The United Kingdom is poised to place an order for P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft made by Boeing Co., according to a news report.
The British government is expected this summer to sign a more than $3 billion contract for nine of the submarine hunters, according to an article published Tuesday on the British military television channel Forces TV.
Watch for the deal to possibly be inked at either the Royal International Air Tattoo or Farnborough International Air Show in July.
The agreement has long been in the works. The U.S. Defense Department earlier this year notified Congress of the proposal -- and company officials hinted at ongoing discussions in recent years.
Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, also has contracts to supply as many as two dozen of the planes to other international customers including Australia and India.
The company’s biggest customer for the aircraft remains the U.S. Navy, which plans to purchase a total of 114 of the twin-engine jets at an estimated cost of $32.4 billion to replace its aging fleet of P-3C Orions, a four-engine turboprop made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and introduced in the 1960s.
Military.com took a tour of the P-8A last year at the Paris Air Show during which a naval flight officer said what sets the plane apart are its sensors, radios and sonobuoy launcher, as well as work stations that allow crew members onboard to hunt targets ranging from submarines and surface warfare ships.
The aircraft carries an inverse synthetic aperture radar and its sensor suite includes an active multi-static and passive acoustic sensor system, an electro-optical/infrared sensor and a digital magnetic anomaly detector. It also has four wing pylons and two centerline pylons to carry weapons, including MK 54 torpedoes and AGM-84D Block 1C Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
The Pentagon’s independent testing office recently concluded that while the sensor system “provides an effective capability in some environments and scenarios, it fails to deliver the full capability described by the Navy P-8A ASW concept of operations and MAC operational requirement documents.”