Boeing has launched the first of 12 P-8A Poseidon aircraft for use by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The new maritime patrol aircraft is based on Boeing’s 737-800 fuselage, and will replace a fleet of AP-3C Orion aircraft currently in service with RAAF.

The Orion aircraft is based at RAAF Base Edinburgh and will be replaced over the next three years.

RAAF chief air marshal Leo Davies said: “The P-8A is the latest in a pedigree of Boeing aircraft that have provided important and significant operational capability to Australia.

“This history includes the C-17A Globemaster, E-7A Wedgetail, F/A-18 Classic Hornet, F/A-18F Super Hornet, Helicopter Aircrew Training System and in the near future E/A-18G Growler.”

The P-8A is equipped with weapons bay, under wing and under fuselage hard points for weapons and is designed for continued low level operations and high angle of bank turns.

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"The P-8A is the latest in a pedigree of Boeing aircraft that have provided important and significant operational capability to Australia."

The first aircraft will arrive in Australia on 15 November, with the remaining 11 aircraft to be delivered by March 2020, RAAF said in a statement.

Aircrew and maintenance personnel for the P-8A are being trained since early 2015 by working alongside the US Navy at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida.

The first P-8A Australian pilot flew a four-hour sortie on 14 April 2015.

The aircraft is capable of conducting long-range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, along with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It can also be used for broad-area maritime and littoral operations.

Image: A P-8A Poseidon flying alongside a Lockheed P-3 Orion. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by Liz Goettee.