Boeing P-8 Poseidon
|A P-8 flies over Chesapeake Bay in 2012|
|Role||Anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare|
|National origin||United States of America|
|Manufacturer||Boeing Defense, Space & Security|
|First flight||25 April 2009|
|Primary users||United States Navy
|Number built||15 as of July 2013|
|Program cost||US$33.638 billion (by FY2013)|
|Developed from||Boeing 737 Next Generation|
The Boeing P-8 Poseidon (formerly the Multimission Maritime Aircraft or MMA) is a military aircraft developed for the United States Navy (USN). The aircraft has been developed by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, modified from the 737-800ERX.
The P-8 conducts anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, along with an electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) role. This involves carrying torpedoes, depth charges, SLAM-ER missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons. It is able to drop and monitor sonobuoys. It is designed to operate in conjunction with the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle. The aircraft has also been ordered by the Indian Navy as the P-8I Neptune, with the Royal Australian Air Force expected to place an order.
- 1 Development
- 2 Design
- 3 Operational history
- 4 Variants
- 5 Operators
- 6 Specifications (P-8A)
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Lockheed P-3 Orion, a turboprop ASW aircraft, has been in service with the United States Navy since 1962. In the 1980s, the navy began studies for a P-3 replacement, the range and endurance of which was being reduced due to increasing weight and airframe fatigue life limitations. The navy specification required a new aircraft to have reduced operating and support costs. In 1989, the navy awarded Lockheed a fixed-price contract to develop the P-7, but the project was canceled the following year.
A second competition for a replacement aircraft began in 2000. Lockheed Martin submitted the Orion 21, an updated new-build version of the P-3. Boeing's proposal was based on its 737-800 airliner. BAE Systems offered a new-build version of the Nimrod MRA4, a British jet-powered maritime patrol aircraft. However, BAE withdrew from the competition in October 2002, recognizing that without a US-based production partner the bid was politically unrealistic. On 14 May 2004, Boeing was selected winner of the competition.
In June 2004, the navy awarded a development contract to Boeing. The project was planned to be for at least 108 airframes for the USN. More orders are possible from the other nations operating over 200 P-3s. Project value is expected to be worth at least $15 billion. Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Spirit AeroSystems, GE Aviation Systems, Marshall Aerospace, CFMI, BAE Systems, and Marotta are major subcontractors. In July 2004, the USN placed an order for five MMA aircraft, and the first flight-test aircraft was to be completed in 2009. On 30 March 2005, the P-8A designation was bestowed upon the aircraft.
Design phase and testing
The P-8 is to replace the P-3s. At first, it will be equipped with legacy P-3 systems, later upgrades will incorporate more advanced technology. The Government Accountability Office credited the incremental approach with keeping the project on schedule and on budget. In 2008, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) deleted the requirement for the P-8A to be equipped with magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment as part of an effort that reduced weight by 3,500 lb (1,600 kg) to improve endurance and range. A hydrocarbon sensor detects fuel vapors from diesel-powered submarines and ships.
The P-8's first flight was on 25 April 2009. The second and third P-8s had flown and were in flight testing in early August 2010. On 11 August 2010, the US approved the P-8 for low-rate production. A P-8 released sonobuoys for the first time on 15 October 2010, dropping six sonobuoys in three separate low-altitude passes. In 2011, it was found that the P-8's ice detection system was defective due to the use of counterfeit components; allegedly these computer parts were poorly refurbished and sold to subcontractor BAE Systems as new by a Chinese supplier.
The first production P-8A was handed over to the navy on 4 March 2012. It flew to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, for training with the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), Patrol Squadron 30 (VP-30). On 24 September 2012, Boeing announced a $1.9 billion order for 11 aircraft. On 10 June 2013, a DoD Inspector General (IG) report noted that the navy should delay full-rate production over a lack of key information to assess if the P-8 meets operational requirements. Additional testing was also needed to guarantee a 25-year lifespan. Boeing executives dismissed the report, saying that the test program is on track. In 2013, full-rate production was delayed until the P-8 could demonstrate it can survive its 25-year lifespan without structural fatigue, overcome mission-limited deficiencies, track surface ships, and perform primary missions.
On 24 June 2013, a P-8 successfully scored a direct hit with a live AGM-84D Block IC Harpoon anti-ship missile during weapons integration testing. On 1 July 2013, an initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) report found that the P-8A was "operationally effective, operationally suitable, and ready for fleet introduction." Six test and nine low-rate initial production aircraft had been delivered at that point. On 31 July 2013, Boeing received a $2.04 billion contract to build 13 P-8As in the fourth low-rate initial production lot, for a fleet of 37 aircraft by the end of 2016, and long-lead parts for 16 P-8As of the first full-rate production lot.
As of September 2013[update] it is intended to replace all navy P-3s with 117 P-8As by 2019, but budget cuts may delay this by two years. On 3 January 2014, the Naval Air Systems Command proceeded with full-rate production of the P-8A. Increment 1 systems include persistent anti-submarine warfare capabilities and an integrated sensor suite; in 2016, Increment 2 upgrades will add multi-static active coherent acoustics, an automated identification system, and high-altitude anti-submarine weapons. Increment 3 in 2020 shall enable "net-enabled anti-surface warfare".
Halving of USN orders from 16 aircraft per year down to 8 in 2015 due to expiration of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 are expected to be partially offset by commercial 737 sales and export sales of the P-8.
In 2010, Boeing proposed to replace the United States Air Force's Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS fleet with a modified P-8 at the same cost Northrop Grumman proposed for re-engining and upgrading the E-8s. The proposed P-8 Airborne Ground Surveillance (AGS) would integrate an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, and have ground moving target indicator (GMTI) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capabilities.
The main distinguishing feature of the P-8 AGS is a pod-mounted radar on the lower centerline of the fuselage; the pod is lowered so the engine nacelles do not interrupt the radar's line of sight. Two aft ventral fins increase aircraft stability. The P-8 AGS reuses the P-8A's Raytheon AN/APY-10 multi-mission surface search radar. In 2010, the Air Force launched an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) of the JSTARS platform. At a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting on 20 March 2012, the Air Force representative announced it did not have the resources to buy a new business jet based Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform.
|P-8 Poseidon cutway showing weapons bay|
|Cutaway of P-8 from Flightglobal.com|
The P-8 is a militarized version of the Boeing 737-800 with 737-900-based wings. The fuselage is similar to but longer than the 737-700-based C-40 Clipper transport aircraft in service with the USN. The P-8 has a strengthened fuselage and Boeing 767-400ER-style raked wingtips, instead of the blended winglets available on 737NG variants. The five operator stations (two naval flight officers plus three enlisted Aviation Warfare Operators/naval aircrewman) are mounted in a sideways row, along the port side of the cabin. None of these crew stations have windows. One observer window is located on each side of the forward cabin.
The P-8 features the Raytheon APY-10 multi-mission surface search radar. The P-8I will feature an international version of the APY-10. A short bomb bay for torpedoes and other stores opens behind the wing. The aircraft also includes six additional body fuel tanks for extended range from Marshall Aerospace; three of the tanks are located in the forward cargo compartment and three in the rear. In-flight refueling is via a receptacle on top of the forward fuselage, just aft of the cockpit. This receptacle will receive a flying boom that is typically used to refuel United States Air Force aircraft, as opposed to the hose-and-drogue system used by other USN aircraft. In order to power the additional electronics, the P-8 has a 180kVA electric generator on each engine instead of the 90kVA generator found on civilian 737s. This required a redesign of the nacelles and their mountings to the wings.
In U.S. service, the Poseidon will be complemented by around 40 Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system to provide continuous surveillance. Because of the cancellation of Lockheed Martin's Aerial Common Sensor project, Boeing will propose a signals intelligence variant of the P-8 to service the requirement for the USN.
In February 2012, the P-8 made its mission debut during "Bold Alligator" 2012, an annual littoral warfare exercise. In April 2012, the aircraft took part in Exercise Joint Warrior, flying out of RAF Lossiemouth. During RIMPAC 2012 in the Hawaiian area, two P-8As participated in 24 exercise scenarios as part of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VX-1) while forward deployed to Marine Corps Base Hawaii (former MCAS Kaneohe Bay). U.S. Navy P-8s may rotate through bases of American allies such as "...the Philippines or Thailand to help those nations with maritime domain awareness."
On 29 November 2013, the P-8's inaugural deployment began when six aircraft and 12 air crews of squadron VP-16 departed its home station of NAS Jacksonville, Florida, for Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan and forward deployment with the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The deployment was pre-planned as an enhancement of ISR and anti-submarine capabilities for the Pacific re-balance, but occurred shortly after the Chinese announcement of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, which heightened tensions in the region.
During exercises in 2012-2013 and an overseas deployment to Japan, the aircraft reportedly exhibited radar, sensor integration, and data transfer problems, leading to additional testing. In January 2014, the Pentagon's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation office called the P-8A 'ineffective' for large area ISR and anti-submarine warfare missions, and said that the initial aircraft were not ready for deployment. The same report found that the P-8 was effective at the small-area search mission, and with much better range, speed, and reliability than older aircraft. Pentagon acquisition undersecretary Frank Kendall disputed the report, saying that although its findings are factual, it did not acknowledge future capability upgrades for anti-submarine and wider-area surveillance.
A second squadron, VP-5, completed its transition to the P-8 in August 2013 with its next overseas deployment slated for mid-2014. A third squadron, VP-45, began its transition to the Poseidon in July 2013. In March 2014, the P-8 were involved in an effort to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
The Australian Minister for Defence announced on 20 July 2007 that the P-8A MMA had been selected as the preferred aircraft to replace the Royal Australian Air Force fleet of Lockheed AP-3C Orions in conjunction with a yet-to-be-selected unmanned aerial vehicle. The last RAAF AP-3C is scheduled to be retired in 2018, after nearly 30 years of service. In March 2009, Australia's Chief of Air Force stated that subject to anticipated government approval, the RAAF would begin to add the P-8 to its fleet in 2016.
In October 2012, Australia formalized its participation in the program with a commitment of A$73.9m (US$81.1m) in an agreement with the USN. Australia plans to order eight P-8 aircraft to replace the RAAF's AP-3C aircraft by 2017–18, and reach operational capability by 2019. Air Marshal Geoff Brown, head of the Royal Australian Air Force, has said Australia is considering purchasing more P-8s, and purchasing fewer MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft than originally planned. On 21 February 2014, the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, announced Australia's intention to purchase eight P-8s plus options for four more, with development work to be carried out in South Australia. Aircraft deliveries are planned to occur from 2017 to 2021.
In January 2008, Boeing proposed the P-8I, a customized export variant of the P-8A, for the Indian Navy. The P-8I variant features two major components that aren't fitted on the P-8A, a Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD). On 4 January 2009, India's Ministry of Defence signed an agreement with Boeing for the supply of eight P-8Is at a total cost of US$2.1 billion. These aircraft would replace Indian Navy's aging Tupolev Tu-142M maritime surveillance turboprops. Each aircraft has an average cost of about US$220 million. The deal makes India the first international customer of the P-8, and also marks Boeing's first military sale to India. In October 2010, India's Defence Acquisition Council of the Ministry of Defence approved the purchase of four additional P-8Is. In March 2011, it was reported that India was to order four additional P-8s from Boeing later in the year. India plans to order another 12 P-8Is at a later time.
The Data Link II communications technology was produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) for the P-8I; the system is capable of exchanging tactical data between Indian Navy aircraft, ships and shore establishments. The P-8I also features an integrated BEL-developed IFF system. India has purchased AGM-84L Harpoon Block II Missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight Torpedoes for the P-8I. In July 2012, Boeing began flight testing of the P-8I. On 19 December 2012, the first P-8I was handed over to an Indian naval team at Boeing's Seattle facility. The Indian Navy inducted its first P-8I on 15 May 2013. The second and third P-8Is were received on 16 and 22 November 2013 respectively. The aircraft are based at INS Rajali, in Tamil Nadu. In one its first operational deployment by the Indian Navy, three aircraft conducted search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, two from INS Utkrosh, and one later deployed to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The fourth aircraft was delivered in May 2014.
Foreign involvement and potential exports
The U.S. Department of Defense wants to follow a program template for the P-8 similar to that of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, with international cooperation from prospective MMA users. Boeing publicly identified New Zealand as a potential customer. Italy indicated interest in purchasing MMA aircraft, with fleet support provided by Alitalia in 2004. However, in December 2008, Italy announced the purchase of four ATR 72 turboprop aircraft to replace its aging Atlantic Maritime Patrol Aircraft, possibly as a temporary solution because Italy remained interested in the P-8.
The Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported in March 2014 that the Norwegian Navy is looking at the possibility to lease the aircraft directly from Boeing. The Navy currently has six P-3 Orions, but is having increasing difficulty keeping them operational.
- P-8A Poseidon – Production variant for the United States Navy
- P-8I Neptune – Export variant for the Indian Navy.
- P-8 AGS – An Airborne Ground Surveillance variant proposed to the United States Air Force in 2010 as an alternate to upgrades to the Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS fleet. Its design adds a pod-mounted, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar on the bottom of the fuselage.
- The Indian Navy has eight P-8I aircraft on order; deliveries began in December 2012, with four delivered by May 2014.
- The United States Navy plans to acquire 122 aircraft. The 13th P-8 was delivered on 4 December 2013.
- Crew: Flight: two; Mission: seven
- Length: 129 ft 5 in (39.47 m)
- Wingspan: 123 ft 6 in (37.64 m)
- Height: 42 ft 1 in (12.83 m)
- Empty weight: 138,300 lb (62,730 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 189,200 lb (85,820 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × CFM56-7B turbofan, 27,000 lbf (120 kN) each
- Maximum speed: 490 knots (907 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 440 kn (815 km/h)
- Range: 1,200 nmi (2,222 km) ; 4 hours on station (for anti-submarine warfare mission)
- Service ceiling: 41,000 ft (12,496 m)
- 5 internal and 6 external stations for AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, AGM-84 Harpoon, Mark 54 torpedo, missiles, mines, torpedoes, bombs, and a High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon system
- Raytheon APY-10 multi-mission surface search radar
- (Advanced Airborne Sensor surface search radar and SIGINT package to be follow on system)
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