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.
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.
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.