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RAAF pilots complete first flight in P-8A Poseidon

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 15, 2015
RAAF P-8A Poseidon aircrew in front of the aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. (Defence)
RAAF P-8A Poseidon aircrew in front of the aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. (Defence)

RAAF Flight Lieutenant James Pears is the first Australian to fly a P-8A Poseidon after taking the maritime surveillance aircraft on a four-hour flight around US Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

RAAF Flight Lieutenant James Pears. (Defence)
RAAF Flight Lieutenant James Pears. (Defence)

The flight took place on Tuesday afternoon US time, Defence said in a statement.

“The aircraft handles well and performs to expectations; the levels of automation and assistance to the pilot are amazing over that offered by the AP-3C,” FLTLT Pears said.

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Pears is one of seven RAAF P-8A Poseidon flightcrew currently in Jacksonville conducting training on the new aircraft with the US Navy ahead of its introduction into the RAAF fleet from 2017.

Australia has ordered the P-8A Poseidon aircraft – which is based on the Boeing 737 – to replace the RAAF’s AP-3C Orions.

Australia’s first P-8A Poseidon is due to be delivered in 2017 and will be based at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia. There are expected to be eight fully operational by 2021.

Defence said the P-8A Poseidon would boost Australia’s ability to monitor its maritime approaches and patrol a vast maritime jurisdiction and search and rescue area representing 11 per cent of the world’s oceans.

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8 Comments

  • Chris

    says:

    Let us hope the 2015 White Paper recommends the purchase of at least 4 more. India’s decision to take the Magnetic Anomoly Detector option makes more sense in our Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans AOs given the prevalence of conventional submarines hereabouts.
    A HALE more than a MALE has more merit especially unarmed but will be limited by the bandwidth and power available through our one satellite. In a crisis with every ADF and Allied asset trying to RxTx data from their air, land, sea and undersea sensors the number we might be able to use simultaneously will be limited.
    That is if the Triton is allowed to fly here give the European Agency declining Germany’s request and subsequent cancellation of the rest of the order after the first airframe was delivered.

  • BANKS

    says:

    Any idea if these will be an off the shelf purchase, or will there be some Boeing Defence Australia involvement like the Wedgetails?

  • Daryl

    says:

    Will these jets have any commonality with the Wedgetail airframes for maintenance purposes….engines etc,etc.

  • John N

    says:

    Daryl,

    The Wedgetail is based on the 737-700 with -800 wings and the P-8A is based on the 737-800 with -900 wings, and both have CFM56 engines, so no doubt there would be ‘basic’ similarities and maybe some commonality too.

    But you also have to remember that the Wedgetail airframes are from 737 production in the early 2000’s and the Poseidon airframes from current production, so I’m sure there will be commonality (to a certain degree), there will also be various ‘engineering’ modifications/differences from such a ‘large’ gap in production of the basic aircraft, but still I don’t see a problem.

    BANKS,

    The aircraft are going to be delivered directly from the US production line that the USN aircraft will be produced on. Basically the P-8A’s will come off the Boeing production lines in the same manner that the F/A-18F, EA-18G and C-17A’s, complete! So no Boeing Australian involvement in their actual production like the Wedgetail modifications that were done here, but no doubt Boeing Australia will probably be involved in the ongoing ‘sustainment’.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • George B

    says:

    Are eight enough? We have a huge chunk of ocean and coastline to cover and the Northrop grumman Triton / Global Hawk / UAVs seem to have a higher attrition rate than manned aircraft, especially as the Boeing 737 is such a mature airframe/engine combination. We certainly don’t have enough Wedgetails or KC-30s considering the size of our airforce.

  • Raymond

    says:

    George B – it’s 8 with another 4 options (which will probably be taken up for a total of 12). Combined with 6 or 7 MQ-4C Triton’s (capable of missions up to 24 hours in duration) there will likely be 18 or 19 airframes, which is (or was) the number of AP-3C Orions in RAAF service.

    Don’t forget there is always the possibility of follow-up orders should there be an identified gap, by the time the Triton enters RAAF service it will be a much more mature platform (this is subject to the USN development program anyway), and also 2 more KC-30A’s have been flagged – to be further clarified in the Defence White Paper this year.

  • John N

    says:

    George B,

    To follow on from Raymond’s comment, if you are a regular reader of “Australian Aviation’, you would have seen an article in the last 12 months where the Chief of the Air Force was talking about the P-8A and Triton acquisitions.

    In a nutshell, he was saying that they had been ‘re-evaluating’ the ‘ratio’ of P-8A’s to Triton, the original plan was as we know 8 P-8A’s and 7 Triton.

    Basically what he was saying was that 8 P-8A’s wasn’t going to be enough and that the RAAF was looking to follow the USN example of a ‘two to one’ ration of P-8A’s to Triton, and that the appropriate mix would be in the order of 12 P-8A’s and 6-7 (most likely 7) Triton.

    He also said in that interview that they would ‘continue’ with the original purchase of 8 and most likely include an option for another 4. This was ‘before’ the Government made the ‘official’ P-8A acquisition announcement, which of course was 8+4.

    And guess what? When the Government did announce the go ahead of the P-8A, it did clearly say that it would be 8+4.

    No doubt we just have to wait for the DWP for some sort of confirmation.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Adrian

    says:

    As these projects take such along time to get going, will we be looking at the B787 to replace the P-8A.
    The B787 having a composite airframe with greater resistance to humidity and designed as a long range aircraft.

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