US Navy Poseidon passes evaluation milestone
The US Navy’s new P-8A Poseidon Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) has passed its Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E).
The maritime surveillance aircraft was found ‘operationally effective, operationally suitable, and ready for introduction’, it emerged, following a statement released by the US Naval Air Systems Command at Naval Air Station Patuxent River on 1 July.
Boeing’s P-8A patrol and reconnaissance aircraft is the navy’s replacement for the P-3 Orion. As a result of the successful IOT&E the P-8A programme is on track for the first operational deployment at the end of 2013. The first P-8A squadron will be deployed with the P-3 and EP-3 squadrons.
‘It is a great day for the navy and the fleet. We are proud to add the P-8 to the navy’s weapons inventory and the deployment cycle later this year,’ Capt Scott Dillon, Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290) programme manager, said in the statement.
This milestone was achieved shortly after the P-8A successfully launched a Harpoon AGM-84D Block IC missile during a live fire event on 24 June. The test saw a direct hit on a Low Cost Modular Target after approximately six minutes of flight time during testing in California at the US Navy’s Point Mugu Sea Test Range. The test validated the weapons hardware and software integration.
The Harpoon weapon system has been operational with the navy for more than 40 years and the completion of the test launch from the P-8A was a significant milestone in the programme.
‘The success of this testing evolution brings us one step closer to Initial Operational Capability [IOC] this fall,’ Dillon said at the time of the harpoon testing.
Boeing is contracted to build and support 24 P-8A MMA in total as part of three low-rate initial production (LRIP) contracts awarded in 2011 and 2012. On 29 March Boeing officially handed over the seventh production P-8A, the first delivery from the second LRIP contract that was awarded to the company in November 2011. The US Navy plans to purchase a total of 117 P-8As. The final P-8A from the first LRIP was delivered in February 2013. The first production P-8A Poseidon made its initial flight on 7 July 2011 and was officially delivered to the US Navy 4 March 2012.
Alongside US commitments, Boeing delivered the first of eight P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft to India in May 2013, an aircraft designed to replace the Indian Navy’s Tupolev Tu-142M under a contract signed in 2009. The P-8I is a customised export version of the P-8A and has unique design features to meet the Indian requirement, such as an Indian-built subsystem.
The MMA is based on the design of the next-generation Boeing 737-800 platform and is able to support naval maritime patrol mission requirements. It is designed for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare missions that require long range maritime reconnaissance capabilities.
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