July 9, 2018 / 3:29 AM / 4 months ago

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

WELLINGTON, July 9 (Reuters) - New Zealand said on Monday it had agreed to buy four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft through the United States government.

Defence Minister Ron Mark said the aircraft, intended to replace the country's ageing 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)

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