Boeing Flies First P-8I Ordered by India
The first of eight P-8I maritime patrol aircraft that Boeing is building for the Indian navy made its initial flight September 28. The 737 derivative flew for two hours and 31 minutes, reaching a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet during the test flight from Renton Municipal Airport to Boeing Field in Seattle.
India is thus far the only international customer for the aircraft, a variant of the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon. Boeing has estimated an international market for the P-8 of 75 or more aircraft, and named Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Norway and Italy as potential customers. The company’s January 2009 contract with India’s Ministry of Defence, worth $2.1 billion, includes an option for four additional P-8Is. Boeing said it remains on track to deliver the first aircraft to the Indian navy in 2013.
Boeing also is developing a supply chain in India. The company said it has opened a research and technology center in Bengaluru for aero structures, materials and network systems. It also maintains an analysis and experimentation center there, in partnership with Bharat Electronics, to provide modeling, analysis capability and “defense experimentation” in support of the Indian armed forces.
Following the first P-8I flight, Boeing was to begin mission systems installation and checkout work on the aircraft. The Indian aircraft will be equipped for the antisubmarine-warfare role with a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD), which was deleted from the P-8A Poseidon to save weight. The AN/ASQ-508A MAD system, supplied by Montreal-based CAE, detects, locates and confirms subsurface targets by identifying magnetic variations in the Earth’s magnetic field.
In January Boeing received a $1.6 billion contract from the U.S. Navy to begin low-rate initial production of the Poseidon. The LRIP 1 contract is for six P-8As; the Navy’s overall requirement is for 117 aircraft. Initial operational capability of the Poseidon is scheduled for 2013.