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New RAAF Poseidon touches down

AAP logoAAP 15/11/2016 Max Blenkin, Defence Correspondent

The first of 15 of the RAAF's new Poseidon aircraft will be shown off in Canberra on Wednesday.

The Poseidon is a grey albatross of an aircraft designed to spot lost yachtsmen or asylum seeker boats or to detect and sink enemy submarines.

Based on the widely used Boeing 737, they will replace the RAAF's 19 Orion maritime patrol aircraft in a project worth more than $5 billion.

The Poseidons, which will be based at RAAF Edinburgh, will eventually operate in conjunction with Triton unmanned surveillance aircraft, keeping watch over Australia's 14 million square kilometres of ocean surrounds.

RAAF Orions, based on the 1960s Lockheed Electra airliner, have served Australia well.

With upgrades to radar and surveillance equipment, they are probably the most capable aircraft of all the Orions operated by more than a dozen nations.

But they're getting old, with the first delivered in 1984.

The US, which operates a larger fleet of even older Orions, was also looking for a replacement. In 2007, Australia joined the US Navy program to develop Poseidon.

The new aircraft can fly faster, higher and further and with aerial refuelling can stay in the air for up to 20 hours.

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