Australia will acquire two more Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft bringing the total fleet size to 14, the Department of Defence announced.
The two additional Poseidon aircraft are to be purchased through Australia’s existing Cooperative Program with the U.S. Navy, the primary operator of the platform. The additional P-8As will boost the maritime surveillance and response capability of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
In addition to the acquisition of two P-8As, the Government has also approved sustainment funding for the current approved fleet of three Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned maritime surveillance aircraft.
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,” Minister Reynolds said. “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.”
Minister Reynolds said 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. “Defence is committed to this cooperative approach; together we are striving to develop this military technology to the highest standards,” Minister Reynolds said.
The Poseidon is a highly versatile, long endurance platform capable of a range of mission types including Maritime Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and striking targets above and below the ocean’s surface. 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.
Based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, the P-8A Poseidon is an important part of Australia’s future maritime patrol and response strategy. The P-8A aircraft and MQ-4C Triton UAS replaced RAAF’s AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.
The first Australian P-8A aircraft arrived in Canberra on 16 November 2016, and the remaining 11 earlier approved will be delivered by March 2023.