Boeing has won a deal to supply four P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to South Korea, and is poised to win a deal in New Zealand to supply the 737-based platform.
On 25 June, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration said that Seoul would obtain the type under a $1.7 billion deal under the Foreign Military Sales process. No numbers were given.
Media reports from New Zealand, meanwhile, suggest that Wellington plans to obtain up to four P-8As to replace its Lockheed Martin P-3K Orions.
The South Korean opportunity was a major theme of 2017’s Seoul ADEX event. Boeing promoted the P-8A for the requirement, while Saab discussed its Swordfish MPA, based on the Bombardier Global 6000 business jet.
Airbus Defence & Space had also promoted its C295 MPA to Seoul with a visit in mid-2017.
A source at ADEX told FlightGlobal that Seoul’s decision to look at large, highly capable MPAs reflects a growing concern not just about North Korea’s submarine fleet, but with the increasing sophistication of Beijing’s subsurface capabilities.
Seoul had previously considered 12 former US Navy S-3 Vikings for the MPA mission but decided to look at bigger aircraft. There were also concerns that the S-3, which is no longer operated by the US navy, would be difficult to sustain.
At the Seoul show, executives also said that South Korea is interested in a rapid search and rescue (SAR) capability. This is a priority following the sinking of a ferry in 2014 that claimed 304 lives, most of them children.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that the Republic of Korea Navy has 16 in-service P-3s, all of which have gone through an upgrade programme. The average age of these aircraft is 37.4 years, with an age range of 22.4 to 52.5 years.
As for New Zealand, in May 2017 the US State Department approved a $1.46 billion deal for the sale of four P-8As. Other vendors interested in the deal include Kawasaki with its four-engined P-1 and the Saab Swordfish.
A major requirement for New Zealand is range, with the aircraft required to loiter for seven hours 1,000nm from base.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force operates six P-3Ks with an average age of 48.6 years, and an age range of 33.2-51.9 years.