Boeing and team deliver on Poseidon

  • 05-Aug-2009 04:12 EDT

During its first flight at the end of April 2009, P-8A test pilots performed airborne system checks including engine accelerations and decelerations, autopilot flight modes, and auxiliary power unit shutdowns and starts.

After completing its first fight in April, late last month Boeing and the U.S. Navy formally unveiled the P-8A Poseidon at Boeing's facility in Renton, WA. A derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800, the P-8A is a long-range antisubmarine warfare, antisurface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime, and littoral operations.

Spirit AeroSystems is building the P-8A's fuselage on its existing 737-800 production line. Also built at its facility in Wichita are the airframe tail sections and struts, which are all shipped to Renton for final assembly. Boeing says that the P-8A is its "first military derivative aircraft to incorporate structural modifications to the aircraft as it moves through the commercial line." While the aircraft has the fuselage of -800, its wings are that of a -900.

Other members of the Boeing-led team include CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and GE Aviation. The team currently is assembling and testing the first five P-8As as part of the program's System Development and Demonstration contract, awarded in 2004. Two of those aircraft have undergone first flight, powered by CFM's CFM56-7 27,300-lb-thrust engines.

As the replacement for the P-3C Orion aircraft, the Navy's requirements for the P-8A included greater payload capacity; growth potential; flexibility and interoperability; and advanced mission systems, software, and communications.

Some of those requirements were seen to by GE Aviation, which is supplying both the flight-management and stores-management systems. The flight-management system offers an integrated open architecture that is CNS/ATM (communications, navigation, and surveillance/air-traffic management) compatible and upgradable. The stores-management system allows for comprehensive, electronic control of integrated weapons management.

An upgraded AN/APY-10 maritime surveillance radar and SIGINT (signal intelligence) technologies are being provided by Raytheon, which is also offering other electronics such as its GPS Anti-Jam, Integrated Friend or Foe, and Tow Decoy Self-Protection suites. Northrop Grumman is providing the directional IR countermeasures system and the electronic support measuring system. It will also develop data links for the P-8A.

An integrated Navy/Boeing team is scheduled to begin formal flight testing later this year after the installation of additional flight-test instrumentation.

The Navy plans to purchase 117 P-8As, and initial operational capability is planned for 2013.

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