The Australian Government has approved the acquisition of eight Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft from the United States. The aircraft will replace the Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orions that served the continent nation for over four decades, the government announced on 21 February 2014.
“These state-of-the-art aircraft will dramatically boost Australia’s ability to monitor its maritime approaches and patrol over 2.5 million square kilometres of our marine jurisdiction – an area equating to nearly 4 per cent of the world’s oceans”, writes a government spokesperson in a press release.
The first aircraft will be delivered in 2017, with all eight aircraft fully operational by 2021. The Government has also approved an option for a further four aircraft subject to the outcomes of the Defence White Paper review.
Australia will augment the Poseidons with high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles. The P-8A will in Royal Australian Air Force service conduct search and rescue, anti-submarine and maritime strike missions using torpedoes and Harpoon missiles. The acquisition of the eight P-8A aircraft will cost approximately US$4 billion, including support facilities.
Modernising the RAAF
Australia is modernising its air assets over the last decade creating one of the most modern air forces worldwide. The orders/deliveries to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) since the beginning of the century include 5 Airbus KC-30A MRTT tanker/transport aircraft, 6 E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C), 14 Lockheed F-35A Lightning IIs with a requirement for 58 of these 5th generation multi-role fighters, 24 Boeing F/A-18EF Super Hornet multi-role fighters, 12 Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, 10 Alenia Aermacchi/L-3 C-27J Spartan to complement the six C-130J Hercules tactical airlifters, 6 Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifters, 3 CL-604 Challenger VIP-jets and 2 Boeing 737 Business Jets (BBJ).
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has 24 Sikorsky MH-60R Sea Hawk maritime helicopters on order with three Bell 429 training/utility helicopters flying within the RAN since 2002. The RAN and the Royal Australian Army (RAA) also are to receive a combined total of 46 NH Industries MRH90 Taipan helicopters, with 6 for the Navy. The RAA is further getting seven new Boeing CH-47F Chinook medium-lift helicopters with the delivery of 22 Eurocopter Tiger ARH attack helicopters completed in 2011.
Source: Government of Australia