The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) new maritime surveillance aircraft P-8A Poseidon has attained initial operating capability (IOC), five months before schedule.
The IOC is a significant milestone for the P-8A aircraft, which serves as a major element of the Australian Defence Forces’ (ADF) future maritime strategy, RAAF chief air marshal Leo Davies said in a statement.
Davies also stated that the arrival of the P-8A Poseidon in Australia has enabled the nation’s airforce, under Plan Jericho, to develop and create new operating concepts, support arrangements and sustainment options.
Davies added: “These will best exploit the P-8A’s sensors and networking as part of integrated navy and airforce integrated maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance family of systems.”
The military aircraft, along with the MQ-4C Triton, has been procured by Australia as part of its $5bn investment in improving the country’s maritime patrol capability.
The P-8A Poseidon aircraft will replace the AP-3C Orion aircraft currently in use with the Australian Air Force.
The AP-3C Orion aircraft is expected to retire from its operations after approximately 40 years of service with the RAAF.
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Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said: “Together the P-8A Poseidon and the future MQ-4C Triton aircraft will provide Australia with one of the world’s most advanced maritime patrol and surveillance capabilities.”
Payne added: “The Poseidon will improve defence’s ability to conduct anti-submarine warfare, maritime patrol and surveillance of Australia’s maritime approaches.”
Six of the 12 P-8A Poseidon aircraft are currently being operated by Number 11 Squadron from RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia.