Australia’s first P-8A Poseidon aircraft has completed its maiden flight.
The aircraft flew a short distance from Renton Airfield to Boeing Field in Washington, USA, where the P-8A’s sophisticated mission systems will be installed as part of project AIR 7000.
The $5.4 billion P-8A program will provide Australia’s future manned maritime patrol and response aircraft capability, replacing in part the AP-3C Orion aircraft.
The P-8A Poseidon is 39.5 metres long, has a maximum takeoff weight of 85,820 kilograms and a wingspan of 37.6 metres. Powered by two jet engines, it has a top speed of 907km/h with a maximum range of 7500 kilometres.
Head of aerospace systems division, Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Catherine Roberts congratulated Defence’s co-operative program partner, the United States Navy, along with prime contractor Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS), on achieving this significant milestone.
“This major acquisition is creating opportunities for the Australian defence industry to participate in maintenance and to develop training facilities and infrastructure,” AVM Roberts said.
“Aircraft production includes around $25 million of high-tech production work undertaken by local subsidiary, Boeing Aerostructures Australia.
“The primary roles of the P-8A include the detection and response to naval surface and submarine threats, surveillance and reconnaissance, and assisting in search and rescue operations.”
With a saving of US$260 million compared to the initial budget, the P-8A Poseidon aircraft were acquired through a cooperative program with the United States Navy and contracted to BDS.
A Royal Australian Air Force crew will fly the aircraft to Australia in late 2016 following post-production checks and acceptance.