16 April 2015

First Australian Pilot for RAAF’s New P-8A Poseidon Aircraft Takes Flight

16 April 2015

The Royal Australian Air Force's first P-8A Poseidon aircrew: Warrant Officer, Airborne Electronics Analyst, Pilot, Pilot (Detachment Commander and Air Combat Officer), Air Combat Officer, Warrant Officer, Airborne Electroncs Analyst and Air Combat Officer (photo : Aus DoD)

The introduction of Australia’s new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft moved a step closer today when Flight Lieutenant James Pears became the first Australian pilot to fly the P‑8A Poseidon at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, United States this morning AEST [afternoon of Tuesday 14 April US EDT]. The aircraft undertook about a four hour sortie in the vicinity of the Naval Air Station, landing just before 12pm AEST today.

Led by Squadron Leader Arran Moore, Australia has a team of seven aircrew training on the P-8A Poseidon with the US Navy, ahead of its introduction into the RAAF fleet.

SQNLDR Moore said the P-8A Poseidon would be Australia’s next maritime patrol aircraft and would provide the RAAF with an enhanced maritime capability.

“The team and I are honoured to be given the opportunity to take a leading role in its introduction to Australian service,” he said.

SQNLDR Moore and the first Australian P-8A Poseidon crew has undergone an intensive training program in the United States before today’s first flight in the aircraft.

Speaking about today’s milestone flight, FLTLT Pears said it was fantastic to have the opportunity to put months of training into practice.

“The aircraft handles well and performs to expectations; the levels of automation and assistance to the pilot are amazing over that offered by the AP-3C,” he said.

The United States Navy has integrated the Australians within Patrol Squadron 10 (VP-10) for the transition to the P-8A.

Commanding Officer of VP-10 Commander James Johnston said having the Australians embedded within the squadron was a tremendous benefit to the unit.

“Not only do we all benefit from the varied backgrounds and experiences, the level of interoperability that having such an integrated team builds is world class,” he added.

Following their transition onto the P-8A, the Australian contingent will remain in the US and provide additional instructional resources to the US Navy (Patrol Squadron 30), as they continue their transition to the P-8A as well as training the first Australian crews commencing in 2016.

SQNLDR Moore said the welcome and support from Patrol Squadron 30 had been phenomenal.

”Our hosts have made us an integral part of the unit which has assisted our smooth transition onto the P-8A.”

The P-8A Poseidon aircraft will dramatically boost Australia’s ability to monitor its maritime approaches and patrol Australia’s vast maritime jurisdiction and search and rescue area — an area that equates to nearly 11 per cent of the world’s oceans.

A potent and versatile aircraft based on Boeing’s 737 Next Generation airframe, the state-of-the-art P-8A Poseidon can conduct search and rescue, anti-submarine and maritime strike missions, in addition to patrolling Australia’s extensive maritime approaches.

The P-8A Poseidon will replace the Air Force’s aging AP-3C Orions that have served Australia so well for over four decades.

The RAAF is set to receive eight P-8A Poseidon aircraft, with the first to be delivered in 2017 to RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia, with all eight fully operational by 2021.

The Government will consider options for further P-8A Poseidon aircraft, subject to the outcomes of the next Defence White Paper.

(Aus DoD)

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