An RAAF P-8A Poseidon has completed the maritime surveillance aircraft’s first overseas deployment in Australian service.
P-8A A47-001 has returned from a deployment to Royal Malaysian Air Force Base (RMAF) Butterworth as part of Operation Gateway which saw the aircraft fly routine maritime surveillance observing merchant and naval shipping in the North Indian Ocean and South China Sea.
“Maritime surveillance in this part of the world has been a core mission of Number 92 Wing for decades with the Poseidon’s capabilities well suited to continue this role,” Commander of Surveillance and Response Group Air Commodore Craig Heap said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The aircraft, the aircrew who operate it, and the maintenance and support teams that keep the jet flying, have all performed extremely well during the deployment.”
Operation Gateway is the ADF’s longstanding commitment to operate maritime surveillance patrols in the North Indian Ocean and South China Sea, under which RAAF P-3C and AP-3C Orions have routinely deployed to Butterworth. The AP-3C Orion is progressively being replaced by up to 15 Boeing P-8A Poseidons, the first of which was delivered to Australia in November 2015.
“With this overseas deployment complete, the next step from June through to July will be the completion of the operational evaluation of the Poseidons’s search and rescue capability. This will be another important step as we move toward declaring initial operational capability of the P-8A system,” AIRCDRE Heap said.