The New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken the delivery of the second of four P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

Delivery of the aircraft was accepted by New Zealand Defence Minister Andrew Little at the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Ohakea in Manawatu, New Zealand on 21 March.

The latest milestone comes three months after the country received its first aircraft from Boeing in December last year.

Boeing is under contract to deliver four Poseidon aircraft to replace the RNZAF’s existing P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft fleet.

A  $1.422bn (NZD2.346bn) deal for purchasing the aircraft was signed between the New Zealand government and US Navy in July 2018.

Little said: “With two of the four P-8A Poseidons now on home soil, this marks another significant milestone in the government’s historic investment in Aotearoa New Zealand’s defence capability and maritime awareness.

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“The Poseidons replace P-3K2 Orions. They can travel faster, are more reliable, and offer greater interoperability with a number of our partners.

“The arrival of this second aircraft gives our defence leaders and defence force a sense of confidence that they have more means to provide a meaningful response when tasked to do what they need to do.”

The Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft fleet will be deployed to support the aerial surveillance duties of the RNZAF to safeguard the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and other areas of interest such as the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean regions.

The aircraft will further enhance the RNZAF’s operational capabilities to undertake various missions, including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and long-range search and rescue, in the region, as well as internationally.

Delivery of the two remaining Poseidon aircraft is expected to complete later this year.