Germany has apparently rejected France’s offer to temporarily acquire 4 Dassault Breguet Atlantique 2 aircraft and is expected to purchase up to 5 Boeing P-8A Poseidon instead. This new acquisition could jeopardize the joint development of a new maritime patrol aircraft by the two European countries.
In 2018, Germany and France jointly agreed on a program to develop a new naval patrol aircraft, the Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS). Deutsche Marine is due to replace its 8 Lockheed P-3C Orion aircraft, built in the 1980s, while the 22 The Dassault Breguet Atlantique 2 of the French Navy also need to be replaced.
In June 2020, Germany announced that due to excessive maintenance costs, its Lockheed P-3C is expected to be retired by 2025, ahead of the original 2035 schedule.
But with the MAWS program due to materialize no earlier than 2030, Deutsche Marine risked a capacity gap. Thus, it was announced that Germany would find a temporary solution. A tender was launched, involving the Airbus C-295 MPA, Kawasaki P-1 and Boeing P-8A Poseidon. The Japanese P-1 was ruled out for fear of not being ready on time, and the C-295 MPA was deemed to underperform compared to the P-3C.
The Poseidon looked likely to win the competition, and on March 12, 2021, the US Agency for Defense Cooperation and Security (DSCA) authorized the sale of five aircraft equipped with the standard sensors and systems, as well as support. training and sustaining. “The proposed sale will allow Germany to modernize and maintain its maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) capability over the next 30 years,” the announcement said.
Probably worried to see its partner abandon the MAWS program, France made a counter-offer in April 2021: it would provide 4 Atlantique 2 brought back to the current standard (6), equipped with latest generation equipment.
However, the offer does not seem to have convinced the German authorities. During a parliamentary hearing, Thomas Silberhorn of the German Defense Ministry explained that if the ATL2’s systems were overhauled, the airframe and engines could be barely newer than the P-3C Orion.
“The condition of the cells of the ATL2s offered to Germany has not been clarified,” said Silberhorn. “The number and expected state of readiness of the proposed aircraft is unlikely to be able to cover the demands of potential future operational engagements as well as the needs for crew regeneration and the conduct of training and reconnaissance flights. “
It now seems likely that Germany will go ahead with the acquisition of the Boeing P-8 Poseidon. The future of the MAWS program, however, remains uncertain.