BY John Keller
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md.—The U.S. Navy ordered seven P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine warfare (ASW) maritime patrol jets last month from the Boeing Co. in Seattle, as Navy leaders continue their efforts to upgrade the service’s long-range ASW and maritime patrol capability by replacing the venerable P-3 Orion turboprop with the P-8A—a Navy version of the Boeing 737 passenger jetliner.
Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., awarded a $1.38 billion contract to Boeing to procure seven P-8A multi-mission maritime aircraft (MMA) under terms of an advanced acquisition low-rate initial production II contract. Boeing should complete work by January 2013. The Navy ordered six P-8As from Boeing last January in a $1.53 billion contract.
Ultimately, the Navy plans to buy 108 P-8A aircraft from Boeing to replace the service’s fleet of 196 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, which are approaching the end of operational life. The P-3 is a version of the Lockheed Martin Electra four-engine turboprop aircraft.
The P-8A is a specially hardened and reinforced version of the Boeing 737 passenger jet, and is designed to operate at extremely low altitudes over the ocean during close-in searches for potentially hostile submarines. The P-8A is designed to withstand the rigors of low-altitude turbulence and exposure to salt spray.
|The Boeing P-8A Poseidon, a Navy version of the 737 jetliner, will replace the P-3 Orion for long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare.|
Navy officials plan to use the P-8A in tandem with the Northrop Grumman RQ-4N Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unman- ned aerial vehicle (UAV)—a maritime-patrol version of the Global Hawk long-range surveillance UAV. Plans call for using BAMS to detect potentially hostile submarines and surface ships, and upon detection, to call in the P-8A to take a closer look or to attack hostile vessels with torpedoes and missiles.
Boeing will build the Poseidon aircraft at its factory in Renton, Wash. The 737 fuselage and tail sections will be built by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., then transferred to Renton where all structural features will be incorporated in sequence during fabrication and assembly.
The P-8A’s flight management system and the stores management system have been developed by GE Aviation Systems in Grand Rapids, Mich. (formerly Smiths Aerospace). The cabin has as many as seven operator consoles.
The Poseidon’s MX-20HD digital electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) multi-spectral sensor turrets come from L-3 Communications Wescam in Burlington, Ontario. The MX-20HD is gyro-stabilized and can have as many as seven sensors, including infrared, CCDTV, image intensifier, laser rangefinder, and laser illuminator.
The aircraft has the upgraded APS-137D(V)5 maritime surveillance radar and signals intelligence (SIGINT) system from the Raytheon Co. Space and Airborne Systems (SAS) segment in McKinney, Texas. The APS-137D(V)5 radar, which is installed on the P-8’s enlarged nose fairing, provides synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for imaging stationary ships and small vessels, coastal and overland surveillance, and high-resolution imaging synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) for imaging surfaced submarines and fast surface vessels operating in coastal waters.
The P-8A will have the CAE Inc. advanced integrated magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) system. The Navy plans to arm the P-8A with the MK 54 torpedo. The Northrop Grumman Corp. Electronic Systems segment in Baltimore is supplying the electronic warfare self-protection (EWSP) suite, which includes the Terma AN/ALQ-213(V) electronic warfare management system (EWMS), directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) set, radar warning system, and BAE Systems countermeasures dispenser.
Boeing will do the work for this contract in Chicago; Greenlawn, N.Y.; Puget Sound, Wash.; Dallas; North Amityville, N.Y.; Cambridge, England; and other locations in and outside the continental U.S.
FOR MORE INFORMATION visit Boeing online at www.boeing.com.