Boeing P8-A aircraft

The US Navy has awarded a $296m initial contract to Boeing for the procurement of required parts for the production of 12 additional full-rate production (FRP) lot 2 P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft.

The aircraft will be deployed by the US Navy and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The latest contract, running through to April 2018, starts the funding for a second batch of FRP jets, including eight for the US Navy and four for the RAAF.

Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Programme Office’s (PMA 290) programme manager captain Scott Dillon said: "We are extremely excited about this contract award because it not only will continue to deliver P-8s to the US Navy, but it also will deliver the initial set of P-8s to the Australian Government.

"The future of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance community is continuing to make history with the 15 P-8As already delivered to the US Navy fleet, and now with our Australian cooperative programme partners."

In February, the US Navy awarded a $2.1bn contract for the production of the initial batch of 16 P-8A Poseidon long-range maritime aircraft, in addition to 16 ancillary mission equipment kits.

Work under the deal could be completed by April 2017, and will be executed in Cambridge, UK, in addition to Washington, Maryland, New York, Illinois, and several other locations inside and outside of the US.

"The latest contract, running through to April 2018, starts the funding for a second batch of FRP jets."

Dillon added: "The partnership allows Australians to be embedded within the programme office, and carries long-term advantages for both the US Navy and the RAAF.

"Cooperation also equips the members of the Australian team to support their own aircraft as their AP-3Cs retire."

Overall, the US Navy plans to use the 117 P-8A aircraft as a replacement for its existing ageing fleet of turbo-prop P-3 Orion aircraft.

The Boeing-led team for the production of the P-8A aircraft involves CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems and GE Aviation.

The derivative of Boeing’s 737 commercial aircraft can also be deployed to carry out long-range anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and intelligence, and surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Australian Wing Commander David Houghton said: "Through the cooperative arrangement, we are being provided insight into how our air force needs to prepare to operate and sustain the P-8A ahead of its arrival in Australia, while we also contribute to the development of new capabilities.

"There is also the obvious benefit of increased order quantities that has reduced the unit cost of the aircraft production and long-term sustainment for both countries."

Image: A US Navy’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft taking off from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, US. Photo: courtesy of the US Navy ClarkPierce / Released.

Defence Technology