Celebrating a P-8A project milestone
A key P-8A Poseidon project milestone was celebrated this week, as representatives from New Zealand, defence personnel and Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems senior staff gathered for a keeling ceremony at the Spirit plant in Wichita Kansas, USA.
Four P-8A Poseidons are currently under construction for New Zealand, and the project is on schedule to replace the P-3K2 Orion fleet from 2023.
Like the Orions, the Poseidon aircraft will deliver support to New Zealand’s peace and security operations, maritime surveillance, resource protection, humanitarian and disaster responses, here in New Zealand, the Pacific, and further abroad.
The keeling ceremony on 16 March 2022 marked the second keel moving through the factory while attendees were able to view the first fuselage on a rail carriage ready to depart for Seattle. Once in Seattle the aircraft will be assembled and fitout will commence. (Watch footage(external link) of the fuselage arriving.)
NZ Ambassador to the United States H.E. Rosemary Banks was on hand to witness the keeling ceremony and spoke at the event.
“Today’s keeling ceremony is the beginning of a new era for New Zealand’s maritime patrol and response capability. Our four P-8A Poseidons will better equip our defence forces to extend their reach into the Pacific and beyond, working with our partners and friends.”
Mike Yardley, Deputy Secretary of Capability Delivery at Manatū Kaupapa Waonga Ministry of Defence congratulated all involved in the project to date. “The construction of the P-8A fuselages is a significant milestone worth celebrating. The project is currently on schedule and we anticipate the first aircraft will arrive in Aotearoa in December this year.”
“This represents a significant investment to strengthen New Zealand’s maritime surveillance capability and we are appreciative of the contribution that all parties are making.”
Also in attendance at the ceremony were Commodore Andrew Brown, Commander of Logistics NZDF, Brigadier Mike Shapland, New Zealand Defence Attaché, WGCDR Shauna Graham, Air Attaché, WGCDR Chris Pearn, NZ P-8A FMS Case Manager and SQNLDR Blair Walmsley NZ P-8A Operations Foreign Liaison Officer.
About the P-8A Poseidon
The P-8A Poseidon is a multi-mission aircraft that was developed to replace the P-3C Orion for long-range maritime patrol in the United States Navy. It has also been selected by Australia, the United Kingdom and Norway and a variant is used by India. The P-8A has been designed and purpose built to patrol maritime environments and monitor vessels on and below the surface.
The P-8A is a military aircraft based on the commercial Boeing 737-800 fuselage. However, it has been substantially modified to include a weapons bay, hard points, increased electrical generation capacity, Boeing 737-900 wings and structural strengthening for military operations. The aircraft is produced by Boeing Defense, Space and Security in Seattle.
The P-8A has modern surveillance sensors, electronic support measures, self-protection systems and a communications suite of radios, data links and satellite communication. A fuel capacity of almost 34 tonnes, gives the P-8A the ability to remain on station 2,000 kilometres from base.
P-8A Poseidon statistics:
Wingspan: 123.6 ft (37.64 m)
Length: 129.5 ft (39.47 m)
Height: 42.1 ft (12.83 m)
Propulsion: Two CFM56-7B engines 27,300 lbs thrust
Speed: 490 kts (902km/h)
Range: 1,200 nm with 4 hours on station
Ceiling: 41,000 ft (12,496 m)