The United States, the United Kingdom and Norway on last Thursday signed a statement of intent on a trilateral partnership with P-8A Posiedon maritime surveillance aircraft to fortify the security environment in the North Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. Defense Department said.

The statement explains guiding principles for the P-8A partnership to address the area’s changing security environment.

Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft. Photo. U.S. Navy
Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft. Photo. U.S. Navy

“As the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway continue to work to advance trilateral maritime security cooperation, this agreement establishes a framework for further cooperation in areas such as readiness, enhancing defense capability, and interoperability,” the statement said.

In March, Boeing [BA] won a $2.2 billion contract to build 17 P-8As for the U.S. Navy, Australian air force, and British air force. The U.K. is set to get its first ever two Poseidons delivered in 2019 (Defense Daily, April 3). That contract contains options for 32 more aircraft and long-lead parts for future orders.

Norway requested $1.8 billion for up to five P-8As and associated equipment late last year. Norway plans to use the P-8As to modernize and sustain its Maritime Patrol Aircraft capability after it retires its six Lockheed Martin [LMT] P-3C Orions and three DA-20 Falcons (Defense Daily, Nov. 28, 2016). Norway logged the foreign military sales (FMS) request in December. It has operated P-3s for over forty years and has maintained a close acquisition and sustainment relationship with the U.S. Navy (Defense Daily, Dec. 22, 2016).

Last year Britain requested a $3.2 billion FMS for up to nine P-8As and associated equipment and services (Defense Daily, March 29, 2016). The U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) has not had a maritime patrol force since 2011 when the Nimrod was retired. Since then, RAF personnel have maintained training by flying U.S., Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand aircraft.

The DoD announcement added that the three countries will continue to work together and with other NATO allies to improve security efforts in the North Atlantic more generally.

The Poseidon is based on Boeing’s 737-800 commercial airplanes and provides anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The U.S. Navy alone has amassed over 96,000 flight hours since it began flight operations for the P-8A in 2013.

As of February, the Navy had an inventory of 50 P-8As with a projected future inventory of 109 and projected full operational capabilities date of 2023. The administration requested seven Poseidons in fiscal year 2017 while in the unfunded priorities list it asked for six more (Defense Daily, June 2). The Senate Armed Services Committee markup of its version of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act  calls for $2.3 billion to procure the 13 Poseidons, which includes the six from the FY ’17 unfunded priorities list.