P 8A mockup WEB

Air Surveillance Maritime Patrol

This project is delivering a new fit-for-purpose air surveillance capability to the New Zealand Defence Force.  


The Strategic Defence Policy Statement 2018 was launched in July 2018, providing a basis for the P-8A proposal to be considered against the Government's priorities and policy settings. The Statement emphasised the importance of New Zealand's maritime domain, and that maritime security is fundamental to national security.

In July 2018 the Government approved acquisition of four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to replace the six aging P-3K2 Orion aircraft. Of the available options, the P-8A Poseidon was assessed to be the lowest cost and lowest risk option for New Zealand.

The P-8A Poseidon will be a key component of meeting obligations to our friends in the Pacific and our commitments to monitor and respond to events in the Southern Ocean. It will allow for:

  • Participation in international task groups
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Search and rescue
  • Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief
  • Protection of the Southern Ocean.

The aircraft will be operated by the New Zealand Defence Force, and will provide service to other government departments including the Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Customs Service, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, The Rescue Coordination Centre and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

This is a once in a generation purchase, with the aircraft expected to be in service for at least 30 years.


Four P-8A Poseidon aircraft are being acquired through a direct source procurement through the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process. New Zealand regularly purchases defence equipment through this process, which is well-developed and understood. The FMS procurement is being managed by the US Government contract and management entities on New Zealand's behalf.


The first P-8A aircraft is due for delivery in December 2022, with the remaining three to be delivered during 2023. 

The first P-8A Poseidon fuselage(external link) has been delivered to the 737 factory in Renton, Washington in the USA. This is one of the four aircraft that are being built to replace the P-3K2 Orion fleet currently equipping the Royal New Zealand Air Force's 5 Squadron Airborne Surveillance and Response Force capability. Delivering the P-8A aircraft is one part of a project being led by New Zealand's Ministry of Defence Te Manatū Kaupapa Waonga.

Once assembled and fitted out, the aircraft will head to Aotearoa New Zealand and will represent a significant investment in strengthening Aotearoa's maritime surveillance capability.  


First soil for the new fleet's supporting operational infrastructure at Ohakea was turned by the Minister of Defence(external link) in November 2019. This infrastructure component is an integral part of the wider Air Surveillance Maritime Patrol project. 

The infrastructure build of Te Whare Toroa (the new home for the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s No. 5 Squadron and the P-8A Poseidon aircraft) continues to take shape at RNZAF Base Ohakea, with an expected completion date of late-2022. Once the structure is complete, the building fitout can commence, with a predicted completion of opening date of late-2023. 

On 26 May 2022 the lifting into place of the 570 tonne Roof 1 was completed over the course of the day.


Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) aircrew continue to be trained on the new aircraft in the United States, ensuring New Zealand will have enough qualified personnel to operate the P-8As when they arrive.

The RNZAF has a fully qualified P-8A aircrew operating as instructors with the US Navy gaining operational experience with the new capability. Two RNZAF crews have commenced training with the US Navy at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, USA.

P-8A maintenance instructors, acceptance and delivery crews continue to work with the Royal Australian Air Force at RAAF Base Edinburgh, Adelaide, Australia. 


Contact: Sarah Minson, Director, Air Domain

Email: industry@defence.govt.nz 

Last updated: May 2022