New Zealand government approved procurements of four P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft worth USD 2.346 billion for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, according to a report released to the official website of the New Zealand Government on 9 July.
“The four aircraft will replace the aging six P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft that have been operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force since the 1960s. The current Orion fleet will reach the end of their expected operational life in 2025,” said in the report.
A potential deal will cover the new aircraft, training systems, infrastructure and introduction into service costs will total $2.346 billion. They will be delivered and begin operations from 2023.
At to date, the Airborne Surveillance and Response Force (ASRF) is provided by No 5 Squadron RNZAF that is equipped with a total of six P-3K2 Orion aircraft. The current Orion fleet will reach the end of their expected operational life in 2025.
New Zealand’s Defence Minister Ron Mark said that 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.
“The purchase enables New Zealand to continue to deploy in a wide range of airborne maritime situations independently, and when required, work effectively with partners including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which all operate, or will operate, the aircraft,” noted Ron Mark.
According to the Boeing, the newest P-8 Poseidon is an aircraft designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It is capable of broad-area maritime and littoral operations. It is also effective at humanitarian and search and rescue missions. A derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800, the P-8 combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the future battle space.
The purchase comes just weeks after close neighbor Australia announced plans to invest $5.2 billion to develop and buy high-tech U.S. drones for joint military operations and to monitor waters, including the South China Sea.