Norway signaled its intention to become the fourth export customer for the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. It will buy five for delivery in 2021-22 as a replacement for six Lockheed Martin P-3 Orions and three Dassault Falcon 20s, all of which were delivered in the 1990s. The cost will reportedly be $1.5 billion, including sensors and weapons. Meanwhile, Boeing delivered the first of eight P-8As to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) last month.
“The P-8A is exactly what we need to maintain our important contribution to the [NATO] alliance,” said Norwegian minister of defense Ine Eriksen Soreide. “The maritime domain is becoming more important as we speak,” she added. The country’s maritime area of responsibility is large, about seven times its land mass. The Norwegian Parliament must approve the acquisition,and is expected to do so this month.
India has received eight P-8I versions and has options for four more. According to Boeing, Australia has approved and funded four more; the first eight are costing some $3.6 billion. The UK announced “a contract” for nine P-8As at the Farnborough Air Show last July, for delivery in batches of two, four and three in 2019-20, as part of U.S. Navy production lots 8-10. However, AIN understands that only long-lead items have been procured for the British aircraft to date, with a final foreign military sale deal not likely to be signed until next year.
Selected without competition, with little British content and likely to cost $3.2 billion overall, the UK buy of P-8s was controversial. It was accompanied by an equally expensive and uncompeted UK order for Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. Boeing has therefore been stressing it plans to double its employment in the UK and expand bid opportunities for British companies on a variety of Boeing commercial, defense and space programs. In October it hosted a visit to Seattle by 37 large and small British companies that already contribute to Boeing’s supply chain. They were accompanies by British government trade officials.
Boeing also promised to make the UK its European base for defense fixed-wing and rotary aircraft training, MRO and defense exports to Europe and the Middle East. The company announced last month that David Pitchforth, the managing director of Boeing Defence UK, will lead a new global defense operations group, reporting directly to Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security.