FARNBOROUGH, England — The United Kingdom has officially confirmed a plan to purchase nine P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft, worth around 3 billion pounds, while also announcing a $2.3 billion deal to secure 50 AH-64E Apache helicopters.
Both sales come via Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreements with the US government, and both products come from Boeing – a notable way to kick off the Farnborough International Airshow, where the company is celebrating its centennial.
The P-8 sale has been long expected, following a 2015 defense review that concluded the UK needs to replace its maritime surveillance capability. Those planes are now expected to come online in the 2019-2020 timeframe, according to a government statement.
"Our new MPA aircraft will provide significant protection of the UK's nuclear deterrent and our £6 billion aircraft carriers," said defence secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement. "They are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that will rise each year of this decade. That means more ships, more aircraft, more troops available at readiness, better equipment for special forces, more being spent on cyber – to deal with the increased threats to our country."
The Apache deal comes with local support, according to the MoD release, which boasts that "companies in Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Bedfordshire, Cheshire and Gwent being awarded subcontracts by Boeing that collectively represent around 5% of the global Apache supply chain."
Support and sustainment contracts, which will be finalized by the end of the decade, should supply another 350 jobs to the UK, the government said.
Leonardo Helicopters in the UK will continue to maintain the current fleet of Apaches until 2023-2024, with Fallon saying long-term he would like Leonardo and other UK companies to "do most of the work" on the fleet.
Boeing spokesman John Morrocco noted Boeing's history with the UK and said the company was "proud to continue that partnership with the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft."
This story will be updated with more information following a briefing by the UK government.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.