The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified Congress of the potential foreign military sale of P-8A patrol aircraft to the UK.
Under the estimated $3.2bn sale, the UK has requested nine P-8A patrol aircraft, along with associated defence equipment, training and support.
Boeing has been selected as the prime contractor for the sale. Additional contractors include ViaSat, GC Micro, Rockwell Collins, Spirit Aero, Raytheon, Telephonics, Pole Zero, Northrop Grumman Corp, Exelis, Terma, Symmetrics, Arnprior Aerospace, General Electric, and Martin Baker.
Approved by the State Department, the potential sale is expected to re-establish the UK’s maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) capability, which was divested following the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) programme.
The UK is said to have retained skills related to maritime patrol and reconnaissance following the retirement of the Nimrod aircraft through personnel exchange programmes (PEPs).
With the UK bearing a close alliance with the US on critical foreign policy and defence issues, the sale is also expected to improve US foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing the UK’s capabilities to contribute to Nato and coalition operations.
The P-8A patrol aircraft is equipped with the upgraded APS-137D (V) 5 maritime surveillance radar and signal intelligence SIGINT system developed by Raytheon.
The aircraft is also fitted with MK 54 torpedos, which can be fired from high-altitude and can be instrumental in long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Image: A P-8A aircraft dropping a torpedo. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo from the Patrol Squadron 16 (VP-16).