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March 11, 2012

Boeing Delivers First 737-Based P-8A Poseidon to US Navy

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The first production Boeing P-8A Poseidon LRIP1-1 takes off from Boeing Field for Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

Boeing last week delivered the first of 117 P-8A Poseidon jets to the US Navy. Based on Boeing’s popular 737 airliner, the P-8A is a long-range, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft meant to replace the Navy’s aging fleet of Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft.

Nearly eight years after winning a competition to build the new plane and nearly three years after delivering the first test aircraft, last Sunday the first production P-8A, LRIP1-1, left Boeing Field in Seattle for Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., where the Navy will begin training future P-8 crews.

The P-8A is built using a production method novel to military adaptations of Boeing civilian aircraft. Rather than build a conventional 737 and then take it apart to install the military hardware, the P-8A is Boeing’s first civilian-based military plane to have its unique military structural modifications installed right on the commercial production line.

Like traditional Boeing 737 aircraft, the P-8A is powered by CFM56-7 engines and uses a fuselage Spirit AeroSystems. Unlike the airliner version, the 737-800 fuselage is fitted with the stronger wings found on the 737-900, and raked wing-tips rather than blended winglets. Other features you won’t find on your United 737 include directional infrared countermeasures and electronic support measures systems by Northrop Grumman, and an upgraded version of the Raytheon AN/APY-10 maritime surveillance radar.

The first P-8A is expected to enter service in 2013. A total of 13 are currently on firm order as part of a Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract, with deals for the remaining 104 planned jets to be inked in the future.

The Indian Navy ordered eight copies of the P-8 in 2009, designated the P-8I, worth $2.1 billion.

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