The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) Base Ohakea witnessed Defence Minister Andrew Little celebrating the arrival of the fourth and final P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

The Poseidon fleet will undertake various tasks, including aerial surveillance, resource protection, disaster relief, and search and rescue operations, in collaboration with Pacific partners. This modernisation initiative replaces the venerable P-3K2 Orion aircraft, ushering in a new era.

This enhances New Zealand’s defence capabilities and underscores the government’s dedication to ensuring the security and stability of the region. The first P-8A Poseidon was delivered to New Zealand in December 2022, meaning all four aircraft have been delivered quickly over eight months.

Minister Little highlighted, “The delivery of all Poseidon P-8As marks a significant milestone in this Government’s historic investment in our defence capability to support the security and stability of our region.”

According to GlobalData’s “New Zealand Defense Market 2022-2027” report, in 2019, New Zealand’s government signed a contract to acquire four P-8A Poseidon aircraft as a part of its overall efforts to strengthen the surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the NZDF and has earmarked funding of $1.3bn for procurement.

Including these aircraft, the RNZAF is equipped to engage in multifaceted tasks, including comprehensive aerial surveillance over New Zealand’s areas of interest, spanning the Exclusive Economic Zone, South Pacific, Southern Ocean, Ross Dependency, and Antarctica.

Among the diverse roles these aircraft will undertake, resource protection, natural disaster support, and collaborative search and rescue operations alongside Pacific partners stand out. Minister Little emphasised, “The P-8A Poseidon aircraft replace the P-3K2 Orion aircraft, which served the RNZAF for nearly 60 years.”

The new fleet’s enhanced speed and reliability will be instrumental in carrying out national and international disaster response efforts, addressing the pressing security concerns arising from climate change impacts, especially within the Pacific region.

The New Zealand Defence Force gains preparedness and resources as the final aircraft joins the Poseidon fleet. “With the fleet now complete, the defence force can be confident it has more resources to provide a meaningful response when tasked to do what it needs to,” Minister Little affirmed.