Royal New Zealand Air Force Takes Delivery of Second P-8 Poseidon Aircraft
New Zealand Minister Andrew Little has marked the arrival of the country’s second P-8A Poseidon aircraft alongside personnel at the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Base at Ohakea today. The Poseidon aircraft will be used by the RNZAF to conduct a range of tasks including aerial surveillance of New Zealand’s areas of interest such as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean including the Ross Dependency and Antarctica. The $2.3 billion Government investment in these aircraft represents a significant capability uplift for New Zealand’s maritime surveillance. The aircraft will support a range of Government agencies, including Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Customs, New Zealand Police, and the Department of Conservation.
“With two of the four P-8A Poseidons now on home soil this marks another significant milestone in the Government’s historic investment in Aotearoa New Zealand’s defence capability and maritime awareness. The Poseidons replace the P-3K2 Orions. They can travel faster, are more reliable, and offer greater interoperability with a number of our partners. This is important to support international partnerships as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in our region and further afield. The arrival of this second aircraft gives our defence leaders and our defence force a sense of confidence that they have more means to provide a meaningful response when tasked to do what they need to do,” Andrew Little said.
The Boeing P-8 Poseidon is an American maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft developed and produced by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, and derived from the civilian Boeing 737-800. It was developed for the United States Navy (USN). The P-8 operates in the anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles. It is armed with torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons. The P-8 is operated by the United States Navy, the Indian Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force. It has also been ordered by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the Republic of Korea Navy, and the German Navy.
Boeing publicly identified the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a potential customer in 2008, as a replacement for its P-3 Orions, due for replacement in 2025. In April 2017, the U.S. State Department approved the possible foreign military sale of up to four P-8As with equipment and support, valued at US$1.46 billion. In July 2018, the New Zealand government announced the purchase of four P-8As, to begin operations in 2023. Four P-8As were ordered in March 2019. The RNZAF is planning to operate the type for at least 30 years. In September 2020, the inaugural Royal New Zealand Air Force crew for the P-8A graduated training at Jacksonville, Florida. This crew will then qualify as instructors to train the first RNZAF crews back in New Zealand. The first P-8A was delivered in December 2022.