The Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft are set to receive a suite of capability upgrades as part of an approved foreign military sale.
Boeing secured the US$326.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order to support the development, integration and testing of Increment 3 Block capabilities into the US Navy and RAAF's fleets of P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
Fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation (US Navy) funds in the amount of $14,442,320; and co-operative engagement agreement funds in the amount of $19,200,000 are being obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
The US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. Work as part of the US$326.3 million deal will be performed in Washington, Maryland, New York, Illinois, California, Arizona, Missouri and Florida, and is expected to be complete in March 2024.
Australia is an integral global partner in the Poseidon program, supporting the largest P-8A training facility outside of the US, which is part of the government's $5.2 billion investment in Australia's Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft capability.
The P-8A is built specifically as a military aircraft. It is based on the proven commercial designs of Boeing's 737-800 fuselage, but has been substantially modified to include:
- An internal weapons bay;
- Under wing and under fuselage hard points for weapons, and
- Increased strengthening for low level (down to 200 feet) operations and high angle turns.
The P-8A aircraft has an extensive communications system including radios and data links across VHF, UHF, HF and SATCOM.
These cutting-edge aircraft conduct a range of tasks including anti-submarine warfare; maritime and overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; electronic support; as well as supporting search and rescue missions. Poseidon is capable of broad-area maritime and littoral operations. It is also effective for humanitarian and search and rescue missions.
A derivative of the 737-800 Next Generation, the P-8 combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the future battle space.
The Australian government has approved the purchase of 12 P-8A Poseidon aircraft, which will replace the ageing fleet of P-3C Orion aircraft.