LONDON – New Zealand has received the first of four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft in a ceremony at the Museum of Flight on December 7.
“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 P-8A will also assist our South Pacific neighbors and deliver long-range search and rescue capability,” said Sarah Minson, acting Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery, New Zealand Ministry of Defence.
The milestone comes four years after the New Zealand Government entered into an agreement with the U.S. Navy for the P-8A.
“The unmatched, multi-mission maritime patrol capabilities of the P-8 will provide New Zealand the ability to extend their reach into the Pacific and beyond,” said Philip June, vice president and program manager, P-8 Programs.
“New Zealand joins eight other global customers including nearby Australia that have selected or already operate the P-8 and benefit greatly from its long-range maritime surveillance and warfare capabilities.”
Boeing Defence Australia will provide sustainment services for New Zealand’s fleet with the support of the P-8 International Program.
To date, the global operating P-8 fleet has amassed more than 450,000 mishap-free flight hours. The P-8 is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations.
In addition, the P-8 performs humanitarian and search and rescue missions around the globe.
Replacing the RNZAF P-3 Orion
New Zealand’s three remaining P-8 aircraft are all in advanced stages of production and will be delivered in 2023.
The aircraft will replace New Zealand’s current fleet of six P-3K2 Orions and will be based at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea. New Zealand’s Airborne Surveillance and Response Force (ASRF) is provided by No. 5 Squadron.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) is currently equipped with six Lockheed P-3K2 Orion aircraft, each having undergone various airframe and mission system upgrades since their introduction in the 1960s.
No. 5 Squadron’s operational crews typically have 12 personnel comprised of pilots, flight engineers, air warfare officers, air warfare specialists and an air ordnance specialist.
The RNZAF took delivery of five P-3B Orions in 1966 (NZ4201 – NZ4205). In 1985 an ex-RAAF P-3B was purchased (NZ4206).
All six aircraft were upgraded (avionics and radio systems) under project RIGEL in the early 1980’s and the re-designation P-3K was applied to these aircraft.
Following this, the aircraft were re-winged under project KESTRAL extending their service life. Since going through the latest upgrade program to modernise navigation, mission and communications, the aircraft are now designated the P-3K2.
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