Getting Ready for the P-8 and Triton: Aussie P-3s Operating Over the South China Sea


05/03/2016: As Air Commodore Heap, head of the Surveillance Response Group, noted in an interview with Second Line of Defense in March 2016:

“We are small but we want to be capable of being a little Tasmanian Devil that you don’t want to play with because if you come at us, were going to give you a seriously hard time that will probably not be worth the effort; deterrence in its purest form.”

And with the shift from P-3 to P-8, this will enhance their capability to play the desired role.

Obviously, the P-8 can be considered a replacement in terms of the core mission performed by the P-3, but with the evolving approach towards “integratability,” to use Air Marshal Davies’ term, Heap is focused on how the new platforms can drive further change in how the entire SRG operates and shapes the further evolution of the RAAF, and beyond that to the entire ADF.

Most recently, the P-3 participated in Exercise Bersama Shield.

A RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft has been flying over Malaysia, Singapore and the South China Sea for Exercise Bersama Shield 16 from 18-29 April.

The aircraft and its No. 10 Squadron crew, from RAAF Base Edinburgh, have been stationed at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth, Malaysia during the exercise.

The AP-3C Orion is an extremely versatile aircraft capable of land and maritime surveillance, anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare, naval fleet support and search and rescue operations.

The long-running Bersama Shield exercise series aims to enhance the interoperability between the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) founding nations – Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Established in 1971, the FPDA is the longest standing multilateral arrangement in South East Asia and focuses on the defence of Singapore and Malaysia while contributing to the general stability of the region.

 Credit Video: Australian Ministry of Defence:4/27/16