P-8A Poseidon

In February 2014, the Government announced the acquisition of eight P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft and approved an option for a further four aircraft subject to the outcomes of the Defence White Paper review.

Together with high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles,  the P-8A aircraft will replace the AP-3C Orions.

The first aircraft will be delivered in 2017, with all eight aircraft fully operational by 2021.

The acquisition of the eight P-8A aircraft will cost approximately $4 billion, including support facilities.

P-8A Poseidon

The P-8A is built from the ground up as a military aircraft. It is based on the proven commercial designs of Boeing’s 737-800 fuselage, but is substantially structurally modified to include a bomb bay, under wing and under fuselage hard points for weapons, as well as increased strengthening to allow for continued low level (down to 200ft) operations and 60° angle of bank turns.

An internal fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes, gives the P-8A an unrefuelled range of over 4000 nautical miles (7,500 km) or the ability to remain on station conducting low level Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) missions for over four hours at a range of more than 1,200 nautical miles (2,200 km) from base. The P-8A is also air-to-air refuelable from the boom of tanker aircraft such as the KC-30A, pushing its endurance out to over 20 hours – making it possible to patrol Australia’s isolated Southern Ocean territories.

The P-8A has 11 weapon hard points (five in the bomb bay, four under the wings and two under the fuselage) and can carry over 22,000 pounds (10,000kg) of weapons. All the hard points have digital weapon interfaces. The aircraft has an extensive communications suite of over 10 separate radios and data links across the VHF, UHF, HF and SATCOM spectrums.

Like the Orion, the P-8A has advanced sensors and mission systems. These include an advanced multi-mode radar, a high definition electro-optic camera, an acoustic system (that has four times the processing capacity of the current AP-3C Orion’s system) and an advanced electronic support system that is a derivative of the system fitted to the EA-18G Growler.

Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the P-8A is scheduled for the period 2017 - 2020.

P-8A Poseidon


Manufacturer Boeing
Role Maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and response
Crew Pilot, co-pilot, mission specialists
Engine Two CFM56-7 BE(27) engines each with 27000 lb thrust
Airframe Length: 39.5 m, height: 12.8 m
Wingspan 37.6 m
Weight 85,820 kg (max)
Max Speed 907 km/h
Range 7,500 km
Ceiling 41,000 feet
Capacity Sonobuoys and 11 weapons stations
Weapons Torpedos, anti-ship missiles and self-protection measures