The New Zealand government has said it has made progress in its programme to procure Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) from the US government.
New Zealand agreed to procure four P-8A aircraft in July 2018. It said at that time that the acquisition - including training systems, infrastructure, and introduction into service costs - would total NZD2.346 billion (USD1.54 billion).
In a statement on 12 June, the government indicated that the terms of the acquisition had been finalised. It said it expects the first P-8A to be delivered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) in April 2023, and the fleet of aircraft to reach final operating capability by 2025.
Infrastructure work to facilitate the new aircraft will commence in October 2019 and instructor staff training will start in February 2020. Aircrew and maintenance training will begin in early 2022, a few months before the first RNZAF P-8As start flying, said the MoD.
To support the P-8A procurement, the government also announced that it has approved investment of NZD56.8 million for its 'Operational and Regulatory Aviation Compliance' project, which is intended to ensure that its military aircraft comply with civil and military air traffic management and identification systems.
Also linked to the P-8A programme is New Zealand's 'Enhanced Maritime Awareness Capability' project, under which the government will consider small manned aircraft, unmanned systems, or satellites to undertake additional surveillance tasks within New Zealand's exclusive economic zone and wider region.
The government said the project is intended to free up the P-8As to fly more missions, in the South Pacific and further afield.
In its statement, the government said that the Ministry of Defence is now "working with more than 20 agencies to identify cost-effective recommendations for acquiring and delivering the capability" required under the Enhanced Maritime Awareness Capability project.
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