The Australian defence minister senator David Johnston has said that a deal has been sealed with the US Navy for the procurement of the first four P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft.
As part of the Advanced Acquisition Contract for Australia’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft, an initial payment of $159m has been handed over to the navy for the production, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
To be deployed by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the latest procurement would allow the replacement of the ageing AP-3C Orion fleet, and enable Boeing to place orders for the initial four P-8A aircraft.
Johnston said: "Together with high altitude unmanned aerial vehicles, these aircraft will replace the Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orions that have served Australia so well for over four decades.
"These state-of-the-art aircraft will dramatically boost Australia’s ability to monitor its maritime approaches."
Last week, Boeing was awarded a $296m initial contract by the US navy to procure parts required for the production of 12 additional full-rate production (FRP) lot 2 P-8A aircraft, including eight for the US Navy and four for the RAAF.
With the delivery of the first aircraft scheduled for 2017, all eight aircraft will be delivered by 2018.
Johnston added: "These aircraft work closely with other existing and future defence assets, and the Australian Customs and Border Protection aviation fleet, to secure our vitally important ocean resources, including northern Australia’s offshore energy resources and to protect our borders."
A derivative of Boeing’s 737 commercial aircraft, P-8A can also be deployed to execute search and rescue, anti-submarine and maritime strike missions by means of torpedoes and harpoon missiles.
In addition to Boeing, the team for the production of the P-8A aircraft includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems and GE Aviation.
Image: The US Navy’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. Photo: US Navy photo by Clark Pierce.