P-8A Poseidon production aircraft reaches final assembly

P-8A Poseidon production aircraft reaches final assembly
The fuselage for the first P-8A Poseidon production aircraft. The sixth test aircraft T6 is in final assembly in the background (Photo: Boeing)
The fuselage for the first P-8A Poseidon production aircraft. The sixth test aircraft T6 is in final assembly in the background (Photo: Boeing)
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The fuselage for the first P-8A Poseidon production aircraft. The sixth test aircraft T6 is in final assembly in the background (Photo: Boeing)
The fuselage for the first P-8A Poseidon production aircraft. The sixth test aircraft T6 is in final assembly in the background (Photo: Boeing)

Final assembly of the first U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon production aircraft is underway. The Boeing 737-800 derivative which will replace the P-3 Orion as an anti-submarine and long-range surveillance aircraft has been undergoing airborne testing since 2009 and delivery of the production aircraft is set to begin in 2012.

Three of a planned six flight-test planes have already in the air and the program's static plane wrapped-up testing at the beginning of this year.

Boeing is building six low-rate initial production aircraft as part of a $1.6 billion contract awarded in January. The Navy plans to purchase 117 of the aircraft to replace the P-3 Orion – an aircraft which was introduced in the 1960's.

"Boeing will deliver this first aircraft to the Navy on schedule in 2012 in preparation for initial operational capability, which is planned for 2013," said Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice president and P-8 program manager. "Our team has built seven P-8A test aircraft to date and the process improvements and efficiencies we've incorporated will continue to help reduce costs as the program moves forward."

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The Boeing 737 design is almost 45 years old. Why, in name of everything that is holy, are we using variants of 45 year-old tech as a platform for anti-submarine equipment and long-range surveillance?
I certainly hope the actual surveillance tech and anti-submarine equipment contained within these aircraft is less than 10 years old...
Isaac Linscheid
It looks to me like the 737-800 didn\'t enter service until 1998. You can find the history on wikipedia. It\'s a newer aircraft, not 45 years old.
Why must everything that is \"old\" be regarded as bad or substandard? Did you note that the new A380 has the same basic design? The swept wing design is optimal for a variety of reasons. It is an extremely stable and efficient design when you need jet propulsion, long range and capability for a substantial payload. The 737-800 entered service in 1998. In aircraft terms this is a child. It\'s all very well to wish for the latest and greatest gizmos but the reality is things of this nature cost a lot and take a lot of time. If there is a suitable solution already available the money you save can be huge. This will serve the respective governments well for a long time to come. I\'m a little saddened to see the P-3 retire. It was a brilliant aircraft in it\'s time and also provided long and reliable service.
Todd Dunning
Australian these guys don\'t realize that developing an entirely new aircraft for such a small fleet makes no sense. Agreed... proven is better than new, especially in aircraft, more than anything else.
Besides what others said, \"old\" also means \"proven.\" It\'s not like they\'re reusing old airframes. They\'re built new from the ground up. For another example, the B-52 is still flying after 56 years and still outnumbers B-1s and B-2s in the Air Force.
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The only thing that is 45 years old on the Boeing 737 is the shape of the nose. The entire airplane was redesigned in the mid 1990\'s to incorporate a new wing & tail incorporating the latest aerodynamics, the plane was given new engines and the fuselage was completely redesigned to incorporate the latest robotic manufacturing methods and the latest requirements for airframe durability. At the same time the latest in avionics was designed into this plane. This plane is designed to provide reliable economical service flying 18 hours a day 365 days a year for 30 years and over 70,000 flights before major airframe maintenance is required. This airplane has an excellent record for being reliable. This plane was designed by the same team of engineers that designed the Boeing 777 and they improved on what they did for that airplane. This is the last airplane that will ever be designed by Boeing Engineers. There are two reasons Boeing has not designed a replacement. The first is the hodgepodge of incompetent engineers Boeing subcontracted to design the 787 has not yet delivered and the 787 is way over budget and under performing and second that hodgepodge is incapable of designing a airplane better than the 737. The last thing the Navy would want is to have Boeing subcontract a \"new\" airplane. Anything designed by Boeing\'s subcontractors today would be lower performing and you wouldn\'t get it into service until 2050.
It helps to think of most military aircraft as platforms on which one periodically updates such things as communications gear, weaponry for bombers and fighters, improved engines, etc. A new aircraft would be nice if well designed, but the 737 will be adequate in this role.
Tried and trusted airframe. Until recently the UK was still developing a maritime patrol aircraft, the Nimrod MRA4 based on a 60 year old airframe design; the DeHavilland Comet. Would have performed admirably too! In comparison, this is very up to date.
unless there is an abolute need for a plane to be manned, such as a fighter plane, or plane designed to test zero g\'s in parabloc flight, or a rescue vehicle, then new planes should be unmanned,
they are cheaper in the long run, more effective, more marketable, more useful, safer for pilots, have longer range, lower weight, lower maintance requirements, less overhead for maintaining life support systems, an investment in umanned technology is PRODUCTIVE as it will be integrated in future developments....UNMANNED IS just BETTER.
I personally talked with some of the fine people who have actually flied, or will fly the P-8.
They mentioned things like, the new aircraft could go out with full payload, and sit over an area for 4 hours and return. where as the old one loaded out would not even have reached the target area and maybe returned.
Then there were things like a little heat for the guys, and some comfortable chairs of course (That is not a sarcastic comment!)
The integration of the systems allow quicker, better access and control.
Also means less of our people at risk.
It is based on an \"old\" model only because it (the 737) has a great production record, the new generation 737 has produced about 3700 sets of wings alone.
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