Royal New Zealand Air Force
NZ to buy Boeing P-8 aircraft in $1.6-B deal to boost monitoring of Pacific
Published July 9, 2018 1:06pm
WELLINGTON — New Zealand has agreed to buy four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft through the United States' foreign military sales program, its defense minister said on Monday.
New Zealand, which is responsible for patrols and rescue missions in a vast Pacific Ocean zone, bigger than Europe, plans to step up its engagement there, in part to counter the rise of new powers such as China.
Defense Minister Ron Mark said the aircraft, intended to replace New Zealand's ageing Orion fleet, would cost NZ$2.34 billion ($1.6 billion), including training costs, and would start operations in 2023.
"This decision strengthens the coalition government's Pacific reset by providing a maritime patrol capability with the significant range and endurance needed to assist our partners in the region," Mark said in a statement.
In an email, Boeing said, "We are honored that New Zealand has selected the P-8 as its new maritime patrol aircraft," adding that it would work with the country to help meet its defense and security needs.
Mark signaled the door could be open for more purchases of maritime surveillance technology in a review of capacity due by the end of the year.
"The complementary capability will consider smaller manned aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft systems or satellites, for additional maritime surveillance tasks," he said.
Last month, South Korea's defense procurement agency said it had decided to buy the P-8 Poseidon as it looks to strengthen anti-submarine capabilities against the threat posed by neighbor North Korea's submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Boeing says 85 P-8 aircraft now operate worldwide. —Reuters
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