Boeing to build 17 P-8A surveillance and reconnaissance planes in $2.2 billion order

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – The U.S. Navy is ordering 17 P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance and surveillance military planes from the Boeing Co., as well as long-lead items for another 10 Poseidon aircraft, under terms of a $2.2 billion U.S. Navy order announced last Thursday.

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PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – The U.S. Navy is ordering 17 P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance and surveillancemilitary planes from the Boeing Co., as well as long-lead items for another 10 Poseidon aircraft, under terms of a $2.2 billion U.S. Navy order announced last Thursday.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking the Boeing Defense, Space & Security segment in Seattle to build 17 Lot 8 full-rate production P-8A aircraft.

Of these new maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft, 11 will be for the Navy, and six will be for allied countries under foreign military sales and cooperative agreement partner deals, Navy officials say. The contract modification also includes long-lead parts for ten Lot 9 P-8A aircraft -- seven for the Navy and three for allied countries.

The P-8 is a militarized version of the Boeing 737 single-aisle jetliner hardened for long-range surveillance, maritime patrol, and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions.

Thursday's order also includes mitigating unknown component and subsystem obsolescence issues, as well as class I change assessment, obsolescence monitoring, and integrated baseline and program management reviews, Navy officials say.

Related: Is the Navy's P-8A Poseidon evolving into a multi-sensor strategic reconnaissance plane?

The P-8A is designed to operate at extremely low altitudes over the ocean during close-in searches for potentially hostile submarines. The P-8A, which is designed to withstand the rigors of low-altitude turbulence and exposure to salt spray, is scheduled to replace the Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion maritime patrol turboprop aircraft.

Navy officials plan to use the P-8A in tandem with the Northrop Grumman RQ-4N Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) -- a maritime-patrol version of the Global Hawk long-range surveillance UAV. Plans call for using BAMS to detect potentially hostile submarines and surface ships, and upon detection, to call in the P-8A to take a closer look or to attack hostile vessels with torpedoes and missiles.

Ultimately, the Navy plans to buy 108 P-8A aircraft from Boeing, which is building the Poseidon at its factory in Renton, Wash. The 737 fuselage and tail sections will be built by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., then transferred to Renton where all structural features are incorporated in sequence during fabrication and assembly.

The P-8A’s flight management system and the stores management system have been developed by GE Aviation Systems in Grand Rapids, Mich. The cabin has as many as seven operator consoles.

The Poseidon’s MX-20HD digital electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) multi-spectral sensor turrets come from L-3 Communications Wescam in Burlington, Ontario. The MX-20HD is gyro-stabilized and can have as many as seven sensors, including infrared, CCDTV, image intensifier, laser rangefinder, and laser illuminator.

Related: Boeing prepares to build first four P-8A maritime patrol jets for U.K. Royal Air Force

The aircraft has the upgraded APS-137D(V)5 maritime surveillance radar and signals intelligence (SIGINT) system from the Raytheon Co. Space and Airborne Systems (SAS) segment in McKinney, Texas.

The Raytheon APS-137D(V)5 radar, which is installed on the P-8’s enlarged nose fairing, provides synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for imaging stationary ships and small vessels, coastal and overland surveillance, and high-resolution imaging synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) for imaging surfaced submarines and fast surface vessels operating in coastal waters.

The P-8A will have the CAE Inc. advanced integrated magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) system, and eventually may use air-deployable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to handle magnetic anomaly detection. The Navy plans to arm the P-8A with the MK 54 torpedo.

On this contract Boeing will do the work in Seattle; Baltimore; Greenlawn, N.Y.; Cambridge, England; North Amityville, N.Y.; Rockford, Ill.; Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.; Salt Lake City; and other U.S. locations, and should be finished by December 2020.

For more information contact Boeing online at www.boeing.com, or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil.

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