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Australia to buy P-8A aircraft to boost maritime surveillance capabilities

02-21-2014 14:06 BJT

CANBERRA, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Australian government has approved the acquisition of eight P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Friday.

These aircraft will dramatically boost Australia's ability to monitor its maritime approaches and patrol over 2.5 million square kilometers of Australia's marine jurisdiction, an area equating to nearly 4 percent of the world's oceans, the prime minister said in a press release.

The acquisition of the eight P-8A aircraft will cost approximately 4 billion AU dollars (3.6 billion U.S. dollars), including support facilities.

The first aircraft will be delivered in 2017, with all eight fully operational by 2021. The government has also approved an option for a further four aircraft subject to the outcomes of the Defense White Paper review.

Together with high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles, these aircraft will replace the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orions that have served Australia for over four decades.

The P-8A is a potent and highly versatile aircraft. As well as patrolling Australia's maritime approaches it can conduct search and rescue, anti-submarine and maritime strike missions using torpedoes and Harpoon missiles.

"These aircraft will work closely with other existing and future ADF (Australian Defense Force) assets, and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service aviation fleet, to secure our ocean resources, including offshore energy resources off northern Australia, and protect our borders," the prime minister said.

This project will offer significant opportunities for industry and jobs creation. Australian businesses have already won about 8. 5 million AU dollar (7.65 million U.S. dollars) of work associated with Australia's participation in the P-8A program and stand to benefit by as much as 1 billion (900 million U.S. dollars) through construction of facilities at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia and elsewhere and work to meet maintenance and other support needs.

The prime minister and Minister for Defense David Johnston on Friday inspected a visiting U.S. Navy P-8A aircraft currently in Australia for joint exercises with the RAAF and the Royal Australian Navy.

Editor:Zhang |Source: Xinhua

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