P-8A Aircraft Becomes a Focus of Trilateral U.S., U.K. and Norwegian Cooperation
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — Three nations have entered into an agreement centered on the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to strengthen the security environment of the North Atlantic Ocean.
“Today, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States signed a statement of intent to lay out guiding principles for a trilateral partnership with P-8A aircraft to address the changing security environment in the North Atlantic,” the U.S. Defense Department said in a June 29 release. “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 United States, the United Kingdom and Norway will continue to work together and with other NATO allies to improve North Atlantic security efforts.”
The three nations have a long history of maritime patrol cooperation, often tag-teaming in tracking of ships and submarines.
The U.K. Royal Air Force and the Royal Norwegian Air Force are procuring nine and five P-8As, respectively. The U.S. Navy’s program of record is 109 P-8As, although the service hopes to restore the program at 117 aircraft. The P-8 is built by Boeing.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force has flown P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft in the maritime patrol role since the 1960s and has been an important force in the tracking of Soviet and now Russian naval activity.
With the purchase of the P-8, the U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) is reinstating a maritime patrol force, one that had been shut down in 2011 with the retirement of the indigenous Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft. RAF personnel have been flying in U.S., Australian, and New Zealand maritime patrol aircraft in order to maintain skills during the gap in the RAF’s maritime patrol capabilities.