New Zealand’s P-8A Poseidon plans

New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark provided details of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s proposed acquisition of the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft on June 12, 2019.

Mark’s comments follow the release of the 2019 Defence Capability Plan by the New Zealand government the previous day.

Mark said: “Last year the Coalition Government decided to buy four P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The P-8As are a once-ina- generation purchase, and we will ensure that the Air Force’s crucial maritime patrol capability is maintained for decades to come. The project is on schedule to replace the [Lockheed Martin] P-3K2 Orion fleet from 2023, and I’m pleased to announce further details today, with the release of a project timeline.”

In an attached document, Mark indicated that training of Air Force personnel will begin at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in the United States in February 2020, with the maiden flight of the first aircraft to follow in the second quarter of 2022. Delivery of the first aircraft will occur in April 2023, followed by the initial operational capability milestone in July 2023 and final operational capability in 2025.

The Poseidons will be operated by 5 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force, which currently operates the P-3K2 from RNZAF Base Auckland (Whenuapai). The unit will relocate to RNZAF Base Ohakea by April 2023, ready to commence operations with the new aircraft.

According to the New Zealand government, the deal is valued at NZD 2.36 billion, which also includes the purchase of training systems, infrastructure and entry into service costs.

The current Orion fleet will reach the end of the type’s service life in 2025. Nigel Pittaway