The Royal New Zealand Air force has taken delivery of its first of four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
The delivery was conducted in a small ceremony at the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, and was attended by Boeing and NZ govt officials. It comes just four months after the aircraft was rolled out and made its first flight in August.
New Zealand formally requested and was approved to buy the P-8A in April 2017, and the four aircraft were ordered as part of a larger Lot 11 order for 18 P-8As for the US Navy and South Korea in March 2020.
“As a maritime nation, delivery of the P-8A will ensure New Zealand maintains a patrol and response capability that will protect and support law enforcement in our Exclusive Economic Zone and Southern Ocean,” the acting Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery, New Zealand Ministry of Defence, Sarah Minson said in a release. “The P-8A will also assist our South Pacific neighbours and deliver long-range search and rescue capability.”
The New Zealand P-8 capability adds to a growing list of nations operating the aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region, including the US, Australia, South Korea, and India (P-8I Neptune). Other operators include Norway and the UK, while Germany also has the aircraft on order. To date, some 155 P-8s have been delivered.
The RNZAF P-8As will be sustained by Boeing Defence Australia as an extension of its contract with the RAAF. The RNZAF is also establishing a P-8A training system support centre which will have an Operational Flight Trainer (OFT) including a Brief/Debrief Station (BDS), a Weapons Tactics Trainer (WTT), a 10-seat flight management systems trainer electronic classroom, a 10-seat mission systems desktop trainer electronic classroom, a virtual maintenance trainer, and a 10-seat maintenance electronic classroom.
The P-8A will replace the Lockheed P-3K2 Orion in RNZAF service, and will be based at Ohakea. The two remaining P-3K2s are scheduled to be retired in 2023 as the three additional P-8As are delivered.