Boeing’s fit-out of the Royal Australian Air Force’s purpose-built, state-of-the-art P-8A Poseidon Integrated Training Centre in South Australia has commenced.
The new 16,500-square metre centre will accommodate 70 advanced P-8A operational and tactical training devices, including two pilot simulators, two air combat officer simulators, and a Boeing 737 fuselage ordnance load trainer.
Boeing Defence Australia P-8A Poseidon program lead Brett Newell said the facility represented a massive leap forward for South Australia’s maritime aircraft training capability.
“The comprehensive P-8A training solution we’re installing over the next six months supports one of the biggest shifts in Australia’s anti-surface and anti-submarine capability history. The server room alone is almost as big as the entire AP-3C Orion training facility," Newell said.
“These trainers will ensure RAAF pilots and mission crews are prepared to take full advantage of the P-8A Poseidon capabilities for any mission, at any time."
Overseeing the P-8A transition program, Deputy Director Capability Transition Wing Commander Gary Lewis said Boeing will provide support to the training devices and will handover operational control of the training facility to the RAAF.
The Australian government is acquiring 12 P-8A Poseidon aircraft to be delivered by March 2020 and maintained at RAAF Base Edinburgh.
Together with the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the P-8A aircraft will replace Australia's AP-3C Orions, which are due for withdrawal in 2018-19.
The P-8A Poseidon uses advanced sensors and mission systems, including an advanced multi-role radar, high definition cameras and an acoustic system with four times the processing capacity of Air Force’s current AP-3C Orions.
The government has committed to acquiring a total of 15 P-8A Poseidon aircraft. Twelve P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft have been approved for acquisition with an additional three aircraft subject to normal government Defence acquisition approval processes, including the timeframe for delivery.
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The first aircraft arrived in Canberra on 16 November 2016, with the remaining 11 aircraft to be delivered by March 2020. Initial operational capability (IOC) for the first eight P-8A's is scheduled for 2017-20.
Defence will invest $250 million in the Boeing training simulator system at RAAF Base Edinburgh and $409 million to improve base facilities for full operations, estimated for completion by early 2019.
Minister for Defence Insustry Christopher Pyne said the surveillance plane and technology systems will create jobs and support the local economy as part of a broader, long-term plan to grow the operations of Edinburgh airbase.
“This significant investment in Defence facilities will create more than 70 jobs in the local area,” Minister Pyne said.
“Lendlease, the contractor engaged by Defence to construct the facilities at RAAF Base Edinburgh, has advised that the vast majority of the work to construct the facilities is going to contractors from the local area.”
The P-8A aircraft have an extensive communications suite that includes radios and data links across the VHF, UHF, HF and SATCOM spectrums. An internal fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes gives the P-8A the ability to remain on station conducting 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 refueling with the KC-30A MRTT.