South Korea cleared to buy six P-8A maritime patrol aircraft under $2.1b contract

The US State Department has approved the potential sale of six P-8A patrol aircraft to the Republic of Korea under an estimated $2.1 billion contract.

South Korea’s decision to pick Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon as its new maritime patrol aircraft was made known in June this year. The P-8A would replace the fleet of P-3C Orion MPAs which entered service in the 1990s.

In addition to the six aircraft, the $2.1b figure includes multifunctional information distribution system joint tactical radio systems for each aircraft and tactical operations centers (TOC).

Also included are GPS/Inertial Navigations Systems (EGIs), AN/AAR-54 missile warning sensors, commercial engines, tactical open mission software (TOMS), electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IO) MX-20HD, the AN/AAQ-2(V)1 acoustic system, AN/APY-10 radar, ALQ-240 electronic support measures, AN/ALE-47 countermeasures dispensing system, in addition to support equipment and training and operations assistance.

Should the deal be finalized, the Republic of Korea will become the seventh nation to operate the Boeing-built P-8A Poseidon, joining the US, Australia, the UK, Norway and India. New Zealand is the most recent P-8A customer, having announced a NZD2.346 billion contract for the acquisition of four aircraft in July this year.

Boeing’s aircraft was selected over those proposed by Airbus and Saab who had also shown interest in the South Korean MPA contract.

The P-8A is a derivative of a modified Boeing 737-800ERX airliner, featuring a high-bypass turbo fan jet engine with a fully connected, open architecture mission system. The armament of the Poseidon consists of five internal and six external stations for AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, AGM-84 Harpoon, Mark 54 torpedo, and a High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon system among others.

Development of the P-8A program was started in June 2004 when the US Navy selected the Boeing multimission maritime aircraft, 737 MMA, as the best successor to the P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft

Photo: US Navy file photo of a P-8A Poseidon MPA