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Australia awards contract for P-8A upgrades

The Boeing P-8A is an important platform for Australia. The RAAF uses the aircraft for widespread maritime surveillance activities and for long-range submarine tracking. This photograph shows an RAAF P-8A that was deployed at Roland Garros Airport, Reunion Island, in March 2024. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Boeing has been awarded a AUD139.5 million (USD90.1 million) contract to upgrade the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF's) P-8A Poseidon fleet.

The contract, announced on 15 April, will deliver Increment 3 Block 2 software, systems, and sensor upgrades to the RAAF's P-8A fleet, improving their anti-submarine warfare (ASW), maritime strike, and intelligence-collection capabilities, according to Boeing.

The upgrade programme will commence from September 2026, the company said. The RAAF currently operates 12 P-8As, out of a total of 14 ordered, according to Janes inventory data.

“The first two aircraft to undergo the Increment 3 modification will be upgraded in Jacksonville, Florida,” Boeing said, adding that the remainder will be upgraded by Boeing Defence Australia at RAAF Base Edinburgh.

Two new P-8As (the balance of the order of 14) are scheduled to be handed over to the RAAF in 2024 and 2025, according to Boeing. Janes assesses that these aircraft will not be delivered in the Increment 3 Block 2 configuration.

Instead, the two new P-8As will almost certainly be among the “remainder of the fleet of 12” that Boeing says is slated for upgrade at RAAF Base Edinburgh. “There is provision for the upgrade contract to be extended beyond its 2030 end date to accommodate these two aircraft,” the company said.

According to Naomi Smith, the director of sustainment operations at Boeing Defence Australia, the upgrades will involve over “300,000 hours of maintenance work over four years, with each aircraft taking around 7.5 months to complete”.

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