New Zealand has inducted its fourth and final Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea.

This aircraft comes under the country’s “once in a generation investment” in a foreign military sales agreement with the US Department of Defense for four Poseidon units and supplementary equipment in a contract worth NZ$2.34bn ($1.48bn).

The southwestern Pacific country will employ its new fleet in its peace and security operations, maritime surveillance, resource protectiom, humanitarian and disaster responses in New Zealand, the Pacific and further abroad.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force will use the four Poseidons to conduct a range of tasks including aerial surveillance of New Zealand’s areas of interest such as the Exclusive Economic Zone, the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean including the Ross Dependency and Antarctica.

“From the initital contract with the US Foreign Military Sales process, through to the construction of the fuselages in Kansas, the trip to the Boeing factory in Seattle, their paint roll out and test flights and oeprational release earllier this month, this has been an incredibly smooth process.

“These aircraft are now all ready to begin their lifetime of service to Aotearoa, New Zealand.”

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Replacing the P-3 Orion with the Poseidon

The P-8A Poseidon is a multi-mission aircraft that was developed to replace the P-3 Orion for long-range maritime patrol in the US Navy. It has been selected by Australia, Canada, Germany, Norway and South Korea. Boeing designed the Poseidon to patrol maritime environments and monitor vessels on and below the surface.

According to GlobalData intelligence, New Zealand had two P-3 Orion variants, the oldest fleet was procured from the US in 1966 and another fleet acquired from Australia in 1985.

The surge in New Zealand’s defence expenditure, particularly in 2019, was mainly driven by the country’s focus on modernising its armed forces to protect its interests in the region amid the growing geopolitical influence of China.