The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) is readying for the start of Boeing P-8A Poseidon operations, with an aircraft deployed to Fiji and the service also co-operating with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

A single No. 5 Squadron RNZAF P-8A has deployed to Nadi, Fiji as part of the operational trials for the type, says the RNZAF.

“With the inaugural flight to Fiji by one of our new P-8A aircraft, and with Fiji being the first Pacific nation the P-8A will operate from during the trials, we’re also continuing a connection with Fiji which goes back many years,” says RNZAF Air Commodore Shaun Sexton.

“We have based our P-3K2 aircraft in Fiji during multi-day search and rescue operations or maritime patrols in the Pacific,” says Sexton. “We’re really looking forward to seeing this connection continue.”

So far the RNZAF has received two P-8As. The last two will be delivered in by mid-2023, when the 737-derived type will commence operations.

The Fiji deployment involves the aircraft registered NZ4802. The RNZAF’s other P-8A, NZ4801, was recently dispatched to RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia, where RNZAF crews worked alongside RAAF counterparts to conduct search missions.

The RNZAF retired its P-3K2 Orion fleet in February several months earlier than planned, citing sustainment and personnel issues. At the time, it said other types, such as the Lockheed Martin C-130H, would support search and rescue operations pending the service entry of the new P-8As.