SingaporeAs the last of the AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft has been finally withdrawn from the service of the Australian Air Force on December 12, 2023, after 50 years of service, the baton has been passed on to the next-generation P-8A Poseidon aircraft fleet. This transition underscores Australia’s attempt to counter emerging threats in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in response to the growing presence of Chinese submarines in the region. As P-8A is a potent platform for anti-submarine operations, it will enable Australia to effectively deter any undersea threats from hostile submarines, says GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest “Fleet Size Dashboard” reveals that, after the retirement of AP-3C platforms, the average age of the entire Australian fleet of military fixed-wing aircraft fell below 30 years. Out of which, 60% of the fleet has an average age of below 10 years, highlighting Australia’s efforts to keep its fleet relatively modern and formidable.

The dashboard also reveals that the P-8A is the third youngest platform in the Australian fleet, with an impressive average age of 5.5 years, following the F-35A and EA-18G aircraft. This indicates that P-8As have several decades of service life left for monitoring and safeguarding the Australian coastline before being retired.

Sai Kiran, an analyst at GlobalData, comments: “To bolster its maritime capabilities and address evolving geopolitical challenges, Australia has transitioned to a fleet of 14 P-8A aircraft, a program involving a procurement expenditure of about $3.8 billion. 12 of these P-8A aircraft have already been inducted into active service between 2016 and 2019, while two are yet to be delivered.”

Australia Fleet Size.png

Although China and Australia have taken steps in recent months to normalize their ties, there are several alleged violations of the maritime borders of Australia’s allies in the South China Sea and Indo-Pacific region by China.

Kiran concludes: “The escalation of China’s military footprint in this region, coupled with its recent deployment of sophisticated naval assets, including submarines and naval vessels, triggered Australia to strengthen its anti-submarine and maritime warfare capabilities. Furthermore, Australian P-8As will also be able to support the country’s major ally, the US, in terms of tracking and destroying enemy naval assets during future potential conflicts in the region involving the US and China.”


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  1. With a little research, the last two AP-3C orions that were operated by the RAAF were not operated in the traditional maritime role, but had a ISREW/Signals Intelligence role. They are to be replaced by the MC-55A Peregrine.

    (Even Wikipedia has this correct)

  2. Well, what can I say?

    That was a very very poorly researched and written article.

    The last two aircraft to retire were in fact AP-3C(EW), they operated in the EWISR role, the last of the maritime patrol/ASW AP-3Cs were retired back in 2018, over five years ago!

    The ‘standard’ AP-3C were replaced by P-8A years ago, the last two AP-3C(EW) will be replaced by the yet to be delivered MC-55A.

    Better research, ok???

      • Well that was a bit of a smug reply Kym, why?

        APDR gets called out for a poorly written and researched article, and that’s your reply?

        If you wrote the article, I would have expected better, if someone else wrote the article, I would have expected you to have checked it before publishing.

        Anyway, clearly I wasted my time.

        • It’s a standard re-post of material from a research institute as was clear from the text of the article – and no I don’t vet every word that is beamed out by third parties such as this one. As I say, if it really troubles you so much please contact the organisation of origin: Global Data.

      • In other words, the person researching the article had no clue and you don’t care its inaccurate, typical media

          • Is this what APDR has cascaded down to?, just “Copy and Paste”, all care no responsibility and hope for the best?. I am sorry but it doesnt exude confidence, other than the media “Rubber Stamping” what it is spoon fed.

          • You don’t understand how the media works – or at least the online part of it. When information comes from a reliable source it gets re-posted. No one has the resources to check the dozens of media releases that come in every day. When something arrives from a government department, politician, company, or think tank it goes online. I can only repeat that if you have a problem with what has come out of a government department, politician, company or think tank – complain to them, not me for providing the vehicle to put the information online. What you say makes as much sense as complaining to a newsagent that you found a mistake in a newspaper that you had bought.


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