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RAAF Poseidons to receive $140m upgrade

written by Stephen Kuper | April 15, 2024

A Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft from No. 11 Squadron departs RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia, to conduct floodwater reconnaissance missions across New South Wales as part of Operation Flood Assist 2022 (ADF)

Boeing Defence Australia has won a $139.5 million contract to upgrade the software, systems and sensors of the RAAF’s P-8A Poseidon fleet.

The first two aircraft to undergo the ‘Increment 3’ modification will be upgraded in Jacksonville, Florida, with the remainder of the fleet of 12 to be completed at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia.

Boeing Defence Australia will recruit and train apprentices and supply chain trainees to provide P-8A Poseidon support, upskilling Australians and providing pathways to long-term employment.

Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said, “This announcement creates 50 new jobs and builds on the existing 283-strong workforce currently employed by Boeing Defence Australia at RAAF Base Edinburgh.

“Investing in this critical upgrade to our P-8A Poseidon fleet will create new opportunities for apprentices to learn valuable skills and forge a career that offers long-term and well-paid employment, while also ensuring our Defence Force is equipped with the capabilities it needs to keep Australians safe.”


The P-8 is a maritime patrol aircraft used for various roles, including reconnaissance and search and rescue.

It’s a military variant initially based on Boeing’s workhorse narrow-body 737 Next Generation.

In 2021, the federal government announced it would purchase two more P-8A Poseidons, bringing Australia’s fleet to 14.

The aircraft has 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 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.

In 2022, the Poseidon rose to mainstream prominence when a Chinese J-16 cut across the nose of one in what Defence called a “dangerous manoeuvre”.

The incident, which sparked a diplomatic incident, took place 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 to base safely but added the incident would not deter the RAAF from continuing to fly over the disputed area.

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