The first of twelve Australian P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft was unveiled by Boeing at a roll-out ceremony in Seattle on 27th September. Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, attended the ceremony and accepted into service the Royal Australian Air Force’s newest aircraft.
The P-8A replaces the current AP-3C Orion fleet - due for withdrawal in 2018-19. The first aircraft will arrive in Australia on 15th November 2016, with the remaining 11 aircraft to be delivered by March 2020. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the first eight P-8As is scheduled for the period 2017-2020.
Air Force aircrew and maintenance personnel have been busy training for the arrival of the P-8A since early 2015 - working side by side with the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. The first P-8A Australian pilot flew a four-hour sortie around the Air Station on 14 April 2015.
The P-8A will ultimately be joined by the remotely piloted MQ-4C Triton, forming an integrated Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Family of Systems. The Australian Government has committed to acquiring the Triton subject to the successful completion of the U.S. Navy development programme. Both aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Edinburgh.