P 8A mockup WEB

Future Air Surveillance Capability Maritime Patrol Aircraft

This project seeks to ensure that the Defence Force maintains an air surveillance capability that is fit for purpose.

Government approval

The Strategic Defence Policy Statement 2018 was launched in July 2018. This provided a basis for consideration of the P-8A proposal against the Government's priorities and policy settings. The Statement emphasises 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:

  • environmental monitoring
  • search and rescue
  • humanitarian assistance and disaster relief
  • protection of the Southern Ocean
  • participation in international task groups.

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 Resuce 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.

The Government will further consider options for a complementary capability or capabilities for lower-end, civilian maritime tasks, through the use of cost-effective options that could include smaller manned aircraft, remotely-piloted aircraft systems, or satellites.


Four P-8A Poseidon aircraft will be purchased via 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 will be managed by the US Government contract and management entities on New Zealand's behalf.

Current status

The P-8A aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2023. Design of infrastructure to house the aircraft at Base Ohakea will commence in July 2018, with completion scheduled to occur prior to the arrival of the aircraft.

Contact: Neil Hygate, Director Air Domain
Email: industry@defence.govt.nz

Last updated: 9 July 2018