RAAF’s Poseidons will now be able to maintained at Base Edinburgh in SA after work to raise the roof of a hangar was complete.
The development means the aircraft can now be overhauled in Australia, rather than being sent interstate or overseas.
The RAAF P-8 Poseidon is a maritime patrol aircraft used for various roles, including reconnaissance and search and rescue.
The modifications to the hangar, overseen by Defence industry partners Ventia and McMahons, also included installing “state-of-the-art” LED lighting, stands, and aircraft access docking.
Installing a tail cutout and lifting the roof will enable the P-8A Poseidon to move easily in and out of the hangar, increasing safety and reducing the risk of damage.
It means its five-year heavy maintenance cycle will now be completed at the hangar on base. However, new “deeper maintenance facilities” will not be available in Adelaide until the middle of the decade.
Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said, “The $60 million contract with Boeing Defence Australia to maintain the P-8A Poseidon fleet brings heavy maintenance work to Australia that would otherwise have been performed in the United States.”
The Boeing-built P-8A is a military variant initially based on Boeing’s workhorse narrow-body 737 Next Generation.
It’s equipped with advanced sensors and mission systems, including a multi-role radar, high-definition cameras, a high-processing acoustic system, and an extensive communications suite.
Australia’s Poseidon fleet is based at RAAF Base Edinburgh and was introduced to partially replace the RAAF’s fleet of AP-3C Orions, together with the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system.
Last year, the federal government announced it is to purchase an additional two P-8A Poseidons, taking Australia’s total fleet to 14.
The news comes shortly after a Chinese J-16 cut across the nose of the aircraft in June in what Defence called a “dangerous manoeuvre”.
The incident, which sparked a diplomatic incident, took place on 26 May over the South China Sea and saw the fighter jet accelerate so close to the Australian aircraft that a “bundle of chaff” was ingested into its engine.
Defence Minister Richard Marles said the P-8 returned back to base safely but added the incident would not deter the RAAF from continuing to fly over the disputed area.