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The P-8 is a long-range multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. (Picture source: US Navy Photography by Liz Wolter)

The US State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale of five Boeing P-8A maritime patrol aircraft to Germany for an estimated cost of $1.77 billion.

The US Congress was notified today of the possible sale, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency says on 12 March.

In addition to five P-8A aircraft, Berlin requested tactical open mission software, Wescam electro-optical and infrared MX-20HD sensors, Raytheon AN/APY-10 maritime, littoral and overland surveillance radar, Deagel ALQ-240 electronic support measures and BAE Systems AN/ALE-47 counter measures dispensing systems, among other subsystems, support equipment, maintenance equipment, training devices and spare parts.

“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,” says the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. “Germany plans to replace it with the P-8A Poseidon. The proposed sale will allow Germany to modernise and sustain its maritime surveillance aircraft capability for the next 30 years.”

Germany has eight P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft in service, with an average age 37.8 years, according to Cirium fleets analyser.

The $1.77 billion estimated price is not finalised as Germany has yet to officially select the aircraft and issue a contract. The estimated amount is typically higher than the final agreed upon price as most countries don’t select every available option within a sales package.

In addition to NATO missions, maritime patrol aircraft such as P-8A would likely be used by Germany in tracking Russian surface ships and submarines in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Russia has important naval bases on the Baltic Sea, including installations in its Kaliningrad enclave and in St. Petersburg.

Boeing P-8 customers include the Indian Navy, Royal Australia Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Royal Norwegian Air Force, South Korean Navy, UK Royal Air Force and US Navy.