The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has received its 12th Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime multimission aircraft, according to a 13 December statement by the Department of Defence (DoD) in Canberra.
The aircraft arrived the previous day at RAAF Base Edinburgh, completing the fleet for No 11 Squadron, said the DoD.
Australia is acquiring the P-8A and the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to replace its fleet of Lockheed AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. Canberra has committed to procuring 15 P-8As, 12 of which have been approved for acquisition. The remaining three aircraft are going through the approval process.
The AP-3C is in the process of a graduated drawdown to retirement, with the final aircraft planned for withdrawal in 2023.
Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds was quoted in the statement as saying that the P-8A anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft will enhance Australia's maritime security, pointing out that the platform can be refuelled in the air by tanker aircraft such as Australia's KC-30A, "making it possible to patrol Australia's isolated Southern Ocean territories".
An internal fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes also allows the P-8A to conduct low-level anti-submarine warfare missions at a distance of more than 2,000 km from base.
The minister also pointed out that the P-8A "is already providing significant operational support to Australia, including a recent mission to the Middle East Region on Operation 'Manitou' as part of the International Maritime Security Construct" aimed at assuring the safety and protection of maritime navigation in the Gulf region.
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