The US State Department has approved Germany’s potential purchase of the Boeing-built P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft as the country is looking at options for replacing its P-3C Orion fleet.
In an announcement on March 12, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Germany had requested a total of five airframes and associated support for an estimated $1.77 billion.
Germany’s request to purchase the Poseidon comes after the country’s defense ministry decided last year to walk away from an elaborate upgrade of the Orion fleet that would have allowed the maritime patrol aircraft to fly well into the 2030s.
According to current plans, the Orion will be phased out in 2024 or 2025 as it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate and maintain. Earlier this year, Germany was left with no maritime patrol capability as the last operational P-3C at the time broke down.
The potential purchase of the Poseidon MPA would be an interim solution as Germany and France have already started work on the Maritime Airborne Weapons System (MAWS) project that will develop a new maritime patrol solution. MAWS would replace German P-3Cs and French Atlantique 2, or ATL2 aircraft that were built in the 1980s. The two countries hope to be able to build first aircraft under the program by 2035 with the help of Airbus and Dassault Aviation.
In addition to the Poseidon as the potential interim solution, reports say Germany could look into purchasing the “Persuader” MPA variant of the Airbus C-295 or the ATR-72.
The purchase of a new MPA capability could present a problem for the French-German MAWS program. As noted by DSCA, the Poseidon would provide the country with a maritime patrol capability for the next 30 years and could lead Germany to back out of the program. It should be noted, however, that a request for the purchase of an interim successor has been submitted to the German government, but is yet to be approved and receive funding.