The RAAF has declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, meaning the maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft can now be tasked on operations.
The milestone was announced by Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne at the RAAF’s 2018 Air Power Conference in Canberra on Tuesday.
“The P-8A is a very capable and effective successor to the AP-3C Orion, which will soon retire from the role after nearly 40 years of distinguished service,” Minister 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.”
Acquisition of an initial eight P-8As for the RAAF was first approved in 2014, while February 2016’s Defence White Paper’s accompanying Integrated Investment Program revealed that, “seven additional aircraft [will] be acquired in two tranches to bring the total to 15 aircraft by the late 2020s.”
Subsequently, approval of an additional tranche of four P-8s was announced by Minister Payne at the 2016 Air Power Conference in Canberra.
The first P-8A was delivered to Australia in November 2016. Operated by 11 Squadron, they are being based at RAAF Base Edinburgh and are replacing the RAAF’s ageing AP-3C Orion aircraft, to be complemented by the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system.
“The arrival of the P-8A has allowed Air Force, under Plan Jericho, to develop and evolve new operating concepts, support arrangements and sustainment options,” Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL Leo Davies said.
“These will best exploit the P-8A’s sensors and networking as part of integrated Navy and Air Force integrated maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance family of systems.”