The Australian Department of Defence has referred a facilities upgrade project to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, before the arrival of the new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
The $707.9m facilities required for the maritime patrol aircraft replacement project covers modernisation of facilities for several Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bases across the country.
Australian defence minister parliamentary secretary Darren Chester said: "Facilities will be developed at the Main Operating Base at RAAF Base Edinburgh, as well as works at Forward Operating Bases at RAAF Bases Darwin, Pearce and Townsville.
"The existing Torpedo Maintenance Facility at HMAS Stirling will also be refurbished and new Explosive Ordnance storage constructed.
"These new and upgraded facilities and infrastructure are essential to the operation of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft."
In February, Australia ordered eight P-8A Poseidon aircraft from the US at an estimated cost of $4bn, including support facilities, to boost RAAF’s maritime surveillance capabilities.
An option for an additional four aircraft was also approved, subject to the results of the defence white paper review.
The aircraft, along with high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles, is scheduled to replace RAAF’s AP-3C Orion aircraft fleet.
According to Chester, the project will bring economic benefits for local industry across the country over five years, especially in South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Construction is expected to start in 2015 and be completed by the end of 2020, subject to Parliamentary approval of the project.
A derivative of Boeing’s next-generation 737-800 platform, 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.
The aircraft is capable of conducting broad-area maritime and littoral operations. It is expected to provide Australia with an advanced maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and response capability to undertake operations and activities in support of the national interest.
Image: A US Navy P-8A Poseidon flies over the Chesapeake Bay, US. Photo: courtesy of Greg L. Davis.