Boeing prepares to build 11 new P-8A Poseidon and sensors for maritime patrol and ocean surveillance

March 9, 2020
The P-8 is a militarized version of the Boeing 737-800 single-aisle passenger jet hardened for long-range ocean missions like surveillance and ASW.

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – The U.S Navy is preparing to buy an additional 11 P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft under terms of an $800 million advanced-acquisition order announced Friday.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking Boeing to buy long-lead components and services for lot 11 P-8A aircraft production.

Long-lead items are difficult and time-consuming to obtain; the Navy pays for these items early in the aircraft design process to keep overall production on schedule. A contract to build the 11 new planes will come later.

The P-8 is a militarized version of the Boeing 737-800 single-aisle passenger jetliner hardened for long-range ocean missions like surveillance, maritime patrol, and anti-submarine warfare. The P-8A is replacing the Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion maritime patrol turboprop aircraft. Lot 11 of the P-8As production will consist of 18 aircraft -- eight for the U.S. Navy, eight for New Zealand, and six for South Korea.

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Ultimately, the Navy plans to buy 108 P-8A aircraft from Boeing, which is building the Poseidon at its factory in Renton, Wash. The 737 fuselage and tail sections are from by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., and move to Renton where technicians will assemble the finished aircraft.

The P-8A’s flight management system and the stores management system have been developed by GE Aviation Systems in Grand Rapids, Mich. 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.

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The Raytheon 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, and eventually may use air-deployable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to handle magnetic anomaly detection.

The Navy also plans to arm the P-8A with the MK 54 torpedo, which will be fitted with kits to enable the aircraft to release them from altitudes as high as 30,000 feet. The modified torpedoes will glide through the air and enter the water safely to enable the Poseidon to attack enemy submarines from long ranges.

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The Poseidon will have the Wideband Global satellite communications (SATCOM) system, otherwise known as WGS -- a high-capacity SATCOM link that will augment and eventually replace Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) and Global Broadcast Service (GBS) satellites.

On this order Boeing will do the work in Seattle; Huntington Beach and El Segundo, Calif.; and Mesa, Ariz. For more information contact Boeing Defense, Space & Security online at, or Naval Air Systems Command at

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