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RNZAF P-8s conducting operational trials at Fiji

The deployment of the Royal New Zealand Air Force's first Boeing P-8A on Fiji will bolster Wellington's engagements with regional partners and associated islands in the South Pacific. (New Zealand Defence Force)

The Royal New Zealand Air Force's (RNZAF's) first Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft has been conducting operational trials from Fiji.

The operational trials began in the first week of April. A spokesperson from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) told Janes that the aircraft (NZ4801) and its crew are preparing for broad-range maritime surveillance operations. “Since the first P-8A was delivered to [the] NZDF in December 2022, the NZDF has been ensuring that its aircrew and support personnel are proficient to conduct maritime surveillance operations throughout the South Pacific environment,” the spokesperson said.

“This included supporting civilian agencies for such tasks as resource protection and search and rescue,” she added.

However, the NZDF declined to provide additional details about specific flight activities during this operational testing phase.

The RNZAF's second P-8A Poseidon arrived in New Zealand on 21 March, according to a statement by New Zealand Defence Minister Andrew Little. It is unclear if this second aircraft has already been deployed to Fiji.

“As the P-8As that have already arrived, and those that [are] still to come, build towards their capability release in mid-2023, they will continue to be active in the South Pacific region,” the NZDF spokesperson said, adding that no additional details could be released at this time.

In an earlier statement on 5 April, Air Commodore Shaun Sexton, the Air Component commander, said “operational trials and development were an important part of the introduction into service of a modern aircraft like the Poseidon”.

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