Norway plans to buy five Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to help monitor its extensive territorial waters amid a growing Russian submarine presence.
Norwegian Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said in a statement that the five P-8s will replace the nation’s current six P-3 Orion and three DA-20 Jet Falcon surveillance planes.
“P-8A Poseidon is a formidable platform for monitoring our oceans, and will provide both Norwegian and allied civil and military authorities with a sound basis for decisions,” according to an English translation of the Norwegian press release.
“To continue an MPA (maritime patrol aircraft) and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capability that can meet current and future challenges, the Government has submitted a proposal for acquiring five P-8A Poseidon for the Armed Forces. Beside the actual aircraft, the contract also includes modern sensors, surveillance systems, new anti submarine weapons and support systems.”
Norwegian Ministry of Defence spokesman Lars Gjemble told USNI News that the acquisition would need final approval from the Parliament, which is expected to vote in favor of the purchase in December. The press release notes that the P-8 acquisition falls in line with a Parliament-supported long-term defense plan.
Once lawmakers approve the sale and a contract is formalized, the planes would deliver around 2021 or 2022, according to the statement. The planes, plus additional intelligence equipment, would cost around 9.8 billion Crowns ($1.15 billion).
Norway’s long coastline includes the North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea, with territorial waters being about seven times larger than the actual land area of the country, according to the statement. Though the Norwegian statement does not mention Russia specifically, former commander of U.S. 6th Fleet Vice Adm. James Foggo III wrote in Proceedings earlier this year that Russia had conducted “extensive and frequent submarine patrols throughout the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea” as a part of a strategy to threaten nearly all of NATO’s maritime forces.
The Norwegian Defence Ministry statement also notes the planes would be used for search and rescue and “maritime counter-terrorist operations.”