft that have been operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force since the 1960s. The last P-3K2s retired on 31 January 2023. The first P-8A Poseidon arrived in New Zealand on 12 December 2022. The remaining three Poseidons will arrive mid-2023.
The Boeing P-8 Poseidon is an American maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft developed and produced by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, and derived from the civilian Boeing 737-800. It was developed for the United States Navy (USN). The P-8 operates in the anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles. It is armed with torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons, can drop and monitor sonobuoys. The P-8 is operated by the United States Navy, the Indian Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, the Royal Norwegian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It has also been ordered by the Republic of Korea Navy, and the German Navy.