New Zealand in $1.6-billion deal to buy four Boeing P-8 aircraft

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand said on Monday it had agreed to buy four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft through the United States government.

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft takes part in the Malta International Airshow at SmartCity Malta outside Kalkara, Malta, September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

Defence Minister Ron Mark said the aircraft, intended to replace the country’s aging Orion fleet, would cost NZ$2.34 billion ($1.60 billion), including training costs, and would start operations in 2023.

“This decision strengthens the coalition government’s Pacific reset by providing a maritime patrol capability with the significant range and endurance needed to assist our partners in the region,” Mark said in an emailed statement.

He was referring to the government’s plans to step up its engagement in the Pacific, where it is responsible for patrolling a vast ocean zone.

($1=1.4622 New Zealand dollars)

Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Clarence Fernandez