The Australian Government has approved the acquisition of eight P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft, worth approximately A$4bn ($3.6bn), including support facilities, to boost The Royal Australia Air Force' (RAAF) maritime surveillance capabilities.
All the eight aircraft are scheduled to be fully operational by 2021 while the first aircraft is expected to be delivered to Australia in 2017.
An option for a further four aircraft has also been approved by the government subject to the results of the defence white paper review.
RAAF will deploy the aircraft to replace the AP-3C Orion aircraft, which have been in service for more than 40 years as well as to monitor maritime approaches and patrol more than 2.5 million square kilometres of marine jurisdiction.
The P-8A is a potent and highly versatile aircraft that can also support missions including search and rescue, anti-submarine and maritime strike missions using torpedoes and Harpoon missiles.
To secure ocean resources such as offshore energy resources off northern Australia and protect borders, the aircraft will be operated alongside other existing and future ADF assets, and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) aviation fleet.
Approximately $8.5m of work associated with Australia's participation in the P-8A Poseidon programme has already been awarded to Australian businesses.
The P-8A is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft designed to ensure maximum interoperability in the future battle space.
Capable of conducting broad-area maritime and littoral operations, the aircraft is based on Boeing's Next-Generation 737-800 platform.
Image: A US Navy's Boeing-built P-8A Poseidon aircraft arrives at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of Boeing.