The first P-8I aircraft for the Indian Navy completed its initial flight yesterday, taking off from Renton Field at 12:02 p.m. Pacific time and landing two hours and 31 minutes later at Boeing Field in Seattle.
During the flight, Boeing test pilots performed airborne systems checks including engine accelerations and decelerations and autopilot flight modes, and took the P-8I to a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet prior to landing. In the coming weeks Boeing will begin mission systems installation and checkout work on the aircraft at a company facility near Boeing Field.
“The P-8I program is progressing well and we are looking forward to this potent platform joining the Indian Navy as part of its fleet,” said Rear Adm. DM Sudan, assistant chief of Naval Staff (Air), Indian Navy.
“The P-8I will provide India with the necessary speed and reliability to satisfy the Indian Navy’s maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare requirements,” said Dinesh Keskar, Boeing India president.
Based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, the P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy. In order to efficiently design and build P-8 aircraft, the Boeing-led team is using a first-in-industry, in-line production process that draws on the company’s Next-Generation 737 production system.
The P-8A is based on the stretched 737-800 with 737-900-based wings. It also includes six additional fuel tanks for extended range. The aircraft’s main role will be anti-submarine warfare and shipping interdiction, as well as electronic intelligence (ELINT). As a result, it will carry torpedoes, depth charges, AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles and other weapons, as well as sonobuoys.
Boeing expects to sell around 200 P-8As to foreign countries and has so far received one firm order, from India. In January 2009 the Indian Ministry of Defence signed an agreement with Boeing for eight P-8Is at a cost of SU$2.1 billion to replace the Indian Navy’s Tupolev Tu-142M maritime surveillance aircraft. An option for four additional P-8I aircraft was included in the original contract. Indian P-8s will feature a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD), which was deleted off the American aircraft to save weight.
“Flying the first P-8 for an international customer is a key milestone for our entire team,” said Leland Wight, Boeing P-8I program manager. “We have transitioned to P-8I production, and remain on track to deliver the first aircraft to the Indian Navy in 2013.”
The aircraft features open system architecture, advanced sensor and display technologies, and a worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support equipment.
The P-8I is built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.