Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has confirmed the deployment of a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft in support of the international effort to enforce United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea.
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The aircraft will deploy within the next week on Operation Argos, marking the first Australian Defence Force contribution to the operation for 2020.
Operating out of Kadena Airbase in Japan, the Poseidon aircraft will conduct airborne surveillance by monitoring and deterring illegal ship-to-ship transfers.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said Australia’s commitment to the enforcement of United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea is key to stability in the region.
“This deployment demonstrates our commitment to regional security and the rules-based order,” Minister Reynolds said.
“We rely on a stable north-east Asia as part of a free, open and economically prosperous wider Indo-Pacific region.
“Along with our international partners, Australia continues to maintain pressure on North Korea to adhere to United Nations Security Council sanctions through our dedicated air and maritime patrols.”
The Poseidon aircraft and its crew will deploy from No. 11 Squadron at RAAF Base Edinburgh, and follows the deployment of HMAS Parramatta to the region in late 2019.
The aircraft has advanced sensors and mission systems, including a state-of-the-art multi-role radar, high definition cameras, and an acoustic system with four times the processing capacity of the AP-3C Orions.
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:
- A 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.
A derivative of the 737-800 Next Generation, the P-8 combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum inter-operability in the future battlespace.
The P-8A aircraft has an extensive communications system including radios and data links across VHF, UHF, HF and SATCOM. An internal fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes allows the P-8A to conduct low level anti-submarine warfare missions at a distance of greater than 2,000 kilometres from base. The P-8A will be compatible for air-to-air refuelling with the KC-30A MRTT.
Australia has committed to purchasing 12 P-8A Poseidon aircraft, which will replace the ageing fleet of P-3C Orion aircraft. Australia's first aircraft arrived in Canberra on 16 November 2016, with the remaining 11 aircraft to be delivered by March 2020. IOC for the first eight P-8As is scheduled for the period 2017-2020.
Since the commencement of Operation ARGOS in 2018, the ADF has deployed maritime patrol aircraft on five occasions, and naval frigates on three occasions.