The US Navy's P-8A Poseidon maritime multi-mission aircraft has been declared ready for fleet introduction, a US Naval Air Systems Command's (NAVAIR) initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) report revealed.
The report confirmed the P-8A Poseidon aircraft is operationally effective and operationally suitable, following completion of extensive testing period.
Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290) programme manager captain Scott Dillon said the P-8 aircraft was expected to enter the US Navy's full operational deployment cycle later this year.
Recently, P-8A Poseidon test aircraft has test-fired a Harpoon AGM-84D Block IC missile at the US Navy's Point Mugu Sea Test Range, California, and validated its weapons hardware and software integration, marking a step closer to IOT&E programme.
During testing, the aircraft launched an over-the-horizon all-weather anti-ship missile from station ten on the first hot run, which was confirmed later by onsite explosive ordnance disposal personnel; it also successfully destroyed a low-cost modular target.
"This flight test, along with past tests, demonstrates the P-8's operational effectiveness and overall mission capabilities," Dillon said.
Boeing-built P-8A Poseidon aircraft will replace the ageing P-3C Orion aircraft for the US Navy and will support missions such as long-range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The aircraft has been designed based on a Boeing 737 airframe and features AN/APY-10 maritime surveillance radar and signal intelligence SIGINT system, enhancing the US Navy's forward presence to protect the sea base.
In addition to six test aircraft to the US NAVAIR, nine low-rate initial production aircraft have been delivered to the US Navy by the company, while the US Navy is planning to procure 117 P-8A aircraft.
Image: A Harpoon missile launched from P-8A aircraft hits its target. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.