Five years ago, on 2 July 2018, Cabinet approved the acquisition of four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to replace the aging P-3K2 Orion aircraft – a $2.34 billion, once in a generation investment. Today, the fourth and final aircraft was welcomed to New Zealand, landing at its new home at Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Base Ohakea. The Poseidon aircraft will deliver support to New Zealand’s peace and security operations, maritime surveillance, resource protection, humanitarian and disaster responses, in New Zealand, the Pacific, and further abroad. The four P-8A Poseidons will be used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force to 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.
Sarah Minson, Deputy Secretary of Capability Delivery at Manat? Kaupapa Waonga Ministry of Defence said,“From the initial contract with the US Foreign Military Sales process, through to the construction of the fuselages in Kansas, the trip to the Boeing factory in Seattle, their paint roll out and test flights and operational release earlier this month, this has been an incredibly smooth process. These aircraft are now all ready to begin their lifetime of service to Aotearoa New Zealand.”
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 Poseidon is a multi-mission aircraft that was developed to replace the P-3 Orion for long-range maritime patrol in the United States Navy. 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. As of 2023, 160 P-8s have been delivered.
The P-8A has been designed and purpose built to patrol maritime environments and monitor vessels on and below the surface. However, it has been substantially modified to include a weapons bay, hard points, increased electrical generation capacity, Boeing 737-900 wings and structural strengthening for military operations. The aircraft is produced by Boeing Defense, Space and Security in Seattle. The P-8A has modern surveillance sensors, electronic support measures, self-protection systems and a communications suite of radios, data links and satellite communication. The P-8 features the Raytheon APY-10 multi-mission surface search radar; the P-8I features an international version of the APY-10. Unlike the preceding P-3, the P-8 lacks a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) due to its higher operational altitude; its acoustic sensor system is reportedly more effective at acoustic tracking and thus lacking a MAD will not impede its detection capabilities. A fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes, gives the P-8A the ability to remain on station 2,000 kilometres from base.