Boeing plans to start assembly of the first of six low-rate initial production (LRIP) P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft by midyear, following the award of a $1.6 billion U.S. Navy contract.
The LRIP-1 contract includes spares, logistics and training devices, and comes as Boeing continues to make rapid progress with the first batch of flight and ground test aircraft under the P-8A System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract awarded in 2004.
Three of the six SDD aircraft are in flight test at NAS Patuxent River, Md., while a fourth is undergoing systems installation at Boeing Field in Seattle. The fifth aircraft arrived at Boeing Field on Jan. 22 from the 737 assembly line at nearby Renton, Wash., while the sixth aircraft, a late addition to the original SDD contract, is now in final assembly.
Boeing also completed the initial ground tests on the static airframe earlier this month and in September will transfer the aircraft to Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, Calif., for live-fire exercises. S2, the fatigue test airframe, will begin testing later this year, Boeing says.
The Navy is expected to take delivery of 117 P-8As by 2025 as replacements for the Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion, with entry into service due in 2013. Boeing also has started assembly work on the first of eight P-8Is for the Indian Navy and is in talks with the Australian Navy about an additional order.