Boeing completes first of four Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft ordered by Royal New Zealand Air Force

The first of four Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft destined for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has rolled out of the factory in Seattle.

The aircraft were ordered in 2015 at a cost of NZ$2.346 billion in total.

It features the iconic Kiwi roundel, a symbol synonymous with the RNZAF itself, as well as a large albatross on the tail.

The Boeing P-8A Poseidon will be used as maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft,  replacing the current fleet of six P-3K2 Orion aircraft which have been in operation since the 1960s.

The current Orion fleet will reach the end of their expected operational life in 2025.

"The purchase ensures the Defence Force can continue to deliver the country's maritime surveillance, resource protection, humanitarian and disaster response around New Zealand and across the South Pacific," Ron Mark said as Defence Minister at the time of the purchase.

It will also assist in search and rescue operations in New Zealand's region, which stretches from the South Pole almost to the Equator and covers 9 percent of Earth's surface.

The RNZAF says in the last seven years of search and rescue operations in Aotearoa's region, Orion maritime patrols have contributed to saving 119 lives.

The No. 5 Squadron, which currently operates the Orions, will shift from Whenuapai to Ohakea air force base to operate the P-8As.