RAAF Poseidon Deployed to Butterworth

A RAAF P-8A flying over RMAF Butterworth. Australian Defence Department

SHAH ALAM: A RAAF Boeing P-8A Poseidon MPA has deployed to RMAF Butterworth, marking the type’s first overseas. The deployment was part of Operation Gateway, which provides maritime surveillance patrols in the North Indian Ocean and South China Sea, says the Australian Defense Department on June 7.

The department did not revealed when the Poseidon was deployed to RMAF Butterworth but its likely it was in the first week of June.The Poseidon was deployed to Malaysia in support of the Operational Test and Evaluation of the P-8A as it is introduced to service. This deployment was a key milestone on the path to declaring Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the aircraft and its system over the next 12 months, says the department.

RAAF P-8A landing at RMAF Butterworth during her deployment for Operation Gateway. Australian Defense Department.

The Poseidon’s predecessor, the AP‑3C Orion, has operated from RMAF Butterworth for a number of decades as part of the bilateral Malaysian and Australian Operation Gateway, says the department.
A rear end of the RAAF AP-3PC Orion aircraft at LIMA 17. This aircraft is likely the one which deployed to Butterworth AB as part of Operation Gateway and also FPDA exercises.

Operation Gateway is a key element in the bilateral defence relationship between Australia and Malaysia. The state of the art Poseidon is refining its ability to take over this surveillance role in 2018, says the department.

RAAF P-8A at RMAF Butterworth.

Commander of Surveillance and Response Group, Air Commodore Craig Heap said the successful first overseas deployment of the Poseidon was a significant step towards realising the full capability of the P-8A in an Australian context.

Missions flown by the aircraft included patrols in the Northern Indian Ocean and South China Sea aimed at testing and refining how the P-8A will be operated in those environments. Each mission utilised the Poseidon’s advanced sensor suite and data connectivity.

The Royal Australian Air Force’s first P-8A Poseidon, A47-001 fly in formation with a current AP-3C Orion over their home Base of RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia. RAAF

During each mission the aircraft conducted routine maritime surveillance on merchant and naval shipping along some of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

RMAF officers being briefed on the P-8A capabilities and missions. Australian Defenese Department.

“With this overseas deployment complete, the next step from June through to July will be the completion of the operational evaluation of the Poseidons’s Search and Rescue capability. This will be another important step as we move toward declaring Initial Operational Capability of the P-8A system,” Air Commodore Heap said.

News Analysis
It is interesting to note that without the release above we would have not known that a P-8A was deployed to Butterwrorth. RMAF also as usual did not say anything about the deployment though several officers were taken on a tour of the aircraft (as shown by the picture provided by the Australian Defense Department, above).

It was not revealed how much intelligence are shared with Malaysia for this operations though a number of reports suggested that Australia started the operation following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. RAAF AP-3Cs reportedly deployed to RMAF Butterworth between four and eight times a year where they conduct regular flights for fortnight.

As the RAAF also regularly deployed to the RMAF Butterworth in support of FPDA exercises, it will be difficult to determine these deployments are for those missions or Operation Gateway. As you are aware, the Australian Army also maintained Rifle Company Butterworth to maintain security for its aircraft and personnel on deployment there.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2200 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Mmm.. when would be the article’s title “RMAF poseidon deployed to butterworh”?

  2. So Alex, what’s the actual spelling for ‘Butterworth’?

    I mistakenly mistyped Butterworth in the header in an early version. Since it did not effect the story I just fixed it.

  3. Are the Poseidons sold to Australia full specs version or export version ?

    Likely very close to the US Navy version.

  4. Following the withdrawal of its Mirahe 111s the RAAF announced that F-18s and P-3s would still deploy to Butterworth on 16 week deployments. Although its common knowledge that P-3s [and now
    P-8s] deploy there regularly; I’m not sure if F-18s still do apart from those participating in FPDA exercises and those on transit to the Middle East.

    On the RAAF P-3s, they venture out to the South China Sea and the Melaka Straits, up to the Andaman Sea, and it’s interesting to speculate whether any data/info obtained is shared with us via HQIADS or directly to MINDEF.


    Interestingly, India’s P-8s have an extra radar compared to the USN’s. Given that Australia is a non NATO ally and a strategic partner within the Western [blue eyed] alliance; I guess very little in terms of systems, would have been denied to Australia.

    From news reports, the Indian P-8As differs from the U.S Navy ones with its communications suites, mostly Indian sourced.

  5. What will really – in addition to its ESM, ISR suite – mark the P-8 apart from other MPAs will be its ability to detect submerged subs and launch a torp from high altitude. I won’t go as far as calling it a ”game changer” [a cliche people are fond of using] but this will mark a different way of going about ASW.

    There are some who have a desire to see P-8s in RMAF colours but not only is it cost prohibitive but also superfluous for our needs; too large. Given how overstretched the RMAF is I wouldn’t be surprised if we do indeed get ex Jap P-3s but the reality is that we’ll spend the minimum to keep them running until a new MPA can be funded. Things like new wing or a full radar, ESM ,etc upgrade is extremely unlikely. I would rather see the P-3s going to the MMEA but the MMEA just doesn’t have the needed manpower at the moment.

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