A Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft arrived at the ADF’s main operating base in the Middle East on October 15 to join an international maritime security mission.

The Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, said the P-8A aircraft’s advanced surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities provided a modest and meaningful contribution to maintaining the freedom of navigation and safe passage of merchant vessels through the Strait of Hormuz.

“The P-8A will work alongside our coalition partners to keep vital supplies for the international community flowing through the region,” Senator Reynolds said.

“Australia has a longstanding commitment to maritime security in the waters of the Middle East and continues to support the fundamental right of all states under international law to expect safe passage of their trade.”

The P-8A’s one-month deployment is part of a commitment that includes deployment of a Royal Australian Navy frigate from January 2020 and a small number of ADF personnel serving in the International Maritime Security Construct headquarters in Bahrain.

“This military contribution complements our longstanding commitment with allies and partners to anti-piracy and counter-terrorism in the Middle East,” Senator Reynolds said.

The ADF’s Air Task Group commander, Group Captain Mark Barry, said it was the first time a RAAF P-8A aircraft had operated in the Middle East.

“Not only will the aircraft be making an important contribution to regional peace and security, but we will also be able to test the P-8A aircraft and its crew in a number of challenging scenarios,” Group Captain Barry said.

The P-8A has advanced sensors and mission systems, including a state-of-the-art multi-role radar, high-definition cameras and an acoustic system with four times the processing capacity of the ageing AP-3C Orion aircraft that it supersedes.

“The Poseidon will make a welcome addition to the efforts of our coalition partners to boost regional security and help shipping pass through the Strait of Hormuz without interference,” Group Captain Barry said.