SYDNEY: Australia on Friday said it will buy eight Poseidon aircraft for US$3.6 billion, which will form the core of its surveillance and maritime strike capacity for decades to come.
The Boeing planes will be used to monitor over 2.5 million square kilometers of the country’s marine jurisdiction—some 4 percent of the world’s oceans.
“The first duty of government is the defense of the nation. This is a government which is abso–lutely committed to the border security of our country,” said Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
“This fine and highly capable aircraft will be at the heart of our surveillance and maritime strike capacity for the decades to come.”
Australia, a close ally of the United States, is expected to use the planes to patrol far over the Indian Ocean, which has become one of the world’s most vital energy supply routes.
The new aircraft will replace Australia’s ageing Lockheed AP-3C Orion aircraft.
The P-8A is described as highly versatile and able to “conduct search and rescue, anti-submarine and maritime strike missions using torpedoes and Harpoon missiles.”
Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshall Geoff Brown, said they would give Australia a cutting edge advantage in protecting its borders.
“The P-8 gives us an unpre–cedented capability to find, fix and track both surface ships and submarines, in combination with our wedged tail aircraft which have an unprecedented ability to attract airborne targets,” he said.
“It will certainly help the Royal Australian Navy be able to have freedom of maneuver right through our region for the next 20 or 30 years.”