The US Navy's Boeing-built P-8A Poseidon long-range maritime patrol aircraft has achieved initial operational capability (IOC).
IOC follows completion of the operational readiness evaluation of the first deploying P-8A Poseidon squadron and the Patrol and Reconnaissance Group commander officially declaring the first P-8A squadron, Patrol Squadron (VP) 16, "prepared for deployment".
Patrol and Reconnaissance Group commander, rear admiral Matt Carter, said the P-8 multimission platform will continue to provide invaluable capabilities.
"There has never been a greater need for a new patrol and reconnaissance aircraft now that the ageing P-3 is nearing the end of its lifecycle," Carter added.
The IOC will allow the US Navy to effectively deploy the P-8A for operational missions, while replacing the aging P-3C Orion four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.
"The P-8, along with the Triton, will strengthen the maritime mission and provide greater situational awareness," Carter continued.
A total of 12 low rate initial production aircraft have been delivered to the US Navy to date, with the final aircraft in the second production lot scheduled for delivery before the end of the year.
Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290) programme manager captain Scott Dillon said: "The programme office is continuing to support the needs of the fleet and deliver an aircraft that recapitalises and improves upon the capabilities of its predecessor; greatly enhancing the effectiveness of the navy's forward deployed squadrons."
The P-8A Poseidon aircraft has been designed to support missions including long-range anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, as well as broad-area, maritime and littoral operations.