Boeing has been awarded a US$1.5 billion ($2.46 billion) production contract from U.S. Navy to build new P-8A Poseidon multi-mission aircraft that includes some of those ordered by foreign customers.

The 18 aircraft in the production contract are for eight aircraft for the U.S. Navy, six aircraft for the Republic of Korea Navy and four aircraft for the Royal New Zealand Air Force. This contract will be for the entire complement of both export customers’ P-8 orders.

The Republic of Korea Navy and Royal New Zealand Air Force acquired the aircraft through the Foreign Military Sales process and will receive the same P-8A Poseidon variant designed and produced for the U.S. Navy. The Royal New Zealand Air Force is expected to begin receiving aircraft in 2022 and the Republic of Korea Navy is expected to begin receiving aircraft in 2023.

The P-8 is a long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. A militarized version of the commercial 737 Next Generation airliner, the P-8A is fitted with sonobuoy launchers as well as wing hardpoints and an internal weapons bay that can launch anti-ship missiles and lightweight torpedoes for anti-submarine warfare.

The U.S. Navy has a program of record for 117 P-8As, and the type has been favoured by U.S. allies to replace the ageing P-3C Orion or similar platforms, with Australia, India, and the United Kingdom also operating the type. In addition, Norway has also signed up to buy the aircraft

There is also a proposal to expand the P-8A’s mission set with the integration of cruise missiles, bombs and sea mines in the future, in essence turning it into a possible land attack platform.

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