The P-8A Poseidon, Boeing's next-generation military derivative of the 737-800, is ready for introduction into the U.S. Navy fleet, according to a report issued by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) last week.
(A P-8A Poseidon conducts a weapons test with the Harpoon. Photo, courtesy of U.S. Navy.)
According to NAVAIR, the report confirmed the P-8A Poseidon as being "operationally effective, operationally suitable, and ready for fleet introduction" following an extensive testing period of the aircraft that began in 2010.
The anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare aircraft is the replacement for the Navy's aging fleet of Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion four-engine turboprops. NAVAIR plans on using the Poseidons on anti-submarine missions alongside the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that completed its first flight in May.
With the P-8A program passing the Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) milestone, NAVAIR said the aircraft is on track to enter into service beginning in the winter.
“It is a great day for the Navy and the fleet. We are proud to add the P-8 to the Navy’s weapons inventory and the deployment cycle later this year," said Capt. Scott Dillon, Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290) program manager.
Boeing has delivered nine P-8A Poseidons to NAVAIR as of May, part of three low rate initial production (LRIP) contracts issued in 2011 and 2012 totaling $5.2 billion. As required by engineering change proposals to the P-8 baseline program, upgrades to the aircraft will include an automatic identification system transponder and receiver, Multi-static Active Coherent (MAC) wide-area acoustic search system and high-altitude ASW weapon capability between 2014 and 2016.
The Navy plans on purchasing 117 total P-8As.