MEBLOURNE, Australia – South Korea and New Zealand have moved closer to acquiring the Boeing P-8A Poseidon multi-mission aircraft for their respective maritime patrol requirements.

Reuters, quoting a senior Boeing executive and a spokesman from South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Procurement Administration or DAPA, has reported that the country will acquire the P-8A for its next maritime patrol aircraft via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.

The Reuters report quoted DAPA spokesman Kang Hwan-seok as saying that the decision was made after a comprehensive review of legal aspects, cost, schedule and performance, with the unnamed Boeing source estimating that the value of the acquisition is expected to be approximately $1.71 billion.

The Reuters report did not specify the number of aircraft South Korea will acquire, although Defense News had previously reported that South Korea was seeking six aircraft.

The decision by South Korea to sole-source the Poseidon will disappoint other aircraft manufacturers, who had hoped that the Asian country will seek to acquire its aircraft via a competitive tender process. European defense contractors Airbus and Saab had been hoping for an opportunity to market their maritime patrol aircraft offerings, the C295 Persuader and Swordfish respectively, to South Korea.

Meanwhile, New Zealand defense minister Ron Mark has accepted the country’s proposal to purchase up to four P-8As to the government’s Administration and Expenditure Review Committee earlier today, according to reports in local media.

The proposal will then go to the cabinet who will make a decision on the acquisition. The date for the proposal to go to cabinet had not been set, but the minister said he expected that to happen before the end of July.

New Zealand has already received State Department approval in April 2017 to acquire four P-8As following a $1.46 billion FMS request, however Mark had put the acquisition on hold when the new government took power late last year so he could understand the decision-making process taken by the previous government.

He has since told a government select committee hearing held earlier this year that following his review, he was confident that the recommendation to acquire the P-8A “stacks up, that it is robust, it’s justifiable.”

Both New Zealand and South Korea will use the P-8A to replace the Lockheed-Martin P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft currently operating for their air forces in the maritime patrol and anti-submarine role.

For New Zealand, operating the P-8A will also maintain synergy with neighboring Australia, who is currently in the midst of taking delivery of 15 P-8As it has on order to replace its own P-3s. Defense News understands that the New Zealanders have already held discussions with their Australian counterparts on how to maximize the advantages of both countries operating a common platform.

Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.

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