P-8A Poseidon

An Air Force P-8A on patrol over the Pacific Ocean.

Based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, the P-8A Poseidon is an important part of Australia's future maritime patrol and response strategy.

The P-8A aircraft and MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) will replace the AP-3C Orions, which are due for withdrawal in 2018-19.

The Government has committed to acquiring 15 P-8A Poseidon aircraft. 12 P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft have been approved for acquisition, and three are subject to normal Government Defence acquisition approval processes.

The first aircraft arrived in Canberra on 16 November 2016, and the remaining 11 will be delivered by March 2023. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of the first eight P-8A aircraft is scheduled for 2017-2020.

IOC can be declared when one or more subsets of the capability can be deployed on operations. IOC considers the personnel, training, major systems, supplies, facilities and training areas, logistics, support, command and management required to deliver the subset of capability required.

About the aircraft

The P-8A Poseidon has advanced sensors and mission systems, including a state-of-the-art multi-role radar, high definition cameras, and an acoustic system with four times the processing capacity of the AP-3C Orions.

The P-8A is built specifically as a military aircraft. It is based on the proven commercial designs of Boeing's 737-800 fuselage, but has been substantially modified to include:

  • a weapons bay
  • under wing and under fuselage hard points for weapons, and
  • increased strengthening for low level (down to 200ft) operations and high angle turns.

The P-8A aircraft has an extensive communications system including radios and data links across VHF, UHF, HF and SATCOM.

An internal fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes allows the P-8A to conduct low level anti-submarine warfare missions at a distance of greater than 2,000 kilometres from base. The P-8A will be compatible for air-to-air refuelling with the KC-30A MRTT.


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, 11 weapons stations
Weapons Self-Protection Measures, Lightweight Anti-Submarine Torpedo, AGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles