Will Germany’s acquisition of Boeing P-8A jeopardize collaboration with France?
Boeing reported that the German Defense Ministry signed a letter of acceptance for the acquisition of five P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft on June 30, 2021.
The Bundestag, the German Parliament, confirmed a budget of €1.43 billion for the purchase from Boeing which aims at replacing 8 Deutsche Marine Lockheed P-3C Orion aircraft, constructed in the 1980s, by 2035.
With this order, Germany becomes the eighth customer to acquire this multi-mission maritime surveillance aircraft after the United States, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, Norway, South Korea, and New Zealand.
The contract might come as a blow to the Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS), another program conjointly agreed on with France in 2016. Indeed, the 22 Dassault Breguet Atlantique 2 of the Marine Nationale are also in need of replacement. The joint solution is set to materialize by 2030.
The discussions between the United States and Germany took place without warning France, the French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly told La Tribune. In fact, French authorities only learned the news when the US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) cleared the sale of the five Poseidon in March 2021.
Worried to see its partner abandon the MAWS program, France made a counteroffer in April 2021. It would provide 4 Atlantique 2 brought to the current standard (6), fitted with the latest generation equipment. But the offer did convince the German authorities.
Despite describing the acquisition as a "temporary solution" by the German government, the DSCA stated that “the proposed sale will allow Germany to modernize and sustain its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) capability for the next 30 years.” If that timeline proves to be true, the MAWS would definitely be in jeopardy. The French Ministry of Armed Forces said a decision is expected in the coming weeks.
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