Nigel Pittaway | Canberra
The first of 12 Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force touched down in Canberra on November 15.
The aircraft had flown in to Avalon Airport south of Melbourne on its delivery flight from the US the day before and arrived in Canberra with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies on board.
“The P-8A is a real piece of the ‘puzzle’ that is going to be a 5th generation Air Force,” AM Davies said, when asked to describe the capability of the new aircraft.
“A further two crews have already commenced their training with the US Navy and we will receive the second aircraft in March next year.”
The day after the official welcome, the aircraft was flown to its new home base at RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia, where it will shortly commence a series of Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) activities under local conditions.
The Poseidon is replacing the ageing, but still effective, Lockheed AP-3C Orion in RAAF service, beginning with No.11 Squadron, which will relinquish the Orion in favour of the new aircraft in coming days.
Commanding Officer of 11 Sqn, Wing Commander David Titheridge, who was also aboard the Poseidon for its historic arrival, said that two complete RAAF crews have been trained on the aircraft in the United States and other Australians are serving as instructors with the US Navy’s training unit (VP-30) at Jacksonville, Florida.
“A further two crews have already commenced their training with the US Navy and we will receive the second aircraft in March next year,” WGCDR Titheridge said.
Following conversion of the second operational unit, No.10 Squadron, at Edinburgh, the Orion is due to be retired from service at the end of 2019.