Hon Ron Mark
Minister of Defence
9 July 2018
New Zealand to buy four P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft
The coalition Government has agreed to purchase four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from the United
The four aircraft will replace the aging six P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft that have been operated by the Royal
New Zealand Air Force since the 1960s. The current Orion fleet will reach the end of their expected operational life in
“The purchase ensures the Defence Force can continue to deliver the country’s maritime surveillance, resource
protection, humanitarian and disaster response around New Zealand and across the South Pacific,” says Ron Mark.
“This decision strengthens the coalition Government’s Pacific Reset by providing a maritime patrol capability with the
significant range and endurance needed to assist our partners in the region.
“The purchase enables New Zealand to continue to deploy in a wide range of airborne maritime situations independently,
and when required, work effectively with partners including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which
all operate, or will operate, the aircraft,” says Ron Mark.
The role of maritime patrol aircraft includes:
Supporting maritime surveillance, humanitarian aid and disaster response, and resource protection around NZ and in the
Contributing to the international rules based order through participation in global peace and security operations;
Search and rescue in New Zealand’s region, which stretches from the South Pole almost to the Equator and covers 1/11th
of the earth’s surface;
Environmental and marine resource monitoring.
“One example of the requirement for a fully capable maritime patrol aircraft is simply the number of lives that can be
saved,” Mr Mark said.
“In the last seven years of search and rescue operations in our region, Orion maritime patrols have contributed to
saving 119 lives.
“Other tasks the Orions have undertaken recently have included participation in international operations to counter
piracy and illicit smuggling off the Horn of Africa, surveillance of the volcano in Vanuatu, assessing damage from
Cyclones Winston and Gita in the Pacific, surveillance of critical infrastructure after the Kaikoura earthquake, and
“Maintaining a maritime patrol capability is essential for New Zealand’s national security, and for our ability to
contribute to global security efforts,” says Ron Mark.
The new P-8As, training systems, infrastructure and introduction into service costs will total $2.346 billion. They will
be delivered and begin operations from 2023.
The capital cost will be spread over a number of financial years out to 2025/26. This is an investment decision that has
fallen on this Government to make, but will be spread over the medium term and will deliver for New Zealand for many
decades to come. The P-8A was the most cost-effective maritime patrol aircraft option available.
No. 5 Squadron, which currently operates the Orions, will shift from Whenuapai to Ohakea air force base to operate the
The Government will also consider options for a complementary maritime surveillance capability during the forthcoming
Defence Capability Plan review, due to be completed by the end of 2018.
“The complementary capability will consider smaller manned aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) or
satellites, for additional maritime surveillance tasks within New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone and near region.
This will free up the new P-8A fleet to fly more missions, in the South Pacific and further afield,” says Ron Mark.