The One Plane China Fears Most (And It Can’t Fire a Shot)

    Rathna K. Muralidharan

    Security, Asia

    To effectively combat China’s encroachment over disputed waters, regional actors must be equipped with technology that provides them with maritime domain awareness.

    China was on everyone’s mind at the 2018 Singapore Airshow earlier this month. As Beijing’s military continues to encroach on its neighbors’ naval territories and claim international waters for itself, Pacific countries are looking for systems to monitor and secure their borders. One way to do so is airborne naval surveillance, which would allow states to accurately track China’s movements and defend themselves from potential threats.

    At the Airshow, Matt Carreon from Boeing stated: “there is a requirement need out here in the Asian region for P-8s.” Interest has grown in naval surveillance aircraft like Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon and similar systems such as Saab’s Swordfish Maritime Patrol Aircraft, the Kawasaki P-1, and Airbus’ C295 MPA.

    India and Australia have relied on the P-8 Poseidon to fortify their borders since it first came to market. The two countries have recently begun ramping up their inventory in response to China’s aggressive expansion. South Korea and New Zealand have been approved by the U.S. State Department to buy the P-8, and their neighbors including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam have expressed interest in acquiring maritime patrol aircraft. Systems like the P-8 Poseidon could play an integral role in securing the Pacific region from China’s overreach and against future threats.

    The P-8A Poseidon is the ideal system to track and counter hostile actions in East Asia. Based on the Boeing 737 frame, this airborne naval surveillance system conducts anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. By operating in the air, the system can be more flexible and versatile in gathering data than systems based on land or at sea.

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