Germany’s collaboration with France on future maritime patrol initiatives has “not come to an end”, the head of its naval aviation branch insists, despite Berlin recently increasing its commitment for Boeing P-8A Poseidon submarine-hunting aircraft.

On 22 November, Germany’s BAAINBw federal procurement agency said it had signed a €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) contract with the US Navy for an additional three P-8As, taking to eight its total commitment for the US-built type.


Source: BAAINBw

First P-8A for Germany is due to be delivered in 2024

At the start of the decade it was still collaborating with France on a project called MAWS – or maritime airborne warfare system – which envisaged the development of a common patrol aircraft to replace Germany’s Lockheed P-3 Orion and France’s Breguet ATL2 fleets from 2035.

Germany’s commitment to MAWS was thrown into doubt by its selection of the 737NG-based P-8A in 2021 and the latest order seems to add further question marks over the co-operation.

But speaking at an event in Donauworth near Munich on 30 November, Captain Broder Nielsen, the commander of German naval aviation, said Berlin was still committed to the initiative, although he hinted at a broader scope than previously disclosed.

“From our perspective we are still a part of MAWS,” he says, noting that the project comprises three parts: a manned aircraft, an uncrewed air vehicle (UAV) and a combat cloud.

“From the German perspective it did not come to an end. We still have our project office in Paris.

“In future, we maybe will come together on the same MALE [medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV] or a common cloud solution,” he says.

Deliveries of the P-8s are due to begin next year, with aircraft from the latest agreement to be built in 2026 and 2027.

France, in the meantime, has begun studying its own successor to the ATL2. In December 2022, it awarded 18-month contracts, each worth €10.9 million, to Airbus and Dassault Aviation to conduct early stage development work for a future maritime patrol aircraft based on their respective A320neo and Falcon 10X platforms.

Elsewhere, Germany is still awaiting approval from the USA for the transfer of its now retired P-3s to Portugal.

Although Lisbon has previously taken former Dutch navy P-3s, a separate permission is required for the six German aircraft due to the mission system on board. Nielsen expects clearance will be forthcoming “in the next month”.

Portugal agreed to acquire the P-3s from Berlin in August for a total of €45 million.