The Royal Australian Air Force is busily preparing for delivery on schedule of its first Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft in early 2017.
Newly appointed director of the P-8 transition office Group Captain Roger McCutcheon says the RAAF’s transition to the new intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and response aircraft already has begun: “We now have personnel in Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida conducting training.
“Seven aircrew arrived there in January this year. They’ve commenced their training and will stay on to become P-8 instructors with the US Navy,” GPCAPT McCutcheon said at the Avalon Airshow on Thursday.
Three technicians who eventually will become maintenance instructors are due to leave Australia for Jacksonville in the middle of this year and the first spare parts for the aircraft are set to arrive in Australia later in 2015.
“The P-8’s a fundamental element of Australia’s future maritime strategy. Alongside the Triton, which is yet to be fully approved by the government, the P-8A will continue to secure our maritime environment once the AP-3C is withdrawn in about 2019,” GPCAPT McCutcheon said.
The Australian government announced in February 2014 that eight Poseidon aircraft are to be acquired, plus another four, depending on the outcomes of the 2015 Defence White Paper. GPCAPT McCutcheon says approval for the extra aircraft probably will be sought next year.
Acquisition of the initial eight aircraft will cost about $4 billion, including associated support facilities.