The State Department has given its approval to a potential $1.46 billion sale of four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft to New Zealand, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency announcement.
The deal, pending Congressional approval, would provide four of the aircraft developed for the U.S. Navy and derived from Boeing’s 737 commercial airliner and a variety of sensors.
“The Government of New Zealand intends to use these defense articles and services to continue its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) capability, following retirement of its P-3K maritime patrol aircraft,” read last week’s notification.
“The sale will strengthen collective defense and enhance New Zealand’s regional and global allied contributions. New Zealand has procured and operated U.S. produced P-3 MSA for over 40 years, providing critical capabilities to NATO and coalition maritime operations.”
The sale would include Electro-Optical (EO) and Infrared (IR) MX-20HD, AN/AAQ-2(V)1 Acoustic System, AN/APY-10 Radar, ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measures for the aircraft as well as support, maintenance and training equipment.
A New Zealand Defence Forces spokesman told the news site Stuff.co.nz, that Wellington was considering options to replace its six aircraft Lockheed Martin P-3K fleet and that the notification was not a binding contract.
“Besides the P-8A Poseidon, the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) is also known to be considering the Kawasaki P-1 and Saab Swordfish platforms,” according to a report in Jane’s Defence Weekly.
A formal request r the replacement is set to be issued next year for an early 2020s delivery.
In addition to the U.S., India and Australia operate variants of the P-8s. The U.K. and Norway have completed contracts to purchase the aircraft.