Germany is set to replace its P-3C Orion aircraft program with the Boeing-built P-8A Poseidon maritime multi-mission aircraft (MMA) after its purchase was approved this week by the US State Department.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has approved the sale of five Poseidon aircraft, equipped with the standard sensors and systems, as well as training and sustainment support, to the government of Germany.
The deal – which has an estimated value of US$1.77 billion – also includes the provision of nine Multifunctional Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Systems 5 (MIDS JTRS 5), 12 LN-251 with Embedded Global Positioning Systems (GPS)/Inertial Navigations Systems (EGls), and other related equipment.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a NATO Ally, which is an important force for political and economic stability in Europe,” the DSCA noted in a statement.
“The proposed sale will improve Germany’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing critical capabilities to coalition maritime operations.”
The Boeing-built Poseidon P-8A aircraft are set to replace the Lockheed Martin-built P-3C Orion, which is expected to be retired in 2024.
“The proposed sale will allow Germany to modernise and sustain its maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) capability for the next 30 years,” the DSCA added.
“Germany will have no difficulty transitioning its MSA force to P-8 and absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.”
The P-8 is a powerful multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft, capable of conducting surveillance and reconnaissance tasks, as well as search and rescue and anti-submarine warfare missions.
The Boeing-built P-8 shares 86 per cent of its airframe with the 737NG, though it has better capacity for low-altitude operations than its commercial counterpart.
Further, the P-8 is far more economical to operate than Germany’s current fleet of 8 P-3C Orions, and boasts two turbofan engines, as opposed to the Orion’s four turboprops.
Germany had previously attempted to overhaul and upgrade its fleet of Orions. However, it announced in June 2020 that this program would be halted due to the excessive costs and technical difficulty involved.
Additional reporting by Charbel Kadib.