South Korea is the latest regional nation to look to upgrade its surveillance capability, seeking to buy six of the latest Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft at a cost of US$2.1 billion.
This will be a US foreign military sales (FMS) deal, with the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) saying the Republic of Korea (ROK) was one of the US’ closest allies in the Indo-Pacific.
“The proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing Korea’s naval capabilities to provide national defence and significantly contribute to coalition operations,” it said.
That follows another DSCA announcement earlier this week that Japan was seeking to buy up to nine more E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control aircraft for US$3.14 billion.
The ROK Navy currently operates an ageing fleet of 16 P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft.
Australia is also in the process of retiring AP-3C Orion aircraft as 15 Poseidons enter service.
DSCA said The ROK procured and has operated US-made P-3 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) for over 25 years, providing interoperability and critical capabilities to coalition maritime operations.
“The ROK has maintained a close MSA acquisition and sustainment relationship with the US Navy over that period,” it said.
“The proposed sale will allow the ROK to modernise and sustain its MSA capability for the next 30 years. As a long-time P-3 operator, the ROK will have no difficulty transitioning its MSA force to P-8A.”
As well as six Poseidon aircraft, the deal includes onboard mission systems, the aircraft’s AN/APY-10 radar plus a range of spares, support and training.
DSCA noted that ROK typically requests offsets, although there are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
Any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the prime contractor, Boeing.
ROK is also seeking to upgrade is missile defences with a proposed acquisition of 64 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles at an estimated cost of US$501 million.
DSCA said ROK would use the Patriot missile system to improve its missile defence capability, defend its territorial integrity and deter threats to regional stability.
ROK currently fields the older Patriot PAC-2 missiles.
Patriot PAC-3 is the latest version of the widely used US Patriot surface to air missile system, providing substantially greater range and performance against ballistic missiles.
“The proposed sale will increase the defensive capabilities of the ROK military to guard against hostile aggression and shield the allies who train and operate within South Korea's borders,” DSCA said.