Boeing rolls out first RAAF P-8A Poseidon

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 28, 2016
The RAAF’s first P-8A Poseidon has made its debut. (Boeing Defense, Space & Security)
The RAAF’s first P-8A Poseidon has made its debut. (Boeing)

The first Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has been formally revealed in a ceremony at Boeing Field, Seattle, on Tuesday.

The aircraft, wearing RAAF serial A47-001 and 11 Squadron albatross tail markings, is due to arrive in Canberra on November 15, flown by an Australian crew, according to the RAAF’s website.

Fifteen P-8As are set to replace the RAAF’s AP-3C Orion fleet, together with the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system.

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The P-8A is equipped with advanced sensors and mission systems, including an advanced radar, high-definition cameras, and an acoustic system that is said to have four times the processing capacity of the Orion.

A47-001 competed its maiden flight, from Renton where it was assembled to Boeing Field, where its mission systems were installed, on May 6.

Boeing Defence, Space and Security tweeted some highlights of the aircraft’s debut:

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45 Comments

  • Tom

    says:

    Cant wait to see these Babies rumbling though the Skies of SA when they arrive home at Edinburgh.

  • G4george

    says:

    When will they be fully operational…..will they be heading up to the China sea anytime soon.

  • Harry

    says:

    Great addition! A sorely needed upgraded capacity and capability to secure our maritime approaches. How would they go detecting wooden boats above cloud cover from distance? Anyone know?

  • Hayden Roberts

    says:

    a bit sad that the orions will be leaving though.

  • Fabian

    says:

    Yeah the orions were a major and famous aircraft in all of military aviation history

  • bt

    says:

    If the wooden boat us large enough, you may still be able to detect it with the muli-purpose radar.

  • Henry Miller

    says:

    What can these do that the Global Hawk cannot?

  • TimC69

    says:

    A great aircraft replacing a great aircraft.

  • paul

    says:

    Avalon bound hopefully.

  • Mick181

    says:

    They can carry weapos for one Henry.

  • PAUL

    says:

    Yes Avalon 2017 will probably be sporting a P8 in RAAF livery instead of USAF like the 2015 show

  • The RAAF has invested in most of the equipment required to take on the battle field and stay ahead of the ball . . . except for comint and sigint. Maybe its time for the Australians to think about the concept of expanding the organic mission areas of the RAAF. I think the Australians are going to not only want to host RC-135 deployments, but acquire their own, and have riders on the RC flights to develop the expertise. The E-7A Wedgetail is already providing many JSTARS like mission performance with the MESA radar.. It is a natural and logical progression for the RAAF to acquire Special Mission aircraft using the 737 airframe. Perhaps some Advanced Airborne Sensor packages for the P-8As..

  • PeterE

    says:

    no loiter without tanker support.
    Low level 200ft?
    loose and engine, immediate return to base
    Many things about the P8 are below the ability of the AP3C
    Will be interesting to see how much SOP change to suit it.

  • paul

    says:

    Paul,do u work at the airshow?

  • Derrick Aguero

    says:

    Henry, try carrying torpedoes, depth charges, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons as well as drop and monitor sonobuoys just to name a few…….

  • Harry

    says:

    Just fyi the AP-3Cs can also carry torpedoes, depth charges, Harpoon anti-ship missiles as well as drop and monitor sonobuoys.

    Obviously the P=8 is a bigger aircraft and can also carry cruise missiles and bombs… but it also has to fly higher and faster than a AP-3C and thus doesn’t have the same sort of persistence, especially below cloud cover… but that what the Tritons are for I guess.

  • the road runner

    says:

    The P-8 does not fly the low profiles of the Orion… P-8 harvest information from higher altitude.
    This is a true 5th generation maritime aircraft, P-8s have some nifty features and its said they can do some AWACs functions better than our Wedgetails.

    Its a smart choice for Australia as we already operate 737 in the form of the Wedgetail. This reduces training costs,support costs and parts will be plentiful. Sortie rates will be very high and with the added capability of tankers , P-8s should be able to stay in the air for 16 hours plus as out Wedgetails have shown in Iraq.

    A spiral upgrade path of the P-8 will be implemented by Boeing/ US Navy and Australia will piggy back on these upgrades. This will reduce costs of life of type ownership.

    We shall be able to act as a sensor and share information with other coalition assets .

    Now for the Gulfstream G550 to enter service in 2017, These Should take over the Electronic Intel gathering role of the AP-3C. The RAAF has a lot of new toys coming threw in the Electronic Warfare spectrum,.. G550, and Growlers!

    The RAAF is really becoming a very dangerous Middle power ! A lot of positives in this purchase and future purchases …

    Go RAAF!

  • Hayden Roberts

    says:

    think, the P-8 has a greater speed , weapons load and range than the nimrod and orion

  • Mick181

    says:

    Curtis Australia is buying a EW aircraft based on the G-550, exact equipment fitout is highly classified but i expect a sigint/elint mission profile is what they are looking at. The first 2 have been ordered through FMS from the US and the White Paper released earlier this year had a requirment for 3-5 aircraft. This will replace the special mission Orions converted back in the 90s.

  • Gary

    says:

    Curtis, are you aware of the G550 project?

  • PAUL

    says:

    @ Paul yes

  • Derrick Aguero

    says:

    It’s silly to purchase another airframe for sigint/elint when you look at the specs of both the E-7A and the P-8, both have been designed as a multi mission platform that can perform sigint/elint.

    Currently Boeing is offering the US airforce a 737 airframe for sigint/elint/jstar, i think from an operational/maintenance/training/parts point of view we should look at the 737 instead of the G550. You would think that someone in the government and in the current climate would think, common airframes, thats the way to save money…..

  • Interesting development vis a vis commonality is the latest trials of HMAS Canberra , the new Australian LHD which has seen the successful ingress and agree into the load deck from the stern of the vessel by a US Marine Corps LCAC Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC off the coast of Oahu Hawaiian Islands. Great video coverage of this including loading and unloading vehicles and stores into the LCAC can be found here:-
    https://gaming.youtube.com/watch?v=x2nvvE2iT3s&list=PLrl_d-N5C9D7RHR_U3peGoKvqjw-cAomK

    This was part of the UMC Tiltrotor and Sea Stallion trials. The only bit missing was trials off the AAV-P7/A1 (formerly known as Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel-7 abbr. LVTP-7) in demonstrating capability integration between the USMC and Australian Navy/Australian Army especially the Marine Landing Force of 2RAR.

  • Hayden Roberts

    says:

    So we are using the aircraft Boeing says is best and the one that is less well equipped (G550)

  • Harry

    says:

    Well said Roadrunner! Totally agree with that…

    But sorry Derrick two G550s are already bought, paid and (physically) delivered. A replacement 737 capability is years down the track for the US and thus would be further down the track if we decided to join in. Btw another company is suggesting a business jet like the G550 for the US replacement program, so the US might eventually go down the G550 route instead…

  • John N

    says:

    Hayden,

    Best and also less well equipped? Ultimately the RAAF will be far better equipped.

    Just go back a little in time and see what the RAAF had and where it was heading to.

    Reportedly 18 of the 19 surviving P-3C’s were upgraded to AP-3C standard, it was also reported that a couple of them were upgraded with a SIGINT/ELINT capability and other reports suggested that a number of ‘kits’ were obtained that allowed for that capability to be moved around amongst the airframes.

    A couple of years back the plan was to replace the 18 (19th reportedly not upgraded) with 8 P-8A’s and also obtain 7 MQ-4C Triton, and no mention of a dedicated SIGINT/ELINT capability replacement.

    This then became 8 P-8A + 4 options, (plus 7 Triton), that has now been changed to a definite 12 P-8A, plus 7 Triton, and still the possibility/probability of the P-8A fleet growing to 15 airframes, and again, plus 7 Triton.

    Added to all of the above is the plan to obtain 2 (and potentially up to 5), G550’s with a dedicated SIGINT/ELINT capability as well, and as a matter of interest, the G550’s have a range of approx. 12,500km, pretty impressive!

    By around the mid 2020’s we could possibly see 15 P-8A’s, 7 MQ-4C Triton and up to 5 G550’s in a dedicated SIGINT/ELINT role in service with the RAAF.

    The old saying ‘horses for courses’ and it looks like we are getting three pretty good horses.

    Trifecta anyone??

    Cheers,

    John N

  • paul

    says:

    Sorry guys a bit off topic here,any raptors,SU B-1 B-2 JSF coming down?Maybe the golden knights to Avalon Paul??

  • Derrick Aguero

    says:

    it will be interesting to see what the elint/sigint G550 will look like?

  • Mick181

    says:

    The G-550 project has been cloaked in secrecy from the start, the first news on the public register was when it went to the US congress for FMS approval. I suspect none of us on here have anything but the greyest of notions what is going into them.

  • Hayden Roberts

    says:

    does anyone have any idea on what colour scheme the g550 will wear

  • Craigy

    says:

    Boeing has proposed the B737 airframe as a replacement to JSTARS but t hedge its bets it is also proposing the CL604 so it can compete with the other proposals for business jets.

    The USAF is planning to purchase Gulfstream jets to replace the C130 Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft.

    The Gulfstream has a large cabin and well suited to these specialist activities. As stated above they have great range and importantly are considerably cheaper to operate than a B737. The G550 will be a great addition to the RAAF ORBAT.

  • Mick181

    says:

    We will be looking at a new VIP fleet sooner rather than later and with the ex Qantas A330s being converted to KC-30s with a VIP interior, probably replacing the 737s, the G-550 with global range will look very attractive to replace the CL-604s

  • PAUL

    says:

    @Paul 2015 Airshow had Raptors & a B52 plus F16C -2017 the Raptors should be back maybe a B1 unsure about B2 or F35 that would be really great. Black Knights from Singapore should be back but an F15SG from the RSAF would be very nice to see… as always these things depend on tasking & availability.

  • PAUL

    says:

    On topic the RNZAF should follow suit to replace its 6 ageing P3 Orions with 4 P8 Poseidons & 2 Triton drones, which should cover requirements & interoperability with the RAAF

  • Harry

    says:

    It would be good for both AU&NZ to use the P-8s, but I think I remember their P3Ks were just refurbished/upgraded so I couldn’t imagine it anytime soon…

  • Avionics dude

    says:

    I think the RNZAF will be getting P8’s fairly soon….

  • Fabian

    says:

    Their quite expensive but probably

  • Harry

    says:

    I was reading up on it… they are going to retire the P3Ks in 2025 at the earliest (but there are no official reports on preferences for the P-8 or if indeed 2025 is set in stone, because its fairly vague in the DWP16 and most likely will be extended further). And just a few months ago, covered on this very site, Boeing announced that it won the tender to upgrade NZ’s P3Ks with advanced anti-submarine search and tracking systems similar to those in the P-8s.

    Thus, this won’t happen anytime soon and there has been no statements about NZ getting the P-8s (not even in their defence white paper) beyond Boeing mentioning that it saw NZ as a potential customer back in 2011. The fact that Boeing i upgrading NZ’s P3Ks means that NZ obviously passed on the opportunity to replace its capability with the P-8s for the foreseeable future. But it would be great if they did go for it!

  • Jon

    says:

    Hopefully Avalon 2017 will have new two RAAF aircraft types on display for the first time, the C-27J Spartan and the P-8 Poseidon.

  • paul

    says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a SU 30 came to Avalon.

  • Fabian

    says:

    Just imagine….. AND NOW, THE RUSSIAN AIR FORCE WITH THEIR SU-30s !!!!!

  • paul

    says:

    Most likely the Malaysian ones.

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