According to the notice published by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the Government has requested to buy five (5) P-8A Patrol Aircraft; nine (9) Multifunctional Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Systems 5 (MIDS JTRS 5); and twelve (12) LN-251 with Embedded Global Positioning Systems (GPS)/Inertial Navigations Systems (EGls). Also included are commercial engines; Tactical Open Mission Software (TOMS); Electro-Optical (EO) and Infrared MX-20HD; AN/ AAQ-2(V) I Acoustic System; AN/APY-10 radar; ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measures; NexGen Missile Warning Sensors; AN/PRC-117G Manpack radios include MPE-S type II with SAASM 3.7; Global Positioning Systems (GPS) 524D Precise Positioning System (PPS) for APY-10 Radar; AN/ALQ-213 Electronic Counter Measures; AN/ALE-47 Counter Measures Dispensing Systems; AN/UPX IFF Interrogators; APX-123A(C) IFF Digital Transponders; KIV-78 IFF Mode 5 Cryptographic Appliques; CCM-701A Cryptographic Core Modules; KY-100M, KY-58, KYV-5 for HF-121C radios; AN/PYQ-10 V3 Simple Key Loaders (SKL) with KOV-21 Cryptographic Appliques; aircraft spares; spare engine; support equipment; operational support systems; training; training devices; maintenance trainer/classrooms; publications; software; engineering technical assistance (ETA); logistics technical assistance (LTA); Country Liaison Officer (CLO) support; Contractor Engineering Technical Services (CETS); repair and return (RoR); transportation; aircraft ferry; and other associated training and support; and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated program cost is $1.77 billion.
The notice adds: The proposed sale will improve Germany’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing critical capabilities to coalition maritime operations. Germany currently operates the Lockheed P-3C Orion, but that aircraft is reaching end-of-life and will retire in 2024. Germany plans to replace it with the P-8A Poseidon. The proposed sale will allow Germany to modernize and sustain its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) capability for the next 30 years. Germany will have no difficulty transitioning its MSA force to P-8 and absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.
Stop Gap solution to German Navy P-3C Orion early retirement ?
For the record, the German Federal Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced in June 2020 that it was ending the modernization plan of the P-3C ORION maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) ahead of schedule. The MoD cited “costs and technical difficulties” as the reasons that lead to the decision which will result in a “capability gap” which “cannot be accepted”. The Bundeswehr said at the time that it was conducting a market survey taking into account all platforms available on the market. The German MoD statement at the time also added that “this analysis will also evaluate all interactions with the Franco-German cooperation project Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS)”
Question remains however on whether the German MoD has the necessary funding to procure new P-8A MPAs… and whether this will truly be a temporary stop-gap solution or an alternative to MAWS.
During the ILA airshow, which took place from 25 to 29 April 2018 in Berlin, French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly and her German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen signed a letter of intent to jointly develop the next generation of maritime patrol aircraft with possible opening to other partners from Europe or NATO.
The project, known as MAWS (Maritime Airborne Warfare System), aims to ensure, from 2030 onwards, the succession of the French Navy’s Atlantique 2 and the German Navy’s P-3C Orion. Unveiled at Euronaval 2018, Airbus’ A320M3A in its MPA variant appeared to be a natural candidate for the MAWS program.
As Naval News noted at the time, Germany’s decision to retire the P-3C early puts it out of sync with France to pursue a common successor via a joint project. Modernized ATL2 are currently being delivered to the French Navy and their replacement won’t be needed until the mid-2030ies.
Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon is not the only platform being considered. The Bundeswehr last year started exploring new acquisitions to replace all current P-3C MPAs set to be retired by 2025 (instead of 2035 initially). The stop-gap platforms being considered are:
- the C295 Persuader from Airbus
- the RAS-72 Sea Eagle from RAS
- the P-8A Poseidon from Boeing.
About P-8A Poseidon MPA
The P-8A is a long-range multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. A military derivative of the Boeing Commercial Next-Generation 737 airplane, the P-8A combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the battle space.
The P-8A is militarized with maritime weapons, a modern open mission system architecture, and commercial-like support for affordability. The aircraft has been modified to include a bomb bay and pylons for weapons – two weapons stations on each wing – and can carry 129 sonobuoys. The aircraft is also fitted with an in-flight refueling system. With more than 180,000 flight hours to date, P-8 variants, the P-8A Poseidon and the P-8I, patrol the globe performing anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; humanitarian; and search and rescue missions.
The United Kingdom is one of six international customers for the P-8A Poseidon. The first British Poseidon MRA Mk1 was delivered in 2019. As a direct commercial sale, India has received nine of the P-8I Neptune variant to date with 3 more in production and an additional 10 to be ordered. The U.S. Navy is on contract to receive 111 with the potential for additional quantities based on the fleet’s needs. As a cooperative partner with the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Program Office, Australia began receiving their P-8A aircraft in 2016 with the final one delivered in December 2019; Norway will begin receiving their five P-8As in 2022; both New Zealand and South Korea have signed agreements with the U.S. Navy to purchase four and six aircraft respectively.