Construction begins of New Zealand’s first P-8A maritime aircraft
Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems announced they have laid the keel beam for New Zealand’s first P-8A, marking a milestone as production gears up.
An aircraft keel runs the length of the fuselage belly, due to the innovative design of the P-8, its keel includes unique aspects such as the integration of an internal weapons bay.
The panel and other fuselage components will be completed on Spirit’s existing 737 production line before being shipped to Boeing’s Washington facility for final assembly.
Finally, Boeing will install mission systems, complete testing and deliver the aircraft to New Zealand later this year.
Four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will replace New Zealand’s current fleet of six ageing P-3K2 Orion aircraft in 2022-23, as announced in February of this year.
New Zealand will join the ranks as one of the eight global customers of the platform, including the US Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Indian Navy, the UK RAF and the Royal Norwegian Air Force.
According to Shephard Defence Insight, New Zealand ordered four P-8As in July 2018 after the government approved a US FMS worth $1.6 billion. These aircraft are due to be delivered in 2023.
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