A P-8A Poseidon aircraft belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force has returned to Australia after completing its mission in the Middle East.
The P-8 is an aircraft that is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Australia Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said that the deployment of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft was part of a targeted and meaningful element of the country’s contribution to the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC).
Minister Reynolds said: “Over the last month, the P-8A Poseidon aircraft has provided valuable maritime surveillance and reconnaissance to support the coalition partners in the IMSC.
“It is now time for the Poseidon to return home, having played a key role in supporting freedom of navigation and the free flow of shipping, which is crucial to regional security and stability.”
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This was the first deployment of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft in the Middle East region.
In a statement, Reynolds said that the P-8A Poseidon and its crew will contribute to maritime ISR duties in the region on return to Australia.
She said that a small team of personnel belonging to the Australian Defence Force will continue to provide liaison, planning and coordination support to the IMSC headquarters.
The Defence Minister said that an Anzac-class frigate from the Royal Australian Navy will be deployed to the Middle East in January for around six months to support Australia’s contribution to the IMSC and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
The CMF is a maritime coalition led by the US against terrorism, piracy and drug smuggling in the Middle East.
The aircraft was deployed in the Middle East in October this year in support of the IMSC.
At the time of deployment, the Defence Minister said: “The P-8A will work alongside our coalition partners to ensure the safe passage of merchant vessels through the region, boost security and provide an advanced maritime patrol and surveillance capability.
“This is the first time the P-8A aircraft has operated in the Middle East and its deployment will support freedom of navigation in the region, which is a fundamental right of all states under international law.”