March 15 (UPI) -- The possible sale of five P-8A Poseidon naval patrol aircraft, with software, radar systems, sensors and other surveillance abilities, to Germany has been approved by the State Department, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced.
The $1.77 billion sale of Boeing aircraft to Germany, announced on Friday, is expected to be a stopgap until the planned replacement for it's current Lockheed P-3C Orions becomes available in the 2030s.
The U.S. Congress has the final word regarding such sales, but a DSCA statement indicated that a sale would offer "no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness."
The statement noted that "Germany currently operates the Lockheed P-3C Orion [patrol pane] , but that aircraft is reaching end-of-life and will retire in 2024. Germany plans to replace it with the P-8A Poseidon."
NATO ally Germany has five P-3C planes in service, a fleet with an average age of 37.8 years.
In 2018, Germany signed an agreement with France to develop the next generation of maritime patrol planes, an Airbus project known as MAWS, or Maritime Airborne Warfare System.
The decision to retire the P-3C puts Germany and France working at different speeds to replace the plane, and the German purchase of P-8As can be seen as obtaining an expedient, short-range substitute.
The P-8A is a long-range multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft derived from the Boeing 737 commercial plane.
Equipped with surveillance equipment, it can drop sonobouys and engage in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, but its primary function is that of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Germany would likely use maritime patrol aircraft such as the P-8A to track Russian surface ships and submarines in the North Sea and notably in the Baltic Sea, where Russia has important naval bases.
The U.S. Navy has 90 P-8As in service. The militaries of India, Australia, Britain, Norway, New Zealand and South Korea also fly the aircraft.