Daehan Lee story with additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur
The first P-8 is expected to arrive in 2022. The name of Poseidon MPAs in ROK Navy service could be tentatively dubbed as P-8K, but a final decision on this is still to be made, Naval News has learned.
Boeing told that South Korea will be able to maintain the P-8s locally, like Boeing 737 aircrafts. Both Korean Air and Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) were responsible for the maintenance of P-3 Orion aircrafts, but another competition will select the companies in charge of the P-8 maintenance.
As the ROK Navy currently uses 6 P-3Cs and P-3CK since 2010 and the Navy might have to consider purchasing new P-8 Poseidons to replace them in 2030, a person at Boeing booth cautiously showed hope that the Korean Navy could possibly purchase more P-8s, confirming that South Korea is preparing for the request to replace 8 P-3C aircrafts by the 2030s.
Regarding the configuration of the potential “P-8K” aircraft, Boeing said it is impossible to exactly know functional differences between the original U.S. Poseidons and Korean Poseidons. Especially about what kinds of systems would be added or removed and what kind of South Korean equipment would be added. Boeing flatly told Naval News that there is technical sensitivity that should be discussed by higher levels, since the P-8 export is a part of FMS (foreign military sales), meaning that it is the agenda to be agreed between governments and navies.
The Indian Navy so far is the only P-8 customer to fly a “customized” version of the aircraft, known as the P-8I Neptune. The P-8I features specific equipments for the Indian Navy not fitted on the P-8A. These include a Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD).
According to a document from the U.S. Defense Cooperation Agency, it is expected that the ROK Navy purchased P-8s without electronic warfare devices such as AN/ALQ-218 RWR/ESM/ELINT system, AN/ALQ-213(V) EWMS, hydrocarbon detection system, and AN/AQQ-24 DIRCM.
About the P-8A 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.
Germany is the latest nation to have acquired the P-8, joining the United States, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, Norway, Korea and New Zealand. 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; both New Zealand and South Korea have signed agreements with the U.S. Navy to purchase four and six aircraft respectively. Norway’s first Poseidon took flight this Summer.