The U.S. Navy’s new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft has entered into Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP).
Prime contractor Boeing was awarded a $1.6 billion contract from the Navy on Jan. 21 for low-rate initial production (LRIP) six P-8A aircraft, spares, logistics and training devices.
The P-8A Poseidon will replace the P-3C Orion, which for decades has served as the Navy’s long-range anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft. The P-8 will conduct ASW, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and broad-area maritime and littoral operations. This valuable addition to naval air forces will protect the sea base and enhance the Navy’s forward presence.
“Poseidon represents the centerpiece of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force. Make no mistake, P-8A is a game changer that will help ensure the United States Navy remains the preeminent maritime force in the world,” said Rear Adm. Michael W. Hewitt, Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group Maritime Patrol.
The P-8A is the first Navy combat aircraft that has been built from the ground up on a commercial production line, leveraging Boeing’s highly-successful commercial 737 airliner.
New and Improved
The Navy and industry are partnering to align current and future technologies of the P-3C
and P-8A to rapidly integrate and deploy new maritime patrol and reconnaissance capabilities.
According to the Navy, key features that will allow the P-8A to remain a versatile and relevant aircraft for many years to come include:
• Incorporating the current capabilities of the P-3 with enhanced mission systems, software and communications technology. Open architecture will allow the P-8A to upgrade its capabilities and systems.
• Carrying more than 20,000 pounds of weapons, including MK-54 torpedoes, standoff land attack missile expanded response and sonobuoys.
• Increased storage capacity of 120 sonobuoys – 50 percent greater than that of the P-3.
• Enhanced interoperability for exchange of information and a digital management system.
• Greater speed and payload capacity and more advanced radars and sensors than the P-3.
• Higher operating altitude of 41,000 feet.
• Air-to-air refueling capability, allowing for a more efficient mission performance.
The P-8 will have many of the same systems as the P-3C, with added growth potential through open architecture, extended global reach, greater payload and higher operating altitude. As submarines continue to be a significant threat, the P-8A’s ASW capability will be a critical component of the U.S. Navy’s global Maritime Strategy.
The P-8A is on track for initial operating capability in 2013.
100 years of Naval Aviation
The Poseidon follows a long list of previous fixed-wing maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, including the PBO Hudson, PBY Catalina, P2V Neptune, P-3 Orion, and the S-3 Viking.
The P-8 is among the new aircraft programs being introduced during the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CONA) celebration. An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) flew for the first time on Feb. 4. UCAS-D is an essential step in the Navy’s effort to design, develop and integrate an autonomous unmanned air system into a carrier air wing. The E/A-18G Growler is replacing the EA-6B Prowlers in the electronic attack role, and the Navy is deploying the new MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle from USS Halyburton (FFG 40), as well as moving ahead to acquire the F-35C for carriers and STOVL F-35B for the Marine Corps. The new MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter is also joining the fleet and deploying.
As of Feb. 11, the U.S. Navy has more than 3,700 aircraft in operational status. More than 200 naval aircraft, past and present, participated in the kickoff for CONA in San Diego Feb. 12.
For more information on the CONA, visit www.navy.mil/flynavy/.