The US State Department has approved the possible sale of four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to New Zealand.

The deal is estimated at $1.46 billion, says the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) in a statement. It follows a request from New Zealand about the Poseidon.

Wellington has been in the market for a new MPA aircraft to replace its six Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion aircraft.

Other vendors interested in the deal include Kawasaki with its four-engined P-1 and Saab, which would see its Swordfish MPA system integrated with a Bombardier Global 6000 business aircraft.

A major requirement for New Zealand is range, with the aircraft required to loiter for seven hours 1,000nm from base.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that New Zealand neighbour Australia has four P-8As, with orders for an additional eight examples.