Boeing has completed the Royal New Zealand Air Force's (RNZAF's) first P-8A Poseidon (serial number NZ4801, line number 9449) and rolled the aircraft out of the paint shop at the company’s production facility in Renton, Washington, on the evening of July 21 after being painted up in full RNZAF colours.
US State Department approval for New Zealand to purchase up to four P-8As had been granted on April 28, 2017, following which the country’s Government announced on July 9, 2018, that agreement had been reached to purchase all four aircraft. An initial two contracts were awarded to Boeing on February 28, 2019 and March 6, 2020, for the acquisition of long-lead items required for these aircraft. A further award on March 30, 2020, finalised the contract for procurement of them.
The first P-8A aircraft will make its first flight in the coming weeks and, following mission systems integration, is due for delivery in December 2022, with the remaining three to be delivered during 2023. The Poseidons will replace the RNZAF’s ageing P-3K2 Orions, which have been in service since the 1960s. Of the available options, the P-8A Poseidon was assessed to be the lowest cost and lowest risk option for New Zealand. The Poseidons will replace the RNZAF’s ageing P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft fleet, which have been in service since the 1960s. Of the available options, the P-8A Poseidon was assessed to be the lowest cost and lowest risk option for New Zealand.
The P-8A Poseidon will be a key component of meeting obligations to New Zealand’s friends in the Pacific and its commitments to monitor and respond to events in the Southern Ocean. It will allow for: Participation in international task groups; Environmental monitoring; Search and rescue; Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; Protection of the Southern Ocean. The aircraft will provide service to other government departments including the Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Customs Service, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, The Rescue Coordination Centre and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.