New Zealand receives fourth and final Boeing P-8A MPA

Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft
Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has taken delivery of its fourth and final Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 17 July.

The MoD said in a statement that the fleet of four MPAs will be used by the RNZAF in diverse air operations over New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the South Pacific, and the Southern Ocean including the Ross Dependency and Antarctica.

“The Poseidon aircraft will deliver support to New Zealand’s peace and security operations, maritime surveillance, resource protection, and humanitarian and disaster responses in New Zealand, the Pacific, and further abroad,” said the MoD, adding that the aircraft will also support a range of government agencies, including the Ministry for Primary Industries, the New Zealand Customs, the New Zealand Police, and the Department of Conservation.

The RNZAF earlier operated a fleet of six Lockheed Martin P-3K2 MPAs from the mid-1960s, which have conducted airborne surveillance and reconnaissance missions well beyond New Zealand’s immediate interests but also further afield with missions in Antarctica to the Arctic, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and through Europe and North America.

The P-3K2 MPA fleet have flown almost 150,000 hours throughout its service, with notable highlights such as the search for multinational search Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared in 2014 on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

New Zealand acquired four P-8As at a total cost of US$1.47 billion. The type features a maximum take-off weight of 85 tonnes with a fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes, enabling the type to remain on station 2,000 kilometres from its base, according to the MoD.

It is equipped with the Raytheon AN/APY-10 maritime surveillance radar and the L-3 Wescam MX-20HD electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, and can carry up to 126 sonobuoys for anti-submarine warfare missions. It is also designed to carry surface and underwater attack weapons in its internal weapons bay and on its underwing hardpoints.

by Jr Ng