Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saudi Royal Navy interested in six P-8s

Ivan Gale

Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in buying six P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing worth a reported US$1.3 billion (Dh4.8bn), the US aerospace firm says.The plans for the P-8, which releases sonar buoys to identify submarines and destroys them by dropping torpedoes, are part of a wider naval modernisation programme reportedly worth as much as $20bn.

“They took the steps to say to the US Navy that they are interested,” Ray Figueras, the director of strategic development for the P-8 Poseidon at Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS), said of the Saudi Royal Navy. “We’ve been told there is a need for six.”

The kingdom has asked the US Defense Security Co-operation Agency to assist it to procure new ships and maritime assets such as the P-8, which is also armed with anti-ship missiles.Saudi Arabia is leading a charge by Gulf states to modernise their defences following a five–year spike in oil prices and continuing regional tension over Iran’s nuclear programme. The kingdom’s defence spending totalled $36bn by the end of last year, according to the consulting firm Frost and Sullivan.

Details of the naval overhaul were announced last December when US defence officials said Saudi Arabia wanted to buy the P-8 along with the H-60R Seahawk multimission helicopter built by Sikorsky Aircraft, unmanned Fire Scout helicopters built by Northrop Grumman, and smaller combat ships either from Lockheed Martin or General Dynamics. Neither the Saudis nor Boeing had said how many P-8 aeroplanes might be part of the sale.

The aircraft are said to cost $220 million each and come with advanced radar and sensing equipment from Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.“We’re trying to help the Saudis with their naval expansion programme,” the US Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa told Reuters in December. The US helped Saudi Arabia upgrade its fleet 30 years ago and those ships were now “mature” and needed to be replaced, he said.

The P–8 Poseidon is a new maritime patrol aircraft derived from the Boeing 737 passenger aeroplane, one of several military variants the company is developing as part of efforts to use its commercial aircraft to create new defence platforms. The aircraft also uses sensors to identify fuel vapours from diesel submarines and other ships.

The US Navy intends to buy 117 of the aircraft as it replaces its older P-3 Orion maritime patrol planes, with entry into service around 2014. Boeing is also promoting the aircraft internationally to boost sales. Its first overseas deal came last year when the Indian Navy said it would buy eight P-8 aircraft in an agreement worth a reported $2.1bn. First deliveries are expected in 2014.


Hey..Where did you get that marking approved drawing of the P-8 Poseidon from..I would like a full size copy.

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