Boeing has been contracted to produce a further 18 P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft – a deal which includes more aircraft for the US Navy and the first examples for New Zealand and South Korea.
The production contract – worth US$1.5bn – was awarded on March 30, with Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) leading the contracting activity. Under Production Lot 11, the company will manufacture and deliver eight P-8As for the US Navy, six examples for the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) and four aircraft for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).
New Zealand and South Korea acquired the Poseidon through the US State Department’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process and their respective platforms will be produced to the same standard as the US Navy’s examples. The RNZAF is scheduled to receive its first aircraft in 2022 and the ROKN is expected to take its first delivery in 2023.
In a press release, Boeing said: “The P-8 is a proven long-range multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. A military derivative of the Boeing 737 Next-Generation [(737NG)] airplane, the P-8 combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the battlespace.”
Work on the aircraft will be performed at a variety of Boeing facilities across the US, comprising Seattle, Washington; Huntingdon Beach, California; Meza, Arizona; El Segundo, California; Huntsville, Alabama; and Dallas, Texas.
Boeing added that “the P-8 is [militarised] with maritime weapons, a modern open mission system architecture and commercial-like support for affordability. The aircraft is modified to include a bomb bay and pylons for weapons. It has two weapons stations on each wing and can carry 129 sonobuoys. The aircraft is also fitted with an in-flight [refuelling] system.”
According to AirForces Intelligence – as of March 31 – there are currently a total of 108 P-8As in service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and US Navy, with the former operating 12 examples and the latter having 96 in its inventory. The Royal Air Force has taken delivery of its first two (of nine) P-8A Poseidon MRA1s and the Indian Navy currently operates eight P-8I Neptunes. The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) will also operate the type, having ordered five aircraft which are currently in production.