Band Eric M. Johnson
SEATTLE, November 18 (Reuters) – Norway was preparing to take delivery of the first of five Boeing Co on Thursday TO PROHIBIT P-8 patrol plane, as NATO ally seeks to expand its submarine hunting capabilities in the strategically important Far North.
The five P-8As will replace the Royal Norwegian Air Force‘s current fleet of six Lockheed Martin Corp. LMT.N P-3 Orions and two Dassault Aviation DA-20 Jet Falcons and be operated at Evenes Air Station, inside the Arctic Circle.
“Norway is responsible for large maritime areas in a strategically important part of the world,” Mette Sørfonden, director general of the Norwegian Defense Material Agency, said in remarks prepared ahead of the delivery ceremony later Thursday in Seattle.
“Today’s delivery of our first P-8A is an important step in modernizing the capability of Norway’s maritime patrol aircraft,” said Sørfonden.
Norway will spend around 11 billion crowns ($ 1.25 billion) on its P-8 aircraft, including additional equipment and support, a Norwegian official said.
For Boeing, the delivery underscores the importance of its defense business as the U.S. aircraft manufacturer struggles to recoup billions of dollars from the overlapping coronavirus and 737 MAX security crises.
The P-8 for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance is based on Boeing’s 737-800 Next Generation commercial airliner.
Boeing plans to cut its monthly production rate of 737-based military derivatives to one aircraft per month from 1.5 from April, the company said Thursday.
Deliveries to New Zealand, Korea and Germany will take place in 2022, 2023 and 2024, Boeing said.
The four remaining P-8s for Norway were at “advanced stages of production” and will be delivered in 2022, Boeing said.
As the ice caps recede and more of the Arctic Ocean becomes more navigable, Norway and other European countries have felt the need to improve sub-hunting and other capabilities to support the mission. of NATO.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Cynthia Osterman)
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