Australia has confirmed a plan to buy eight 737-based P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft from Boeing, following the US and Indian navies in ordering the type (US Navy image below).
The fact that Canberra has approved the roughly A$4 billion ($3.6 billion) transaction isn’t a surprise – it has been involved in the P-8 and precursor MMA project since 2007, after all – and its AP-3C replacement should achieve initial operational capability in 2019. You can find out more details by reading our report on the selection by Canberra-based correspondent Andrew McLaughlin, who also expects an MQ-4C Triton order to follow within months.
I had a quick chat with a crew member from the US Navy P-8A which visited the recent Singapore air show from Okinawa, Japan, and he described the transition from the P-3C Orion to the new model as being “a night and day difference”. While the Poseidon still has a way to go with its fleet introduction and receiving additional capabilities, Australia should be flying increment 3-standard examples operationally by 2021. I expect that the Nimrod-less UK might well be watching closely.
Boeing hasn’t done all that badly with making sales to the Australian Defence Force of late: 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets (and 12 EA-18G Growlers to follow, on top of an in-service fleet of almost 70 “Classic” Hornets); six C-17s; six 737-based Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft; and seven CH-47Fs (to replace six D-model Chinooks).