The Commonwealth government has awarded a $60 million contract to Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) for the provision of deeper maintenance services to the Royal Australian Air Force’s P-8A Poseidon fleet.
This is expected to involve the delivery of major maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) work and spiral upgrades, including developing digital sustainment capability at RAAF Base Edinburgh.
The work is to be delivered over the life of the P-8A Poseidon fleet, tipped to provide new opportunities for the local supply chain, while also upskilling the broader defence and aerospace industry.
“We expect the contract will necessitate around 37 additional South Australian jobs from the outset and the engagement of multiple local businesses, and that these numbers will increase over time,” BDA director of commercial derivative aircraft Darryn Fletcher, said.
This latest contract forms part of the Commonwealth’s Industry Plan for Aerospace Platform Deeper Maintenance and Structural Integrity, which seeks to build sovereign sustainment capability.
“To achieve this on one of Australia’s most complex aerospace programs is evidence of our strong partnership with the Commonwealth and our shared commitment to developing sovereign deeper maintenance capability,” Fletcher added.
BDA is scheduled to deliver deeper maintenance services on the first RAAF P-8A Poseidon in July 2022 following six years of service.
The new activities are also expected to create local opportunities for the sustainment of other P-8 Poseidon fleets around the world.
The award of this latest contract comes just over a month after a P-8A Poseidon refuelled using a new “in-ground” system at RAAF Base Edinburgh. The fleet had typically depended on traditional support vehicles for refuelling.
The Boeing-built P-8A Poseidon is RAAF’s multi-mission maritime patrol, initially based on Boeing’s classic workhorse, B737NG.
The Poseidon can be deployed for anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and search and rescue. It has a maximum height of up to 41,000 feet and can fly at speeds up to 490 knots.
RAAF’s first Poseidon was delivered on 16 November 2016, and the Air Force is working towards a final fleet of 15.
The aircraft was introduced to partially replace RAAF’s fleet of AP-3C Orions, together with the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system.
The P-8A is equipped with advanced sensors and mission systems, including a multi-role radar, high-definition cameras and an acoustic system that is said to boast four times the processing capacity of the AP-3C’s, as well as an extensive communications suite.
An internal fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes allows the P-8A to conduct low-level anti-submarine warfare missions at a distance of greater than 2,000 kilometres from base. The P-8A will be compatible for air-to-air refuelling with the KC-30A MRTT.