Maritime surveillance and patrol is becoming more and more important, but the USA’s P-3 Orion turboprop fleet is falling apart. The P-7 Long Range Air ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) Capable Aircraft program to create an improved P-3 began in 1988, but cost overruns, slow progress, and interest in opening the competition to commercial designs led to the P-7’s cancellation for default in 1990. The successor MMA program was begun in March 2000, and Boeing beat Lockheed’s “Orion 21” with a P-8 design based on their ubiquitous 737 passenger jet. US Navy squadrons finally began taking P-8A Poseidon deliveries in 2012, but the long delays haven’t done their existing P-3 fleet any favors.
Filling the P-3 Orion’s shoes is no easy task. What missions will the new P-8A Poseidon face? What do we know about the platform, the project team, and ongoing developments? Will the P-3’s wide global adoption give its successor a comparable level of export opportunities? Australia and India have already signed on, but has the larger market shifted in the interim?
The Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft program to replace the P-3 fleet began in earnest in 2000, and the 737-based P-8A was rolled out in July 2009. The US Navy has ordered 53 of 109 planned aircraft as of February 2014, and received 13.
Initial Operational Capability was declared in November 2013, but P-8A Increment 1 aircraft have a number of problems. Overall, the new plane remains roughly equal to its P-3 predecessor in most surveillance tasks, but it has a much smaller array of weapons, and has experienced ongoing integration and reliability problems. The biggest issues include surface radar scan stability and quality issues, cueing and auto-tracking shortfalls in the electro-optical system, and too many crashes in the mission software controlling everything.
The Navy is trying to fix these and other problems, while developing Increment 2 upgrades. Meanwhile, the P-3 fleet is aging out from under them. P-8A Increment 2 is slated to field in 2016, improving wide-area search and weapon capability. Increment 3, to be fielded around 2019, will improve sensor capabilities and mission system electronics.
India was the plane’s 1st export customer, with an initial order for 8 P-8i variants. They’ve received their 1st aircraft, and plan to increase their order to 12 soon. In February 2014, Australia committed to 8 P-8As plus an option for 4 more, but that contract hasn’t been signed yet.
The P-8 will use the same 737 airframe as the U.S. Navy’s C-40 Clipper naval cargo aircraft, the E-737 Wedgetail AWACS aircraft on order by Australia, Turkey, and South Korea; and the U.S. Air Force’s T-43 Navigation trainer. The base model is Boeing’s 737-800 ERX, with “raked” wingtips that improve performance for low-level flight.
That airframe must accomplish a wide range of tasks. It will search for and destroy submarines, monitor sea traffic, launch missile attacks on naval or land targets as required, act as a flying communications relay for friendly forces, and possibly provide and electronic signal intercepts. Like its predecessor, its radar capabilities will make it well suited for land-surveillance missions, when the Navy decides to use it that way.
A plane with that many capabilities will play a role in a number of emerging military doctrines. It will be a key component in the U.S. Navy’s Sea Power 21 doctrine’s Sea Shield concept, by providing an anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-smuggling platform that can sweep the area, launch sensors or weapons as needed, and remain aloft for many hours. The P-8A MMA will also play a key role in the U.S. Navy’s FORCEnet architecture, via development of the Common Undersea Picture (CUP). As a secondary role, it will support portions of Sea Power 21’s Sea Strike doctrine with its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
Unrefueled range is published as “over 4,000” nautical miles/ around 7,500 km. A more strenuous flight profile would involve 4 hours on station conducting low-level anti-submarine missions, at a range of more than 1,200 nautical miles/ 2,200 km. A dorsal receptacle allows in-flight refueling if necessary.
The P-8A has 11 weapon hard points: 5 in the rotary weapon bay, 4 under the wings, and 2 under the fuselage. Weapon load can exceed 10t/ 22,000 pounds, and all hard points have digital weapon interfaces.
Given that P-3C Orions have been modified to carry sea-skimming attack missiles like the Harpoon, land attack missiles like the Maverick, and even AIM-9 Sidewinder air-air missiles, it seems reasonable to assume that the Poseidon MMA will be at least as capable. Reaching that plateau would involve carrying sonobuoys, torpedoes, depth charges, Harpoon anti-shipping missiles, SLAM or AGM-65 Maverick land attack missiles, and either AIM-9 Sidewinders or NCADE-derived AIM-120 AMRAAMs. Some Boeing illustrations even show them with JDAM or JSOW GPS-guided weapons attached to underbody hardpoints.
The P-8A’s initially-certified armament will be much more modest, however: Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes, depth charges, and some free-fall bombs, plus a built-in triple launcher and accompanying storage for up to 120 sonobuoys – or devices compatible with a sonobuoy launcher, such as Piasecki’s Turais UAV. American testing is currently underway with Boeing’s AGM-84 Block IC anti-ship missile, Australia is looking into the upgraded AGM-84 Block IG, and India has ordered the AGM-84L Harpoon Block II variant with land attack capability.
Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes equipped with Boeing’s GPS-guided High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC) glide bomb kit promise to extend the plane’s capabilities, by turning the torpedo into a weapon that can be launched from high altitude. That allows the P-8A to remain within its preferred aerodynamic envelope of high-altitude cruise, and reduces the fatigue and corrosion associated with low-level flight. Boeing received a development contract in April 2013, but this capability isn’t expected until P-8A Increment 2, with initial operating capability in 2016.
Beyond that, pilots have commented that P-8 suffers from the lack of a precision weapon that can safely be used in a crowded maritime environment. Smaller boats like FACs are more likely to be targets in that kind of crowded littoral environment, so the missiles can be smaller: the TV/infrared guided AGM-65 Maverick, laser/radar guided Brimstone, tri-mode GBU-53 Small Diamater Bomb II, etc. The lack is felt keenly; the earlier the fix can come, the better. By the mid-2020s, the adoption of more advanced anti-ship missiles under the OASuW program seems likely to fix this problem at the high end as well.
Weapons don’t mean much unless an enemy can be found. The P-8 will rely on a combination of sonobuoys, radars, day/night surveillance equipment, and ESM (Electronic Support Measures) gear. The Magnetic Anomaly Detector that extends behind P-3s and other maritime patrol aircraft isn’t very useful at altitude, and the USA won’t field it on the P-8A, but India will do so on the P-8i.
A canoe-shaped fairing under the plane is expected to house a mission bay that will initially include the Raytheon-Boeing AN/APS-149 Littoral Surveillance Radar System (LSRS), designed to provide targeting-grade tracking of moving targets on land and at sea. It reportedly emerged out of a “black” (classified) program, and details regarding the system remain sketchy. It’s known to be a Boeing-Raytheon AESA MTI (Active Electronically Scanned Array/ Moving Target Indicator) radar, and has already been deployed on some Navy P-3s (see pictures – scroll down to “NAWC-23 at Dallas Love Field”).
LSRS is slated for replacement by a modernized evolution called the Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) in Increment 3 or 4. It’s rumored to have performance standards that match or exceed the USA’s current 707-based E-8C JSTARS battlefield surveillance aircraft. The long profile of LSRS/AAS is probably why Boeing moved the P-8’s weapons bay to the back of the plane in 2003, and the radar’s capabilities would allow it the P-8 to serve as a targeting platform for its own or others’ weapons.
The AN/APS-137Dv5 radar used on the USA’s most modern P-3Cs will also form a key part of the P-8A’s radar suite, after a number of upgrades and a new designation. This enhanced nose-mounted system has been referred to as AN/APS-197, but was formally given the AN/APY-10 designation in June 2006. It offers reduced weight, improved MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures), and a color weather display. In the P-8A, it will also feature improvements such as “joint technical architecture” compliance, better performance in track-while-scan and target detection modes, and full integration with the Boeing mission system.
India’s P-8i adds air-to-air surveillance capabilities to its APY-10 International radar, an enhancement that could filter back to the US fleet in future upgrades.
The AN/ALQ-240v1 Electronic Support Measures system will alert the plane to radar and communications emissions, and track the signals to geolocate their sources. It complements the Early Warning Self Protection System, and enables fast offensive counterattacks.
The P-8’s radars and ESM will be supplemented by L-3 Wescam’s MX-20HD long-range optical surveillance turret. This large surveillance turret houses up to 3 day/night imaging sensors, and 3 laser payloads (i.e. rangefinding, marking/pointing, target designation) that can be swapped in and out. L-3 Enhanced Local Area Processing (ELAP) improves imaging clarity on board, extending effective range and image clarity before the images are broadcast elsewhere.
The most important submarine-finding equipment remains the plane’s sonobuoys, which produce noise and then transmit their receiver data back to the plane. The SSQ-125 MAC will be a generational step forward, but the P-8’s onboard mission software has to be fully capable of interpreting it, and that won’t happen until at least Increment 2. The idea behind Multi-static Active Coherent sonobuoys combines electronically-generated, software-controlled pings, whose echoes can be detected and appropriately identified by multiple receiver sonobuoys in a dropped group. That nullifies a submarine’s standard profile-minimizing head-on maneuver, and the tone’s coherence allows doppler shift equations to reach beyond the contact’s current location and calculate its speed and heading. GPS receivers in source and receiver sonobuoys can sharpen targeting further, which is very useful in conjunction with high-altitude, GPS-guided torpedo kits like HAASW.
Additional modifications and improvements can be expected over the program’s life, as is the case for any major weapon systems. The P-8A was designed to incorporate additional “spiral development” of new weapons and equipment, and it won’t really achieve the capabilities defined in the Pentagon’s official June 25/10 Capability Development Document until v3.0.
Spiral One/ Increment 2: Adds initial HAAWC high altitude torpedo capability, Multi-Static Active Coherent (MAC) for wide-area acoustic surveillance, improvements to sonobuoy drops, integration of Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) radar capability, Automatic Identification System ID for use with compliant civilian ships, updates to the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) mission system, and other acoustic and communications upgrades. Increment 2 planes should become operational around 2016, but integration and test of these capabilities will be done incrementally. It’s always possible for some items to slip to the next spiral.
Spiral Two/ Increment 3: Enhances MAC, early delivery of HAAWC Datalink, more updates to the TOC mission software, and other changes to the plane’s sensors and systems as time and money allow. Introduction of the Advanced Aerial Sensor (AAS) high-resolution AESA radar is expected in this phase. The goal is to bring the P-8A to full compliance with the 2010 JROC specifications, and give the plane a more open electronic architecture for faster integration of new components, and this increment will take a big step forward with interfaces the MQ-4C Triton UAV, which may include full “Level 4” control of its flight and sensors. The program plans a full and open competition for the Increment 3 system architecture contracts, and intends to buy the intellectual property rights as well.
At the moment, India is the P-8’s only export customer, though Australia has signed an MoU ad paid for joint development. India’s P-8i jets will share a number of systems with the American P-8As, including a version of the AN/APY-10 radar. Other key technologies will be specific to the P-8i, however, owing to technology transfer issues or local choices.
With the cancellation of the USAF’s E-10 follow-on to its E-8 JSTARS battlefield surveillance planes, the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon may even be poised to inherit a dual land and sea surveillance role. USN P-3s have already found themselves pressed into overland service, and the much-greater capabilities of the P-8’s LSRS/AAS radars will only make that crossover more attractive.
Boeing has already proposed to replace the USAF’s 17-plane JSTARS fleet with an add-on “P-8 AGS” order, as an alternative to upgrading the 707-based E-8s with new engines, radars, and electronics. That proposal was denied, but the E-8Cs received only a minimal upgrade designed to keep them operational, and the USAF has decided that the 707-based platform is costly to operate and maintain over the long term. They do have a program that aims to field a JSTARS successor by 2022, and if that program survives, the P-8 AGS can expect to compete with the smaller Raytheon/Bombardier Sentinel R1 and a Gulfstream 550/650 derivative.
The USA’s default option is to cancel JSTARS RECAP, in order to fund its KC-46A aerial tanker, F-35 fighter, and new bomber programs. The E-8C JSTARS fleet would then become vulnerable to future USAF fleet-sized cuts. Meanwhile, the P-8As would field in the Navy with comparable or better radars. They would informally take over some of the JSTARS role, alongside USAF surveillance UAVs like RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 40 and its EQ-4 BACN connectivity counterpart.
Something needs to fill the role. NATO’s cancellation of its AGS program’s Airbus 321 MCAR battlefield surveillance jet leaves just 22 battlefield surveillance planes available for global use: the USA’s 707-based JSTARS fleet, and Britain’s newer 5-plane ASTOR Sentinel R1 fleet that’s based on Bombardier’s Global Express business jet.
NATO’s AGS is survived by a 5-UAV program based on the RQ-4B Block 40 Global Hawk, which was originally expected to work with the A321 MCAR as an adjunct. That same 2-tier model survives in the Poseidon program, however, and both tiers of the Navy program will offer land surveillance capabilities. The Poseidon’s Global Hawk UAV companion is called the MQ-4C Triton, developed under a program called BAMS (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance).
The P-3 fleet’s heavy use in both maritime surveillance and overland roles points up a potential problem with the P-8A. As an expensive but in-demand asset, a wider coverage scope could actually accelerate the problem of high flight hours building up in a small fleet. The problem is that airplane lives are measured in flight hours, and usage intensity. See the Strategic Review article “Brittle Swords: Low-Density, High-Demand Assets” [PDF] for more background on this phenomenon.
The logical response is to pair the P-8s with a lower cost counterpart. Hence the P-8’s companion Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV program, run by NAVAIR’s PMA-263 program management office.
The BAMS competition was widely seen as a fight between Northrop Grumman’s high-flying, jet-powered RQ-4 Global Hawk and General Atomics’ turboprop-powered Mariner (a cousin of its MQ-9 Reaper); but other options were offered as well, including an “optionally manned” business jet.
Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4N Global Hawk eventually won, and will be known as the MQ-4C Triton. The US Navy plans to buy 61 of them + 5 test UAVs, and begin operations in 2015. Like the P-8, the MQ-4C is attracting export interest, which could grow the entire international fleet past 66 machines.
DID’s BAMS FOCUS Article covers MQ-4C requirements, international dimension, contracts, and developments. Given their expected numbers, the Tritons could easily find themselves joining their P-8 companions in overland surveillance roles.
Many people would contend that the P-3 Orion is the greatest maritime patrol aircraft ever flown. These aircraft entered service in 1959, and will continue to serve past 2015. Modifications to their equipment have sharpened their capabilities, and even given them a land-attack and surveillance role. In service with 15 countries, the Orion is a great success – but it’s a very old success.
After the abortive P-3G program, the US Navy began a 2-year requirement study in 1997, and the Defense Acquisition Board initiated a number of concept studies during the 2000 to 2002 period. During a 2-phase Component Advanced Development (CAD) program in 2002-2003, Boeing and Lockheed each received $27.5 million to develop their initial designs.
Lockheed’s Orion21 design was based on the P-3 airframe, with United Technologies subsidiaries Pratt & Whitney (7,000 shp PW150A turboprop engine) and Hamilton-Sundstrand (the same 8-bladed NP2000 propeller being refitted to carrier-based E-2 Hawkeye AWACS and C-2 Greyhound aircraft) as key partners.
As noted above, Boeing’s design was based on its 737, one of the most widely produced passenger jets in the world.
In June 2004, Boeing IDS’ 737-based proposal was awarded the $3.9 billion cost-plus-award-fee contract to develop the Navy’s P-8 Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft. The P-8’s system design and development (SDD) contract covers the full range of platform development including all of the on-board mission systems, the modifications to the airframe itself, all of the training systems, and all of the software laboratories required to produce almost 2 million lines of reliable code. It also covers all of the integrated logistics elements, including the trainers, simulators and courseware. Essentially, everything that’s required to get ready to build the production P-8 is part of the SDD contract.
The MMA Program was cleared by a US technical review board to proceed into the design phase, and passed a preliminary design review in September 2005. In January 2007, their entry received the formal US Navy designation of P-8A Poseidon; and in July 2007, Australia made the P-8 an international program by giving their participation “first pass approval.” In December 2008, India became the 1st export, with a customized P-8i design.
The P-8A achieved American Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in late November 2013. IOC is defined as 1 squadron of 6 aircraft, with personnel who are trained and certified to deploy.
Recent budgets for the P-8A program from FY 2008 to the present have included:
Note that annual budgets also include advance procurement for the next year’s buy, so that key items like engines and other long lead-time equipment are ready to go when it’s time to build the P-8s. For instance, the FY 2012 request included long-lead items for 13 FY 2013 aircraft. The Pentagon says that “aircraft procurements are tightly coupled to the [expected] P-3 retirement rates,” but budget cuts will begin to affect production after 2013.
The U.S. program began as 108 planes, and formally stands at 109 production aircraft plus an additional 8 system design & development aircraft (6 flight-test, 2 ground-test). There will actually be 114 program aircraft. The 1st developmental test aircraft (“T1”) and the 2 ground-based static and fatigue test planes aren’t fully configured, and so they aren’t included in the official program total. The Dec 31/31 SAR lists the P-8’s development and production cost at FY10$ 30.33 billion, and the total life cycle cost for procurement plus 25 years of life cycle support will probably be a bit higher than initial estimates of about FY04$ 44 billion.
The current American basing plan is for:
6 operational squadrons at NAS Jacksonville, FL (36) 1 larger “Fleet Readiness” training squadron at NAS Jacksonville, FL (12) 6 squadrons at NAS Whidbey Island, WA (36)
Instead of basing 3 squadrons at Hawaii Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, HI, it will only have a rotating squadron detachment. There will also be periodic squadron detachments to Corondo Naval Base, CA near San Diego. Japan has been promised stepped-up P-8A deployments, and that will probably be its own rotating squadron detachment once arrangements are finalized. Beyond operational aircraft, the fleet will have:
2 “development squadrons” with 2 aircraft each (4). They will be used for testing and development of standard tactics and procedures, before moving on to operational service at locations to be determined.
The P-8i program in India has also attracted its own set of industrial partners, due to a combination of Indian insistence on local content, and security/technology transfer concerns from the USA. Industrial partners in India include well known players like Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Dynamatic Technologies Ltd., HCL Technologies Ltd., Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), Larsen and Toubro Ltd. (L&T), Wipro Ltd., as well as a set of less familiar aerospace and electronics players. See full coverage at “P-8i: India’s Navy Picks Its Future High-End Maritime Patrol Aircraft“.
As things currently stand, key P-8A Poseidon partners, and some other sub-contractors, include:
One innovation within this group involves the way the base airframes are built. The traditional approach for military planes derived from passenger jets has been to either have a separate production line, or to take a normal airframe from the existing line and make structural changes to it on the military line, along with equipment installations. For the P-8A, the process is different.
The fuselages arrive from Spirit’s commercial 737 production line in Wichita, KS already strengthened, without windows, and with a weapons bay. No modifications are necessary.
Outfitting is completed in Renton, WA, where all or the P-8’s other unique structural features are added right on the main 737 production line. Aircraft quality and performance acceptance flight testing takes place right at Renton Field.
Final installation and checkout of the mission system and special flight test instrumentation happens at Boeing Field, near Seattle, WA.
Unlike many other military programs, Boeing appears to be handling the sub-contracts for most of the plane’s equipment itself, which leaves production order figures much closer to the plane’s true purchase cost.
Unless otherwise noted, US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contracts. Note that items unique to India’s P-8is will be covered in that article, and not here.
August 23/19: Strait of Hormuz The Guardian reports that Australia will become the third country to join the United States in patrolling the Strait of Hormuz. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has agreed to dispatch troops and a P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft will be in the region for one month before the end of the year. The contribution to the United States-led mission in the Strait of Hormuz is aimed at protecting freedom of navigation in the Gulf region. The United Kingdom and Bahrain are the only other countries to join the US in the Strait of Hormuz. Australia’s P-8A Poseidon has advanced sensors and mission systems, including a state-of-the-art multi-role radar, high definition cameras, and an acoustic system with four times the processing capacity of the AP-3C Orions.
August 7/19: Damage Tolerance Analysis Boeing won a $32.1 million contract modification for the performance of damage tolerance analysis on the P-8A aircraft to determine damage tolerance rating. The P-8A Poseidon is designed to support maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare and anti-ship warfare operations. The P-8 also conducts shipping interdiction and early warning self-protection ability which involves carrying torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons. It is able to drop and monitor sonobuoys. It is also designed to operate in conjunction with the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Under the modification Boeing will provide non-destructive inspections for structural components on the P-8A aircraft. Work will take place in Washington, Missouri and Alabama and is scheduled to be completed in March 2023.
August 1/19: A-Kits The US Navy tapped Boeing with $10.6 million to procure 16 P-8A A-Kits and 16 Turret Deployment Units for Lots 8 and 9 full.rate production aircraft. The P-8A is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It is capable of broad-area maritime and littoral operations. Back in January it was reported that Boeing would start building add-on kits to create flying torpedoes that can attack submerged enemy submarines from long ranges and from high altitudes. The P-8A weapon system consists of a basic Boeing commercial 737-800 ERX air vehicle modified to meet Navy requirements, and numerous systems and subsystems for avionics, communications, mission, and weapon capabilities.Boeing will perform work under the contract modification in Washington, Arizona, and Canada and expects completion in August 2021.
July 18/19: First Flight Britain’s first P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft took off in an inaugural flight by Boeing test pilots from Renton, Washington. According to a press release by Boeing, the aircraft took off at 10:00 am Pacific on July 12, marking the first flight of the UK Royal Air Force’s nine Poseidons. Britain is among six international customers for the P-8A Poseidon. The others are Australia, India, Norway, New Zealand and South Korea. During the 90 minute flight, key testing took place before the aircraft touched down and moved to the next phase of preparation before customer delivery, installation of military systems. The plane’s next move will be to Boeing’s facility in Tukwila, Washington, a P-8 installation and checkout facility, where mission systems are installed and further testing happens before final delivery to Britain.
July 15/19: Great Britain Boeing won a $23.4 million order for logistics support on the P-8A Poseidon aircraft sold to Britain’s military. The deal involves initial acceptance and breakdown of four P-8A aircraft and training, with an eight-month detachment to Britain to establish initial operational capability. Subsequent full operational capability, scheduled aircraft maintenance, support equipment maintenance, engineering reach back and technical assistance are also included in the contract. The Boeing P-8 series is developed from the Boeing 737-800 passenger plane and is modified for military use. It is equipped with an early warning self-protection system, which includes torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and other weapons. Work will take place in Lossiemouth, Scotland; Seattle, Washington and Jacksonville, Florida. Estimated completion date is in December 2020.
July 8/19: Poseidon’s Teamwork US and Chilean Naval Forces commenced the exercise Teamwork 2019 on July 5. The biennial naval exercise takes place off the Chilean coast. It focuses on conducting training scenarios in intermediate and advanced anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations. Two P-8As from the Navy’s Patrol Squadron 4 or VP-4 are deployed to Chile for the exercise. The USS Michael Murphy is joining them off the coast. The Boeing P-8A Poseidon is a multi-mission maritime aircraft. In 2004, the Navy awarded Boeing for the system development and demonstration phase of the program for the US Navy’s next-generation maritime surveillance aircraft. The Teamwork South 2019 exercise builds upon established relationships between the US and Chilean Navies and improves joint capabilities to conduct bilateral engagements. The exercise strengthens international maritime partnerships and improves the readiness of participating forces for a wide range of potential operations.
June 21/19: New Zealand Progress The New Zealand government said it has made progress in its program to procure Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from the US government. New Zealand agreed to procure four P-8A aircraft in July 2018. It said at that time that the acquisition – including training systems, infrastructure, and introduction into service costs – would total $1.5 billion. A factsheet released last week states that delivery of the first P-8A to the RNZAF is expected by April 2023 with initial operating capability achieved by July of the same year. The entire fleet of four aircraft is slated to reach final operating capability by 2025.
June 12/19: Acoustics and Engineering The US Navy awarded Boeing a $22.8 million contract modification for additional acoustics software support activity and engineering support for the P-8A Poseidon. The modification also incorporates virtual machine efforts and develops and integrates software for Multi-static Active Coherent Enhancements. The Poseidon is capable of broad-area maritime and littoral operations. It is also effective at humanitarian and search and rescue missions. The aircraft is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and ISR missions. Work will take place in Huntington Beach, California and is scheduled to be complete in January 2022.
June 10/19: Mechanisms Boeing won a $40.6 million modification to deliver 13 mechanisms for P-8A surveillance aircraft and two forward mechanisms for P-8A trainers. The P-8A Poseidon is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The US Navy, the Indian Navy, and the Royal Australian Air Force operate the aircraft. Boeing in October celebrated the completion of the 100th P-8 aircraft, saying at the time that P-8s had accumulated more than 150,000 flight hours. The P-8 is militarized with maritime weapons, a modern open mission system architecture, and commercial-like support for affordability. The aircraft has been modified to include a bomb bay and pylons for weapons, two weapons stations on each wing, and can carry 129 sonobuoys. Work will take place in Seattle, Washington and Dallas, Texas and is scheduled to be completed in November 2022.
April 5/19: New Engine for the UK The US Navy awarded CFM International a $13.5 million contract modification for a spare P-8A Poseidon jet engine in support of the government of the UK. The Poseidon is a military aircraft that conducts anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and shipping interdiction. The aircraft can cruise at high altitude at nearly 926km/h (500kt) and loiter at a speed of 333km/h (180kt) over the sea at 60m. It has two CFM International CFM56-7B27A high-bypass turbofan engines, each rated at 120kN. CFM International, a West Chester company, won a $3.2 billion jet engine order for the Latin American low-cost carrier Viva Air just a few days ago. Work for the modification awarded by the Naval Air Systems Command will take place in France and Ohio and is supposed to be complete in January next year. Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $13,247,329 are being obligated at time of award.
March 28/19: APY-10 Radar Raytheon won a deal to offer APY-10 Radar Systems for Poseidon Jets from the Naval Air Systems Command. The contract modification is worth $39.7 million and the company will acquire three APY-10 Radar System production kits for the US Navy as well as four for the UK government and five for the government of Norway. The task is to support the production of Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft’s Lot 10 with Raytheon’s AN/APY-10 state-of-the-art maritime, littoral and overland surveillance radar. The AN/APY-10 is fully integrated into Boeing’s Mission Control and Display System for control, display and data distribution on the Poseidon. It is also the only system of its type to provide a dedicated short exposure submarine periscope detection mode as well as ultra-high resolution imaging modes for maritime and overland operations, delivering uncompromised performance in every operational environment. The P8-A Poseidon is a long-range, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. In 2015 Raytheon won a multi-year contract worth $153 million from the US Navy to manufacture 53 AN/APY-10 maritime, littoral and overland surveillance radars for its fleet of the Poseidon. Last year, the UK procured eight APY-10 radar systems for their P-8As. Work under the contract modification is scheduled to be completed in September 2022. Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $39,718,809 will be obligated at time of award.
March 21/19: Increment 3 Block Capabilities The Naval Air Systems Command awarded Boeing a $326.3 million Delivery Order to develop, integrate and test Increment 3 Block capabilities into the P-8A aircraft for the US Navy as well as the government of Australia. The P-8A Poseidon is derived from Boeing’s 737-800 and designed for anti-surface and submarine warfare, broad-area maritime missions, littoral operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It features the Raytheon APY-10 multi-mission surface search radar. Work under the deal will take place in Washington, New York, Illinois, California, Maryland, Arizona, Missouri as well as Florida and is expected to be finished in March 2024.
March 4/19: US, New Zealand, South Korea: The US Naval Air Systems Command awarded Boeing a $428.9 million modification for long-lead material and activities in support of 16 P-8A Poseidons. The award includes the complete orders for South Korea and New Zealand. The US government approved the sale of four P-8As to New Zealand in May 2017. The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) is procuring the aircraft to replace its aging Lockheed Martin P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. South Korea’s procurement was approved in September 2018, with the Republic of South Korea Air Force (RoKAF) also looking to replace its fleet of aging P-3 Orions. The modification covers long-lead material and activities in support of four aircraft for New Zealand and six for South Korea. It also covers six further aircraft for the US Navy. The P-8 Poseidon is a militarized version of the 737-800ERX that conducts anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and shipping interdiction. The aircraft is the U.S. Navy’s next-generation maritime surveillance aircraft. Work under the contract modification will take place within the continental US and is scheduled to be completed in June next year.
February 21/19: Arctic deployment Britain will deploy the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to the Arctic next year in order of tackling the growing threat from Russian submarines. The proposed deployment is part of the so called Defence Arctic Strategy, which was launched in September to address the increasing opportunities and threats present in the region. As part of the Defence Arctic Strategy, British Royal Marines carry out cold weather training in collaboration with Norway. Nine Poseidon aircraft will be delivered to Royal Air Force Lossiemouth next year for reconnaissance patrols over a wide range including the High North and North Atlantic. The Poseidon is a military aircraft that conducts anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and shipping interdiction.
February 14/19: AN/AAQ-24 and ALQ-213 The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $27.3 million contract in support of Lot 9 and 10 P-8A production. The P-8A Poseidon is a military aircraft that conducts anti-submarine warfare (WSA), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, with an early warning self-protection ability. The deal includes integration, testing, delivery, and performance as the lead systems integrator for the AN/AAQ-24 Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures System and the ALQ-213 Electronic Warfare Management System. The AN/AAQ-24 system is a directional infrared countermeasure system. It consists of a missile warning system, an integration unit, a processor, and laser turrets. The ALQ-213 Electronic Warfare Management System controls a wide variety of equipment, including warning systems, jammers, countermeasures dispensers, and missile warning systems. In the last couple of years, production of the ALQ-213 has been revitalized by its selection to equip the US Navy’s Poseidon multimission maritime aircraft. The current contract for production is for the US Navy and various Foreign Military Sales customers like Australia and the UK. Work will take place in Illinois and is scheduled to be completed by February 2021.
January 28/19: Boeing tapped for P-8A production The Naval Air Systems Command tapped Boeing with a $2.5 million contract modification to produce 19 P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the U.S. Navy, Norway and the United Kingdom, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a release. Ten aircraft are for the U.S. Navy, four for the U.K. and five for Norway. The modification also includes engineering change proposal 4 SilverBlock for the government of the U.K. and Lot 10 segregable efforts consisting of unknown obsolescence, Class I change assessments and obsolescence monitoring. At almost $1.26 billion, the U.S. Navy purchase makes up 51 per cent of the total contract value, while Norway’s almost $695 million makes up 28 per cent, and the U.K.’s almost $507 million makes up 21 per cent. The P8-A Poseidon conducts anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and shipping interdiction, also with an early warning self-protection ability. The US Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Indian Navy are currently operating the P-8. The UK’s Royal Air Force, where the P-8 will be known under the name „Poseidon MRA1“, the Royal Norwegian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force ordered the aircraft as well. Work under the contract will be performed in Washington, Maryland, New York, and the UK and is currently expected to be finished by March 2022.
January 11/19: Boeing tapped for HAAWC integration on P-8A The US Naval Sea Systems awarded Boeing a $9.3 million contract modification for the integration of the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC) on the Poseidon P-8A submarine-hunting aircraft. The High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC) provides an all-weather, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) weapon system capable of high altitude launch of the MK-54 torpedo from the P-8A Poseidon. HAAWC consists of a modular, Air Launch Accessory (ALA) kit that attaches to the MK-54 Torpedo. the ALA transforms the MK-54 into a precision-guided glide weapon wich operates in either GPS-aided or GPS-denied environments. Back in June the the US Navy announced, it intended to award Boeing a contract for full rate production of the HAAWC Air Launch Accessory for use in launching the MK 54 Torpedo from the P-8A Poseidon aircraft from high altitude. Work will be performed in Missouri and is expected to be finished by May 2020.
November 26/18: Norway CFM International is being contracted to deliver a new jet engine to Norway under the Foreign Military Sales program. Priced at $13 million the contract sees for the procurement of one P-8 Poseidon engine. The Poseidon is powered by a CFM56-7B27AE high-bypass turbofan aircraft engine. Norway bought nine Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft in 2016 to replace its ageing P-3 Orion fleet. Work will be performed at factories in Villaroche, France, Evendale, Ohio, Bromont, Canada and Singapore. The contract is set to run through September 2019.
November 21/18: Friend or Foe The US Navy is procuring a number of Identification Friend or Foe Interrogator (IFFI) units for its P-8A Poseidon aircraft. Telephonics will deliver up-to 50 IFFIs and their associated mounting trays at a cost of $15.1 million. This contract also includes purchases for partner countries and FMS customers. The AN/UPX-43 is a Mark XIIA monopulse and AIMS-certified IFF interrogator for command and control. It enables air traffic controllers and air defenders to identify military and civilian aircraft, verify forces as friendly, and determine their bearing and range. The first order under this IDIQ contract combines purchases for the Navy ($2.7 million) and for the British Royal Air Force ($900 million). Work will be performed at Telephonics’ factory in Farmingdale, New York, and is expected to be completed in November 2021.
October 18/18: Service agreement extended The Navy is modifying a support agreement with Boeing. The $136.9 million contract modification extends depot level maintenance and repair services for the P-8A’s engines. The contract is supporting Poseidon aircraft that are flown by the Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. Boeing will also be responsible to conduct field assessments and provide technical assistance during engine changes. The P-8A Poseidon is a heavily militarized derivative of the globally deployed, commercially supported Boeing 737-800 airframe and commercial CFM56-7B27A/3 and CFM56-7B27AE series engines. The high-bypass turbofan engines, are each rated at 120kN. The engine has logged more than 30 million flight hours and maintains a proven high-reliability figure of merit of 0.003% in-flight shut down rate for every 1,000 hours of flight. Work will be performed at Boeing facilities in Atlanta, Georgia and Seattle, Washington. The contract is expected to run through October 2019.
September 18/18: ROK request The Republic of Korea wants to purchase six P-8A Patrol Aircraft from the United States. The possible FMS is valued at $2.1 billion. The potential deal would also include several joint tactical radio systems, GPS, missile warning sensors, radar, electronic support measures and counter measure dispensing systems. The Poseidon is designed to perform a variety of tasks and provides a Navy with an anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-smuggling platform that can sweep the area, launch sensors or weapons as needed, and remain aloft for many hours. The plane is equipped with a combination of sonobuoys, radars, day/night surveillance equipment, and ESM gear. Its 11 hardpoints can be armed with Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes, depth charges, and some free-fall bombs. Prime contractor will be Boeing. Other contractors include – among others – Raytheon, WESCAM, Rockwell Collins, Lockheed Martin and DRS. The DSCA notes, that the “proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing Korea’s naval capabilities to provide national defense and significantly contribute to coalition operations”.
September 14/18: Training System Boeing is being tapped to upgrade the Navy’s P-8A Aircrew Training System. The contract modification has a value of $194.5 million and provides for upgrades that are essential to meeting future mission capabilities. Upgrades will also be made to training systems located in Adelaide, Australia. The advanced training system will allow the Navy and RAAF to reduce the time the aircraft is used for training, and thus increases its availability for operations. Work will be performed at multiple locations including Jacksonville, Florida; Whidbey Island, Washington and Dallas, Texas. The contract is scheduled for completion by September 2023.
August 31/18: QEC Aviall Services, a subsidiary of Boeing will provide the US and Australian Navies with essential components for the P-8A Poseidon. The $23.7 million firm-fixed-price contract procures six quick engine change & engine build up components. The engine’s used on the P-8 are designed so that the whole assembly can be removed from and replaced in the vehicle as a unit. Under the Quick Engine Change concept, if a unit requires a major engine job, the power plant can be removed and another one quickly installed. The Poseidon is powered by a CFM56-7B27AE engine is produced by CFM International belongs to the family of high-bypass turbofan aircraft engines. Work will be performed at the company’s facilities in Everett, Washington and Dallas, Texas. The US Navy and Australia will pay $15.8 and $7.9 million respectively. The contract expected to be completed in May 2020.
August 15/18: Engine for down-under The government of Australia is set to receive a new engine for one of its P-8 Poseidon aircraft at a cost of $12.8 million. The Poseidon is powered by a CFM56-7B27AE engine is produced by CFM International belongs to the family of high-bypass turbofan aircraft engines. The CFM56-7 first ran on 21 April 1995 and has a takeoff thrust range of 19,500–27,300lb. It powers commercial Next-Generation 737s and military versions of the airframe including the AWACS and C-40 Clipper. Work will be performed at multiple international locations, including Villaroche, France and Durham, North Carolina. Delivery of the engine is scheduled for September 2019.
June 26/18: Poseidon for NZ The government of New Zealand is planning to replace its ageing fleet of P-3 maritime patrol fleet with up to four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes. A recent report by the New Zealand Defense Force found that it spent $248 million on maintaining its fleet of P-3s over the past 10 years, with costs expected to gradually increase over the coming years. The P-8 will search for and destroy submarines, monitor sea traffic, launch missile attacks on naval or land targets as required, act as a flying communications relay for friendly forces, and possibly provide and electronic signal intercepts. The replacement program could cost up to $1.4 billion in total.
June 6/18: Sensor support The Navy is currently procuring support activities for its P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance plane. Under this $24.7 million contract Boeing will provide logistics and engineering data for the Advanced Airborne Sensor Peculiar Support Equipment (PSE). The Advanced Airborne Sensor is a multifunction radar installed on the P-8A. It’s a solid-state, active electronically scanned array radar with multiple functions ranging from a Synthetic Aperture Radar, Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar and Moving Target Indication modes. The externally mounted radar and a follow-on system to the currently deployed Littoral Surveillance Radar System (LSRS). LSRS currently provides a broad range of capabilities against moving and stationary targets at sea and on land. In addition, this contract acquires product support analysis, training information, technical manuals and proof-load documentation, enabling the Navy to organically support the PSE. Work will be performed Richardson, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri. The contract is expected to be completed in March 2022.
May 28/18: More on the way Boeing is being tapped to provide the Navy with three additional P-8A planes under a $416 million contract. The Poseidon is a multi-mission maritime aircraft that will completely replace the old P-3 fleet. The P-8 uses the same 737 airframe as the US Navy’s C-40 Clipper naval cargo aircraft. The base model is Boeing’s 737-800 ERX, with “raked” wingtips that improve performance for low-level flight. The P-8A has 11 weapon hard points: 5 in the rotary weapon bay, 4 under the wings, and 2 under the fuselage. Weapon load can exceed 10t/ 22,000 pounds, and all hard points have digital weapon interfaces. The aircraft is designed to work in conjunction with the MQ-4C Triton and essentially provides the Navy with an anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-smuggling platform that can sweep the area, launch sensors or weapons as needed, and remain aloft for many hours. Work will be performed at a number of locations in- and outside the continental US, including Seattle, Washington and Cambridge, United Kingdom. The contract is expected to be completed in October 2020.
April 12/18: Training Systems-US/AUS Boeing has been selected to provide both the US Navy and government of Australia with training systems for P-8A Poseidon aircraft. Valued at $35.9 million, the deal allows the air-framer to provide P-8A Poseidon maintenance device training system upgrades for both customers and falls under a firm-fixed-price contract modification to an existing award and combines purchases for the Navy ($18,063,363; 51 percent); and the government of Australia ($17,905,905; 49 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will take place in Jacksonville, Florida and Edinburgh, Australia, running through to January 2020. The Poseidon is an anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft designed to work in conjunction with the MQ-4C Triton, a UAV used for maritime patrol operations, and is also on order with the UK, Norway, and India. In March, Boeing’s 100th Poseidon entered final assembly in Renton, Washington and the firm says its current order backlog will keep its production line running until 2022.
March 22/18: RAAF IOC Australia’s fleet of P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft have achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC). So far, the Royal Australian Air Force has taken delivery of six aircraft out of a total order of 12, with the aircraft operated by the No. 11 sqn. from RAAF Edinburgh. “The arrival of the P-8A has allowed Air Force, under Plan Jericho, to develop and evolve new operating concepts, support arrangements and sustainment options,” adds RAAF air marshal Leo Davies. “These will best exploit the P-8A’s sensors and networking as part of integrated Navy and Air Force integrated Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Family of Systems.” Under this plan, first announced in 2015, Canberra also aims to acquire and integrate Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton UAV, and has hinted that it could obtain “up to seven”.
March 07/18: Lot 10 long-lead parts The US Navy has ordered long-lead parts for 19 Lot 10 P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, tapping manufacturer Boeing with a $282.2 million contract to carry out the work. Under the terms of the agreement, the parts will cover ten aircraft for the US Navy, as well as covering the foreign military sales of five aircraft to Norway and four to the UK. Work will take place primarily at Seattle, Washington, with other work to take place across the continental US and in Cambridge, UK. Work will be completed by March 2022.
February 5/18: Contracts-Airframe & Engine Support A series of contracts were awarded to industry on Thursday, February 1, in support of the US Navy’s P-8 Poseidon program. Tapped for individual work orders include the program’s lead contractor Boeing, as well as AAR Aircraft Services Inc and StandardAero, for airframe and engine services and depot maintenance valued at more than $268.7 million combined. Airframe work will be led by Boeing, with secondary support from AAR, and includes scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, in-service repair, planner and estimator requirements, technical directive incorporation, airframe modifications and aircraft on ground support. Meanwhile, Standard Aero will lead the work, with support from Boeing, on engine depot work that will include depot maintenance and repair; field assessment, maintenance repair and overhaul engine repair, and technical assistance for removal and replacement of engines. Work will take place at facilities operated by the three awardees across the US and Canada, with a scheduled completion date of January 2019. The contract covers services for the Navy, the government of Australia and foreign military sales customers.
January 12/18: Logistics Services US Navy and Australian government P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) will have integrated logistics services and site activation support provided by the aircraft’s manufacturer Boeing, following the award of a $115.2 million contract modification issued by the Naval Air Systems Command. The majority of the work will take place in Seattle, Washington and at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with some work being carried out in Brisbane, Australia. Scheduled completion is set for September 2021. Under a joint agreement, the new modified contract combines purchases for the US Navy and Australia. The Pentagon is expected to pay out more than $103.3 million, or what amounts to 90 percent of the total contract value, under a cooperative engagement agreement.
August 8/17: The US Navy has awarded Boeing a $11.1 million contract modification to conduct additional ground repair work on the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft operated by the service. Work will be carried out at Jacksonville, Fla., as well as other sites throughout the United States and locations in Japan, Australia and Italy, with a scheduled completion of June 2018. The Navy currently operates a fleet of 50 Poseidons and expect future deliveries to bring the fleet to 109 as it replaces its older P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft.
July 6/17: The US, UK, and Norway are seeking to build a trilateral coalition based around the mutual use of P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. While the exact details of the plan have yet to be fleshed out, the agreement will initially seek to establish a framework for further cooperation in areas such as readiness, enhancing defense capability, and interoperability. Additional areas for further cooperation include joint operations in the North Atlantic, information sharing and the possibility of co-locating maintenance and training assets. It is hoped that the co-operation and sharing of assets such as maintenance will help bring costs down and keep readiness rates high for American assets surveilling the waters near Europe.
July 5/17: Northrop Grumman has received a pair of contracts for the AN/ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measures system on US Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. With a cumulative worth of $30 million, the orders include depot level repairs and refurbishment of the AN/ALQ-240 and the spare parts necessary. Work will take place at various locations with an estimated completion time of October 2020. The system allows operators greater situational awareness and anticipation of enemy air and naval electronic defenses as it can detect and provide precise location data of enemy radars jammers, and other electronic threats to the P-8 and Navy ships.
June 12/17: Boeing will provide seven deployable crew trainers for P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to the US Navy. Delivers of the Deployable Mission Readiness Trainers (DMRTs) will commence in 2019 and includes its Weapons Tactics Trainer system, incorporating sonobuoy and ocean acoustics modeling. The trainers will allow Navy crews to continue simulator training while deployed abroad. The system will also be delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force.
April 30/17: New Zealand has been cleared by the US State Department for the $1.46 billion purchase of four Boeing P-8A maritime patrol aircraft alongside associated equipment and support. The sale will go toward the maintenance of Wellington’s Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) capability, following the retirement of the P-3K maritime patrol aircraft. Japan had also tried to sell the Kawasaki P-1 to New Zealand, a rival platform being marketed agains Boeing’s P-8A.
April 2/17: Boeing has been awarded a $2.1 billion US Navy contract to produce 17 P-8A Poseidon aircraft. Under the agreement, the company will deliver 11 units to the Navy, and five for cooperative partners and as foreign military sales, with completion expected for December 2020. The sale also includes manufacturing orders for long lead parts, obsolescence monitoring, and integrated baseline program management reviews. While the destination of the foreign orders were not included, India and Australia are both primary operators of the aircraft.
December 22/16: The US State Department has cleared the potential sale of P-8A surveillance aircraft to Norway. Five aircraft and associated systems and support, valued at $1.75 billion, will be provided in a deal aimed at upgrading Norway’s maritime surveillance capabilities. The P-8 will replace Oslo’s current fleet of P-3 Orions.
November 30/16: As part of governmental approval to increase defense spending, Norway plans to drop some $1.15 billion on five P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. With Norway sharing a long maritime border with Russia, the acquisition comes as Nordic and Baltic states ramp up modernization and capability efforts in order to dissuade Moscow from trying to pull another “Crimea” in the Baltics. Delivery of the planes will take place between 2021 and 2022 and will replace the current fleet of six P-3 Orion and three DA-20 Jet Falcon aircraft.
October 14/16: Kawasaki Heavy Industries are confident that they can poach customers away from Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon aircraft in favor of their own P-1. The company said that customers looking to move away from their older P-1 Orions see a number of advantages in the Japanese anti-submarine warfare plane over its American counterpart. One advantage touted over the P-8A is the P-1’s four turbofan engines, as a single engine failure will not result in the termination of the mission and allows the plane to operate at lower altitudes.
September 30/16: Boeing rolled out the first of its 12 P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force during a ceremony in Seattle. The maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft, based on the design of Boeing’s 737-800 fuselage, will fly to Australia in November. Featuring a weapons bay as well as under-wing and under-fuselage hard points for weapons, the aircraft will be used for anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and shipping interdiction as Australia looks to assert itself as a regional security player in the region.
September 2/16: South Korea may join the US Navy, India, and Australia in operating the P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, according to defense ministry officials. If given the go ahead, Seoul may purchase four of the aircraft to help expand their surveillance and anti-submarine warfare capabilities following submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) tests by North Korea. The aircraft can fly at altitudes up to 41,000 feet and are capable of striking enemy submarines immediately upon detecting them with weapons such as the MK 54 torpedo.
July 21/16: Boeing is to deliver four P-8 Poseidon aircraft to the Australian government. A US Navy contract modification awarded Boeing a $100 million order to produce and deliver the aircraft by June 2017. Once delivered, the P-8s will engage in long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
July 13/16: Norway has expressed an interest in procuring five to six Boeing P-8A maritime patrol aircraft according to a senior US Navy official. Rear Admiral Dean Peters, program executive officer for anti-submarine warfare, assault, and special missions programs, said the Navy had asked potential P-8 buyers to express their interest by next summer. Production of the aircraft is to cease in the next three years.
July 12/16: While he may be soon out the door as UK Prime Minister, David Cameron has announced the completion of a number of deals for the P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and AH-64E attack helicopters during the Farnborough airshow this week. The UK announced its intention to buy the submarine-hunting P-8A planes in November to plug a gap in its defenses that has existed since 2010, when it ditched the Nimrod, built by the local BAE Systems. As a result of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, Cameron was to step down as leader in October, however this could be hastened as only one candidate, Theresa May, remains in the leadership race.
July 6/16: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cleared the Navy to purchase four more Boeing P-8Is during a recent meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Delivery of the $1 billion order is expected over the next three to four years. This adds to eight others ordered in 2010 to enhance the Navy’s Anti-submarinewarfare (ASW) and maritime patrol capabilities.
May 27/16: Turkish defense procurement officials revealed that the Turkish Navy is keen to induct a long-range maritime patrol aircraft to complement its CN-235 and ATR72 fleet, with Boeing’s P-8A a favored choice. Requirements from Ankara include being able to fly 1,000 to 1,200 nautical miles away from their main base in Turkey, and fly 12 to 15 hours as well as being able to fulfill anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare roles. While a request for information is expected to be released soon, the parameters set may make the competition a very small one.
April 7/16: The US Navy has awarded Boeing a $235.2 million modification contract to obtain long-lead materials and parts required for the P-8A program. The deal will see the company produce and deliver 11 Lot 8 full-rate production IV of the multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft by January 2017. This follows up on a potential $2.5 billion order for the aircraft from January for building the aircraft for both the Navy and the government of Australia.
March 28/16: The UK’s planned purchase of 9 P-8A Poseidon aircraft has been approved by the US State Department. The $3.2 billion sale was a top priority for the British government with the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) saying the aircraft “will enhance Britain’s capabilities to provide national defense and contribute to NATO and coalition operations.” The UK’s intention to purchase the aircraft was made last November in order to help the UK protect its nuclear deterrent and fill a gap left by a much-criticized decision to scrap the Nimrod spy-plane program in 2010.
March 2/16: Boeing is to provide the US Navy with two addition P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft in a deal worth $276.2 million. Production and delivery is expected to be completed by February 2019. The February 29 contract follows the much larger order of 20 P-8A aircraft with 16 for the Navy and four going to Australia. It’s expected that the Navy will require 117 P-8As to take over operations as the P-3C Orion comes closer to the end of its operational life.
February 1/16: The US Navy has placed an order with Boeing for twenty P-8A Poseidon aircraft in a contract worth $2.5 billion. Sixteen will replace the P-3C Orion used by the Navy for long-range, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare as well for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Four will be sold to Australia under the US Foreign Military Sales program. Included in the contract, Boeing will also be tasked with providing obsolescence monitoring, change assessment, and integrated baseline and program management reviews.
July 30/15: Boeing has ended its contract with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, citing shoddy production quality of HAL-manufactured components for India’s P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft under construction by Boeing, as well as components for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The $4.7 million contract in question was signed in February 2010.
July 1/15: Also on Monday the Navy handed Boeing a $358.9 million contract to provide long-lead production materials for twenty-nine Full Rate Production P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and ASW aircraft. The twenty-nine aircraft are split between Lots II and III, with the Navy set to take nine of the former and sixteen of the latter, with the remaining four Lot III aircraft earmarked for the Royal Australian Air Force. Boeing received a $295.6 million advance acquisition contract in August 2014 for long-lead items for a dozen Full Rate Production Lot II P-8A aircraft, with funding for four of these similarly destined for the RAAF.
June 30/15: The Navy awarded Boeing a $14.1 million delivery order for development and definition of system requirements for the P-8A Poseidon Multi Mission Aircraft, to build towards the program’s Increment 3 Capabilities Integration System Requirements Review Systems Engineering Technical Review. The aim of Increment 3 is to enhance the Multi-Static Active Coherent system, provide early delivery of the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability datalink, improve the Tactical Operations Center mission software and introduce the Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) high-resolution AESA radar, as well as other changes to the plane’s sensors and systems as time and money allow.
May 27/15: Rockwell Collins was awarded a $24.8 million IDIQ contract to supply the Navy and Australia with aircraft direction finders, radio tuner panels and high frequency radio shipsets for the P-8A Poseidon, with the contract slated for completion in 2020.
May 5/15: On Monday Boeing was awarded a $118.1 million contract modification for training systems and services for the Navy and Australia, in support of the P-8A maritime multimission aircraft, including the procurement of Operational Flight Trainer and Weapon Tactics Trainer systems, as well as other training assets for the Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force.
Oct 14/15: Delivery #18. Boeing delivered the 18th P-8A Poseidon aircraft to the US Navy ahead of schedule, as it departs Boeing Field in Seattle, WA for the fleet readiness training squadron at NAS Jacksonville, FL. It was Boeing’s 5th delivery of 2014, and Boeing is under contract for 53 P-8As so far. Sources: Boeing, “Boeing Delivers 18th P-8A Poseidon to U.S. Navy”.
Full Rate Production begins; Australia commits to 8 planes; Basing decisions made; 1st official deployment; Boeing introducing Challenger MSA as a lower-tier option; DOT&E report shows flaws in the Navy, as well as flaws within the aircraft; Watch those roofs, they bite; An ASW pilot’s viewpoint.
Sept 29/14: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives an $11.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for training-specific P-8A data storage architecture updates and upgrades, to include hardware, software, and integration. See also Sept 25/14, which covers data storage architecture changes to existing aircraft. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 Navy aircraft budgets.
Work will be performed in Dallas, TX (35%); Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, FL (30%); NAS Whidbey Island, Washington (30%); and St. Louis, MO (5%), and is expected to be complete in December 2015. The Naval Air Warfare Center’s Training Systems Division in Orlando, FL manages this contract (N00019-12-C-0112).
Sept 29/14: Support. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $43.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for P-8A integrated logistics and contractor services. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 Navy aircraft budgets.
Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington (58%); Jacksonville, FL (12%); Valencia, CA (6%); Linthicum, MD (5%); Greenlawn, NY (3%); and various locations within the United States (16%), and is expected to be complete in April 2017 (N00019-12-C-0112).
Sept 29/14: Infrastructure. RQ Construction, LLC in Carlsbad, CA, wins a $21 million firm-fixed-price contract to design and build the P-8A Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and Mobile Tactical Operations Center at NAS Whidbey Island, WA. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2012 and 2014 Navy construction budgets. The contract also contains 2 unexercised options, which could raise its value to $23.1 million.
The new low-rise TOC facility will include the commander, patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 10 headquarters. It will be accompanied by demolition of an existing building, and demolition with hazardous waste disposal may be required. For the mobile TOC, RQ will renovate and convert the current TOC B2771 to a new Mobile TOC. Both facilities will contain classified spaces.
Work will be performed in Oak Harbor, WA, and is expected to be complete by September 2017. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 19 proposals received by NAVFAC NW in Silverdale, WA (N44255-14-C-5006).
Sept 25/14: Upgrades. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $26.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to conduct retrofit services on the Data Storage Architecture in P-8A Low Rate Initial Production Lots 1-3. $9.8 million in FY 2012 Navy aircraft budgets is committed immediately.
Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL, and is expected to be complete in September 2016 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Aug 18/14: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $30.4 million firm-fixed-price contract modification “for the development of a structural repair manual in support of the P-8A Poseidon Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft.” Even as an interactive electronic product, that isn’t cheap. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy aircraft budgets.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA and is expected to be complete in November 2018 (N00019-12-C-0112).
Aug 14/14: FRP-2 long lead. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $295.6 million advance acquisition contract, which buys long-lead time items for 12 Full Rate Production Lot II (FY 2015) P-8As: 8 US Navy ($152 million / 51%), and 4 for Australia ($143.6 million/ 49%). This is Australia’s 1st order, and is likely to contain customization funds as well. $207.8 million is committed immediately, including $55.8 million from Australia.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (82.6%); Baltimore, MD (6.2%); Greenlawn, NY (4.2%); the United Kingdom (3.5%); and North Amityville, NY (3.5%), and is expected to be complete in April 2018. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-14-C-0067).
July 31/14: Delivery #15. The US Navy’s 15th P-8A Poseidon arrives at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL, shortly after the VP-16 “War Eagles” finish the type’s 1st deployment abroad at Kadena AB in Okinawa, Japan. Sources: Boeing, “Boeing Delivers 15th Production P-8A Poseidon to U.S. Navy”.
July 29/14: Australia. Flight Global reports that Australia is looking to incorporate the AGM-84G Harpoon Block I anti-ship missile into its P-8As. It’s also known as the AGM-84 Block IG, and reportedly adds seeker improvements and re-attack mode. It could be created by upgrading existing Australian AGM-84 missiles, which serve on the AP-3C fleet.
There seems to be a bit of a divergence on the P-8, but no matter which missile is picked, it needs to be fully integrated with the plane’s mission software. The USA has been testing the AGM-84 Block IC, while India’s P-8i seems set to host the GPS/radar guided AGM-84L Block II with land attack capability. Australia has requested Harpoon Block IIs for other platforms, but appears to be satisfied with smaller-scale air-launched upgrades. Sources: Flight Global, “Australia pushes for Harpoon integration on P-8As”.
July 21/14: Infrastructure. Korte Construction Co., DBA The Korte Co. in St. Louis, MO wins a $36.2 million firm-fixed-price contract to build the P-8A Multi-Missioned Maritime Aircraft Training Facility at NAS Whidbey Island, WA. The 2-story operational training facility will include space for 8 OFTs (operational flight trainers) and 6 WTTS (weapons tactical trainers), with associated support network and communications equipment, classrooms, and administrative spaces. The facility will also contain bridge cranes, special access program facility spaces, and extensive networking equipment. All funds are committed immediately using FY 2014 US Navy construction budgets, but a pair of unexercised options could increase the cumulative contract value to $36.3 million.
Work will be performed in Oak Harbor, WA, and is expected to be complete by January 2016. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 23 proposals received by NAVFAC Northwest in Silverdale, WA (N44255-14-C-5002).
July 4/14: Foxtrot Alpha’s “Confessions Of A US Navy P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol Pilot” interviews a US Navy P-3C pilot who now flies P-8As. He sees the P-8A as a safer aircraft that’s easier to fly, and the ability to perform any tactical job from any workstation magnifies the aircraft’s flexibility. It’s implied that the new plane will change the standard career zenith from being a Fleet Replacement Instructor, to being a Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Weapons School Instructor.
With that said, “the lack of a Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) aboard the P-8A is a drawback,” and the Harpoon missile’s lack of precision in crowded shipping environments makes the current absence of weapons like the AGM-65 Maverick “a major step back”. The growth of long-range anti-aircraft missiles like the HQ-9, S-400, etc. also presents a radar-guided threat to maritime patrol planes in the littoral environment, and so the lack of rasdar-centric defensive systems is a concern in the community. A key excerpt:
“ASW is all about the time from the last known position of the sub in question. Geometry rules everything…. [speed increases] the chance of catching a submarine by minimizing the time from its last point of detection…. There are currently two schools of thought in the Maritime Patrol Community right now when it comes to how the P-8 should be used. One where it works closely along the lines of its predecessor, and follows the P-3’s traditional mission sets of ASuW, ASW and limited ISR, and another where the P-8 can be adapted more dramatically for a litany of missions, including direct attack on ground targets. Personally, I believe the P-8A should also be equipped with a more robust set of weapons and sensors for the fight against smaller vessels in constrained littoral environments.”
Finally, the pilot bemoans the removal of aerial tanker roles from the P-8 MMA’s original vision, which could have tied each squadron to a carrier air wing during deployment phases:
“When a carrier would go into flight ops, the P-8A would launch, tank aircraft using drogue and hose buddy stores, conduct a surveillance flight around the carrier, tank during recovery, and then return to base…. A great idea withered on the vine because of shortsighted petty inter-service politics [from the USAF]”.
A pilot’s view
July 2/14: Delivery #14. Boeing announces delivery of their 14th P-8A Poseidon aircraft on schedule, to NAS Jacksonville, FL. So far, the US Navy has ordered 53, and Boeing will deliver 7 more this year. Sources: Boeing, “Boeing, U.S. Navy Expand P-8A Maritime Patrol Fleet with 14th Delivery”.
June 25/14: Increment 3. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $14.9 million delivery order for P-8A Poseidon Increment 3 Interface Development. $3.3 million is committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy R&D budgets.
They’re referring to technical interfaces here, not display screens, and the order involves test beds which can be used to verify that new additions are compatible: 2 Mission Systems Emulation Environment (MSEE) units with all required hardware, Tactical Open Mission software with P-8 baseline architecture interface data exposure modifications, interface adapter computer software configuration items, and P-8A real-time simulator with interactive warfare simulator. In addition, this order includes the development, documentation, and delivery of hardware and software updates for 4 existing MSEE units.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA, and is expected to be complete in September 2016. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity (N00019-11-G-0001, DO 3051).
June 17/14: JSTARS Recap. The USAF is looking at options for recapitalizing JSTARS, with Initial Operating Capability of 4 planes by 2022, in order to counter escalating operations and maintenance costs. The planes need to accomodate about 13 crew and a 13′ – 20′ radar, stay on station for 8 hours with aerial refueling capability for more, and reach 38,000 feet. The USAF plans to ask for $2.4 billion over the next 5 years, but the dollars don’t really exist to launch another major USAF program. Hence USAF JSTARS recapitalization branch chief Lt. Col. Michael Harm:
“With the completion of the 2011 JSTARS mission area analysis of alternatives study and the onset of Budget Control Act-directed budget levels, it became clear that the future of the JSTARS weapons system lay in a more cost-effective platform as compared to extending the lifecycle of the current 707 airframes.” ….The Air Force is currently drafting requirements for the program, which will be finalized by early 2015, Harm said. In order to keep the system affordable, it plans on using commercial, off-the-shelf equipment and minimizing new technology development.”
Boeing is expected to enter its P-8, which is already configured for the mission and the above requirements once the LSR radar is added. Added costs would be limited to expansion of communications links and software development, and Navy commonality would be a big plus.
Raytheon’s Sentinel R1 already serves in the JSTARS role with Britain’s RAF, and the smaller Bombardier jet needs ongoing system and software development to reach its full potential. Operating costs would be lower, expanding the current USA-UK Airseeker RC-135V Rivet Joint ELINT/SIGINT partnership to encompass Sentinel R1s is a thinkable option, and Bombardier can lean on Raytheon and/or its Learjet subsidiary as the American lead. Aerial refueling might be the issue, given Sentinel’s configuration and the USAF’s insistence on dorsal boom refueling.
Gulfstream is looking to do something similar by partnering up and offer either the G550, which is already in use by Israel and its customers in AEW&C (CAEW) or ELINT/SIGINT (SEMA) variants, or the longer-range G650. They say that the’ve done the design work for aerial refueling, but haven’t had a customer take them up on it yet. E-8 JSTARS lead Northrop Grumman, who led the canceled E-10A program but retains key technologies, is a very logical partnering choice. With that said, Lockheed Martin has their own expertise to offer, and their Dragon Star ISR aircraft-for-lease is a Gulfstream.
The USA’s default option, of course, is to do nothing. The E-8C fleet would then become vulnerable to future USAF fleet-sized cuts. Meanwhile the P-8As would field in the Navy and informally take over some of the JSTARS role, alongside USAF UAVs like RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 40 and its EQ-4 BACN counterpart. Sources: NDIA National Defense, “Industry Ready to Compete for JSTARS Recapitalization Program”.
June 5/14: Testing. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $28.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for the design, development, fabrication, installation and testing of airworthiness flight test equipment. The challenge is to correctly predict that something might go wrong in future.
Work will be performed in Patuxent River, MD (58%); Seattle, WA (34%); and Huntsville, AL (8%), and is expected to be complete in December 2016 (N00019-04-C-3146).
June 4/14: Basing. At the close of the Environmental Impact Study, the US Navy has decided to consolidate P-8A basing. NAS Jacksonville, FL will have 6 squadrons plus the “fleet replacement” training squadron, while NAS Whidbey Island, WA will have the other 6 squadrons. There will be a permanent rotating squadron detachment at Hawaii Marine Corps Base, and periodic squadron detachments to Corondo Naval Base, CA near San Diego.
This effectively means that Jacksonville won, getting 7 squadrons instead of 5, and is less than the 8 Whidbey squadrons being touted earlier (q.v. May 3/13). That doesn’t stop House Armed Services Committee and Electronic Warfare Working group member Rick Larsen [D-WA-2] from claiming credit, though. In full fairness to the Congressman, it’s a better than the initial plan for 4 squadrons, just a climbdown from expectations since the Pentagon decided to concentrate on 2 operating bases. Sources: Rick Larsen’s office, “Larsen: Navy P-8A Decision Great for NASWI, National Security”.
May 12/14: FRP-1. Raytheon in McKinney, TX receives a $50.1 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, exercising an option for 16 APY-10 radar kits that will be installed in FY 2014’s Full Rate Production Lot I P-8As. It also covers installation and checkout technical support, configuration management, reliability and maintainability failure reporting and corrective actions, engineering change orders/proposals, integrated logistics support, technical data, and repairs.
All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 Navy aircraft budgets. Work will be performed in McKinney, TX (53.38%), Reston, VA (8.35%); Little Falls, NJ (7.78%); Spring Valley, CA (6.51%); Black Mountain, NC (4.24%); Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada (2.73%); Poway, CA (2.50%); Simsbury, CT (2.43%); Leesburg, VA (2.33%), and various locations throughout the United States (9.75%), and is expected to be complete in November 2016 (N00019-13-C-0161).
April 24/14: Software. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives an $8.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for P-8A software updates. Mission Software has been a problem for the plane so far (q.v. Jan 23/14 etc.).
All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 Navy aircraft and maintenance budgets. Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (27.6%); Huntington Beach, CA (18.9%); McKinney, TX (18.4%); Grand Rapids, MI (13.4%); Baltimore, MD (7.8%); Rolling Meadows, IL (4.2%); El Segundo, CA (3.9%); Farmingdale, NY (3%); St. Louis, MO (1.5%); and Amityville, NY (1.3%), and is expected to be complete in August 2015 (N00019-11-G-0001, DO 3008).
April 17/14: SAR. The Pentagon finally releases its Dec 31/13 Selected Acquisitions Report [PDF]. The P-8A’s costs have dropped, mostly because they’re ordering 8 fewer planes:
“Program costs decreased $1,865.8 million (-5.4%) from 34,395.0 million to $33,069.2 million, due primarily to a decrease of 8 [production] aircraft from 117 to 109 (-$1,560.4 million) and a revised estimating methodology for labor hours and rates and adjustments to commercial aircraft pricing (-$548.0 million). There were additional decreases for revised escalation indices (-$255.8 million) and reduced estimates for business base benefits created by the Royal Australian Air Force aircraft procurement (-$184.8 million). These decreases were partially offset by increases in other support due to updated actuals and a revised interim support strategy (+$289.1 million), revised estimates to reflect the application of outyear escalation indices (+$136.0 million), and a net stretch-out of the procurement buy profile (+$121.7 million).”
April 14/14: LSRS/AAS. Aviation photographer Russell Hill takes pictures of a P-8A at Boeing Field in Seattle, with the canoe-shaped LSRS double-sided ground-looking AESA radar beneath. This bit from Foxtrot Alpha was interesting:
“With this in mind, compartmentalizing [and classifying] the program deep within the Navy may have saved it from being shot down via the [USAF] who would protect their existing, even if potentially inferior, ground moving target indicator mission at all costs. Although some of this is speculative, this same story has come up again and again, both in the press and in my own discussions with people associated with the communities that deployed and developed the LSRS.”
Foxtrot Alpha elaborates on the uses of this system, from tracking targets down to human size, to targeting weapons from its own stores or other platforms via datalink updates, to damage assessments. Can these capabilities be extended to add cruise missile detection and electronic warfare? Even if not, the author is correct in pointing to the E-8C JSTARS overlap. With the JSTARS fleet set to receive only minimal upgrades, we would be equally unsurprised if the P-8 ends up taking over this role. Sources: Foxtrot Alpha, “Exclusive: P-8 Poseidon Flies With Shadowy Radar System Attached”.
April 8/14: MSA. Boeing is targeting P-3 operators for their Challenger MSA, which means they’ll be competing with themselves to some extent. Their Canadian partner Field Aviation adds weight to that by touting future options including SATCOM, side looking airborne radar, and even weapons on wing hardpoints. That last change would sharply narrow the difference between the P-8A and Challenger MSA.
Base MSA equipment will include Selex ES Seaspray 7300 maritime surveillance radar, and FLIR Systems Star Safire 380 day/night surveillance turret. That creates a high-end product for Coast Guards as well as a mid-range product for militaries. The question comes down to customers, and Boeing is reportedly targeting “20 to 30” within a total market space of around $10 billion. As one looks at the list, however, one sees a number of countries within the P-3 customer base who won’t become customers soon, if ever: Australia (P-8 & UAV), Japan (home-built P-1), Brazil (will pick Embraer’s), Canada (P-3 LEX), Chile (C295 MPAs), New Zealand (P-3 LEX), Norway (P-3 LEX), Pakistan (P-3 LEX), Portugal (P-3 LEX & C295 MPAs), Spain (C295 MPA home), and Taiwan (P-3 LEX). As a quick sort, that leaves Argentina, Germany, and South Korea as likely targets before 2025 or so, with possibilities in Chile and Spain as unlikely.
Of course, the same sort reveals that the P-8A itself may have a bit of a long slog for exports, unless it can open markets that the P-3 didn’t reach. Sources: Flight Global, “Boeing to target current P-3 operators for MSA sales”.
March 31/14: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2013, plus time to compile and publish. Changes to the Program Dashboard are reflected in the article. Most of the rest isn’t anything new, though they note that the sonobuoy launcher has experienced testing problems and is still receiving fixes.
On the good news front, GAO cites Boeing’s use of more pre-acceptance flights, which helped resolve more issues before formal acceptance. With that said, the P-8 still seems to have plenty.
Over the longer term, Increment 3 plans to give the plane a more open electronic architecture for faster integration of new components. The program plans a full and open competition for the Increment 3 system architecture contracts, and intends to buy the intellectual property rights as well.
March 5/14: MSA. Well, that was fast. Boeing’s Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) derivative based on the Challenger 605 business jet (q.v. Nov 19/13) recently completed its 1st flight, a 4-hour test that took off from Toronto, Canada’s Pearson International Airport. Boeing’s partner Field Aviation needed to establish that aerodynamic performance met predictions, and that it handled like a regular model even with the radome and other modifications.
Additional airworthiness flights are scheduled for the next 2 months, after which the MSA will fly to a Boeing facility in Seattle for mission system installation and testing. Here’s hoping they can work out some of the myriad bugs in the base P-8 mission system before that happens. Sources: Boeing, “Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Demonstrator Completes 1st Flight”.
March 4-11/14: FY15 Budget. The USN unveils their preliminary budget request briefings. They aren’t precise, but they do offer planned purchase numbers for key programs. Full numbers follow days later, and are plotted in the charts above. In the P-8A’s case, however, the numbers may mislead.
After buying 16 P-8As in FY 2014 to begin Full Rate Production, the FY 2015 request drops to just 8 (-8 from plan), before the long term plan bounces back to 15 (-1), 13 (-1), 13 (+3), and 7 (+7) planes from FY 2016 – 2019. Note the trick. While stating that the FY15 cut “was necessary to comply with affordability constraints,” the buys are shifted several years into the future, as if the same dilemmas won’t recur. But the same hard choices must be made, when the time comes.
The missing 8 aircraft are found in a separate $26B wish list that is far from certain to get traction in Congress, and the number of flaws in the P-8A could actually make a FY 2015 order cut attractive. It would reduce the number of retrofits required to correct problems with initial aircraft, and move more planes beyond the point at which Increment 2 is likely to be ready. The 737 production line isn’t going anywhere, which gives the Navy the luxury of industrial time. On the other hand, the Navy may not have the same luxury of budgetary time, as future buys must take place with F-35B/C fighter production ramped up, and programs like SSBN-X beginning to bite.
With fewer ships on hand, assets like the P-8 are becoming more important to sea control, playing roles once reserved for sailing frigates. The question is whether the US Navy values that enough, compared to other options like destroyers. They’ve seemed very ready to cut similar assets from even well-performing programs like the E-2D AWACS, and the P-8’s MQ-4 Triton UAV companion is seeing a medium-term procurement slowdown of its own. Sources: USN, PB15 Press Briefing [PDF].
Feb 25/14: FRP-1. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $2.07 billion firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising options for Full Rate Production (q.v. Jan 3/14) Lot 1: 16 P-8As, and 16 Ancillary Mission Equipment kits for the US Navy. Subsequent orders under FRP-1 include:
$50.1 million APY-10 radars (May 12/14) $26.9 million DMS re-design (Nov 20/13)
All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 Navy aircraft budgets. Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (78.4%); Baltimore, MD (4.7%); Greenlawn, NY (2.4%); Cambridge, United Kingdom (1.6%); Rockford, IL (1.1%); North Amityville, NY (1%), and miscellaneous locations throughout the continental United States (10.8%), and is expected to be complete in April 2017 (N00019-12-C-0112).
FRP Lot 1
Feb 21/14: Australia commits. The Australian government gives 2nd pass approval for AIR 7000 Phase 2B, and sets A$ 4 billion as the budget for 8 P-8As and infrastructure. An option for 4 more could be exercised, depending on the forthcoming Defence White Paper review’s conclusions. This isn’t a contract, but one is expected to follow soon.
The planes will be based at RAAFB Edinburgh near Adelaide, in southern Australia, and the program’s A$ 4 billion cost includes new basing, infrastructure, and support facilities. Australia’s 1st P-8A is expected in 2017, with all 8 aircraft fully operational by 2021. The P-8s will perform their work “with high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles,” which are expected to be Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Tritons, but Australia hasn’t formally made its UAV decision yet.
As has so often been the case in the region lately, China is the gift that keeps on giving for American defense contractors. In early February, China sent guided missile destroyers Wuhan and Haikou, the 20,000t landing ship Changbaishan, and a submarine escort through the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. That forced an Australian AP-3C to scramble north to observe their combat simulations, and created pressure on Australia to offer a timely response. Which may help explain why this announcement was made by Prime Minister Abbott himself. Sources: Australian DoD, “P-8A Poseidon Aircraft to boost Australia’s maritime surveillance capabilities” | Australian Aviation, “Govt approves RAAF P-8 acquisition” | The Australian, “RAAF to get eight new Poseidon ocean patrol planes in $4bn deal” || The Lowy Interpreter, “China makes statement as it sends naval ships off Australia’s maritime approaches” | The Diplomat, “Australia Startled by Chinese Naval Excursion” | NZ Herald News, “China warships in Pacific raise alarm” | The Hindu, “New Indian Ocean exercise shows reach of China’s Navy” | China’s CCTV, “Combat vessels training for quick response in electronic war”.
Feb 18/14: Crunch! A 550-foot-long hangar near Naval Air Facility Atsugi collapses, following 21″ of snow in the past week and 35″ over the past month. Washington D.C. residents are nodding grimly in recognition, with visions of roof shoveling dancing in their heads.
The good news is that the recently arrived P-8s are fine, because the facility was an old Kawasaki Heavy Industries Group/ NPPI repair hangar for US and Japanese aircraft, and the P-8s don’t need much of that. The bad news is that at least 4 US Navy P-3C planes were in the hangar, and 3 of them ended up being damaged beyond repair. There’s no immediate word on Japanese aircraft casualties, and cleanup is still underway.
This will give the P-8As much more to do in the near term, while the US Navy figures out how to restore surveillance levels over the medium term. Sources: Stars and Stripes, “Navy Orions likely damaged in hangar collapse”.
Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The P-8’s core issues have been covered via advance leaks, but this passage in the report is especially notable, and had not been reported:
“I provided a specific example of the former case to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I found that the P-8A Multi-Mission Maritime Patrol Aircraft could be fully compliant with all Key Performance Parameter (KPP) and Key System Attribute (KSA) threshold requirements, and nonetheless possess significant shortfalls in mission effectiveness. The P-8 requirements define supporting system characteristics or attributes that are necessary, but not nearly sufficient, to ensure mission effectiveness. In an extreme case, the contractor could deliver an aircraft that meets all the KPPs but has no mission capability whatsoever. Such an airplane would only have to be designed to be reliable, equipped with self-protection features and radios, and capable of transporting weapons and sonobuoys across the specified distances, but would not actually have to have the ability to successfully find and sink threat submarines in an Anti-Submarine Warfare mission (its primary mission). The lack of KPPs/KSAs related directly to mission effectiveness will inevitably create a disconnect…”
Other issues surfaced in the full report, but not in the news reports based on early leaks. SAR radar scans of the surface were a known problem, but DOT&E says they are outright ineffective, and that the problems include radar stability and image quality. These and other gaps give the P-8A Increment I limited effectiveness against “evasive targets attempting to limit exposure to detection by radar and other sensors,” and Mk 54 torpedo limitations add to the platform’s problems in those scenarios. Likewise, the ESM/ELINT system’s deficiencies were known before, but not the fact that “signal identification capabilities are limited [to a narrow level] by ESM signature library-size constraints.” There are problems with interoperability of the communications systems, including the International Maritime Satellite, Common Data Link, and voice satellite systems. Finally, the EWSP defensive system doesn’t offer protection or even warning against radar-guided threats, which include the most likely missiles an enemy fighter might launch at the aircraft.
The report did concede that the P-8A “unarmed ASuW maritime surface target search, classification, track, and cue-to-attack capabilities are equivalent to P-3C capabilities.” On the good news front, there’s the reliability numbers: an on-time take-off rate of 93.6%, and airborne mission abort rate of only 1.6%, both well above operational requirements. The catch is that the mission system has a lot of software faults, which get in the way during missions and need to be fixed.
Work on new capabilities continues. AGM-84 IC Harpoon anti-ship missile testing has begun, but full weapon tests won’t happen until FY 2014. Detection problems are expected to be addressed in Increment 2 with the fielding of the Multi-Static Active Coherent (MAC) system of sonobuoys, and HAASW GPS-guided kits in that increment may offer improved torpedo options against evasive targets, beginning around 2016. Increment 3, to be fielded around 2019, will improve sensor capabilities and the mission system architecture. That’s a good focus, and the level of problems in both areas will demand a lot of extra work before that increment even begins.
Jan 23/14: Testing. Bloomberg News reports that an unreleased copy of the Pentagon’s annual DOT&E report isn’t positive for the P-8A. DOT&E chief Michael Gilmore reports that the P-8 still exhibits “all of the major deficiencies” identified in last year’s report, and is “not effective [DID: does not meet stated criteria] for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission and is not effective for wide area anti-submarine search”.
To review, DOT&E’s FY 2012 annual report (q.v. Jan 17/13) focused on the P-8 sensors’ ability to work as advertised, and to work together. The main radar has track-while-scan deficiencies, problems with high-resolution image quality, radar pointing errors that were especially troublesome over land and in littoral regions, and cross-cue errors with the MX-20HD surveillance turret. The MX-20HD itself had issues with auto-track integration, and interference was making it hard for the AN/ALQ-240(V)1 ESM systems to accurately pinpoint radars and communications sources around the plane.
On the one hand, this is not an adequate standard for a platform that the US Navy has declared as an Initial Operational Capability. On the other hand, these problems don’t make deployment to Japan stupid. Current P-8As may not match up to modernized P-3C Orion SMIP capabilities, but they do offer better availability, and can cover a bigger area. USN Lt Caroline Hutcheson says the P-8s “fully met” the criteria for “effective” patrols, and real-world experience in Asia is a good way of both training the P-8 crews and clarifying the aircraft’s problems. You can bet that it will also train American and Japanese fighter crews, who are likely to be close at hand whenever and wherever the P-8s fly. Sources: Bloomberg, “Boeing Surveillance Plane Found Not Effective for Mission”.
Jan 17/14: Support. Northrop Grumman Systems Electronics Sector in Baltimore, MD receives a $33 million cost-plus-fixed-fee completion job order to design and build AN/ALQ 240 ESM operational test program sets, and stand up a repair depot at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN. ESM detects coherent electro-magnetic emissions and backtracks them to their point of origin, allowing it to pinpoint enemy communications, radars, etc.
All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 aircraft budgets. Work will be performed in Linthicum, MD, and the contract will run until September 2019. The US Navy Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN manages the contract (N00164-13-G-WT15).
Jan 3/14: NAVAIR PMA-290 receives approval to enter P-8 Full Rate Production from the Milestone Decision Authority. Note that NAVAIR’s date for the release is Jan 17/14, but it didn’t appear on the site until Jan 24/14. Poor form, that. Sources: US NAVAIR, “P-8A aircraft gets green light to enter full rate production”.
Dec 23/13: LRIP-4. A $6.8 million fixed-price-incentive-firm contract modification to buy initial spares for the 8 P-8A aircraft in LRIP Lot IV.
All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 aircraft budgets. Work will be performed in Grand Rapids, MI (24.9%); Torrance, CA (18.8%); Greenlawn, NY (15%); Irvine, CA (14.5%); Freeland, WA (8.5%); Avenel, NJ (5.2%); Rockford, IL (3.3%); Wilson, NC (3.1%); Manfield, OH (2.8%); Rochester, NY (1.8%); West Chester, OH (1.5%); Sarasota, FL (0.5%), and Wichita, KS (0.1%). Work is expected to be complete in April 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-12-C-0112).
Dec 4/13: #13. Boeing delivers the 13th production P-8A ahead of schedule to NAS Jacksonville, FL, marking a perfect on-time record for the year. This is the last of the LRIP-2 aircraft, and LRIP Lot 3 planes will begin delivery in 2014. So far, Boeing has received 4 LRIP contracts for a total of 37 aircraft. Sources: Boeing, “Boeing Delivers 13th P-8A Poseidon to US Navy”.
Nov 29/13: IOC & Deployment. The inaugural operational deployment of the P-8A Poseidon begins, as the VP-16 War Eagles squadron leaves NAS Jacksonville, FL, for Kadena AB in Okinawa, Japan. VP-16’s final P-3C Orion deployment ended in June 2012, and their transition to the new P-8A finished in January 2016.
As the first 2 P-8s took flight to Japan, the US Navy declared Initial Operational Capability for the P-8A. Squadron VP-5 has completed their P-8 transition, and VP-45 began the shift away from the P-3C this summer, after returning from deployment. Meanwhile, the VP-30 FRS and the Integrated Training Center continue to qualify crew members ad replacement personnel. Sources: USN, “P-8A Aircraft Program Achieves Initial Operational Capability” | US NAVAIR, “P-8A: Road to deployment” | Defense News, “Poseidon’s inaugural deployment starts Friday”.
IOC, 1st official deployment
Nov 20/13: Support. Boeing in Seattle WA receives a $10.2 million firm-fixed-price requirements contract to repair 559 different P-8A items on an as-needed basis.
Work will be performed in Dallas, TX and is expected to be complete by Sept 30/15. This sole source contract was not competitively procured, in accordance with FAR 6.302-1, by NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-14-D-006F).
Nov 20/13: FRP-1. Boeing in Seattle WA receives a $26.9 million to a fixed-price-incentive-firm contract modification, exercising an option for diminishing manufacturing sources re-design in support of P-8A Full Rate Production Lot I.
All funds are committed immediately. Work will be performed in Seattle, WA, and is expected to be complete in April 2017 (N00019-12-C-0112).
Nov 19/13: Challenger MSA. Boeing knows that its 737-based P-8 Poseidon sea control jet may be a bit too much plane for some customers. While the P-8A preps its flight display at the 2013 Dubai airshow, Boeing confirms a long-standing rumor by teaming up with Canada’s Bombardier to offer a surveillance-only Challenger 605 MSA with equal or better endurance and range, a lower purchase price, and lower operating costs. It’s kind of amusing to do this at a venue where some of your booth visitors have larger and more expensive planes than the P-8 in their private hangars, but Dubai’s exhibition draws from a wide geographic area.
The Challenger 605 large business jet’s base range of 4,000 nmi/ 7,408 km is better than the 737-800’s, and its wide cabin is well suited to special mission crews and equipment. It’s believed that the plane will carry the same core mission system as the P-8A, as well as some common sensors, but space considerations are likely to force some sensor downgrades with respect to items like radars, magnetic anomaly detection, etc. Canada’s Field Aviation is currently modifying a Bombardier Challenger 604 jet, and expects to hand it over for initial testing and presentation to potential customers in 2014. Sources: Bombardier, Challenger 605 | Boeing, Nov 19/13 release | Pentagon DVIDS, “DOD supports 2013 Dubai Airshow [Image 1 of 15]”.
Oct 28/13: Increment 3 ABA TD RFP. NAVAIR released its finalized RFP for the P-8A Increment 3 Applications Based Architecture (ABA) development, which will lead to the delivery of 2 prototypes. 2 awards for these ABA TD contracts are expected to be worth about $20 million each. By the EMD phase there will be a single award, but this will be a full and open competition rather than a downselect from the winners of this RFP. The deadline for offers is January 9, 2014. N00019-13-R-0045.
Increment 3 Initial Operational Capability was scheduled to Q1 FY20 as of the March 2013 industry briefing [PDF], which also gives a sense of the requirements scope.
Oct 28/13: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $99.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to add a Maintenance Training Device Suite (MTDS, with 6 Virtual Maintenance Trainer Devices and 14 Hardware Type II devices) and an Ordnance Load Trainer into P-8A LRIP-2.
All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2012 procurement funds. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2012 procurement funds. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (45%); Orlando, FL (25%); Whidbey Island, WA (15%); Huntington Beach, CA (10%); and Jacksonville, FL (5%). Work is expected to be complete in June 2016 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Oct 25/13: Training. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $26.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to incorporate the recent Test Release 21.1 block software upgrade on 8 operational flight trainers, 6 weapons tactics trainers, 3 part task trainers, and 44 mission system desktop trainers. It’s listed as being “in support of the P-8A LRIP-2,” but it’s really a service to the entire fleet, based on upgrades to current configuration.
All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2012 procurement funds. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (81%); Huntington Beach, CA (8%); Tampa, FL (8%); Seattle, WA (2%); and Hauppauge, NY (1%), and is expected to be complete in October 2015 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Australia reaffirms commitment; Initial P-8i delivery; USN revising basing plans?; DOT&E highlights sensor issues; An all-737 US ISR fleet?; China’s hacks include the P-8A.
Sept 30/13: APY-10. Raytheon in McKinney, TX, is being awarded a $29.5 million firm-fixed-price contract to stand up an APY-10 organic depot maintenance facility. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2011 and 2013 aircraft procurement budgets, and contract options could bring the aggregate total to $39.1 million.
Work will be performed at the Fleet Readiness Center South East, Jacksonville, FL, and is expected to be completed by March 31/16. $22.1 million in FY 2011 funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, today. The buy was sole sourced in accordance 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1) by the US Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center in Jacksonville, FL (N68836-13-C-0071).
Sept 24/13: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $225 million fixed-price-incentive-firm contract modification for 6 P-8A Poseidon OFT (operational flight trainers), 6 WTT (weapons tactics trainers), 2 part task trainers, 1 training systems support center, 3 10-seat electronic classrooms, and a 20-seat electronic classroom. All finds are committed immediately.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (30.4%); Tampa, FL (21.3%); Whidbey Island, WA (15.2%); Huntington Beach, CA (5.9%); San Francisco, CA (4.2%); Long Island, NY (2%); Tulsa, OK (1.9%); Jacksonville, FL (0.9%); and various locations throughout the United States (18.2%); and is expected to be complete in March 2018 (N00019-12-C-0112).
Sept 24/13: LRIP-4. Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in McKinney, TX receives a $48.8 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for 14 APY-10 radar kits, as part of the P-8’s LRIP-4 aircraft buy: 13 production, plus 1 spare. Raytheon will also provide a number of services: installation and checkout, technical support, configuration management, reliability and maintainability failure reporting and corrective actions, engineering change orders/proposals, integrated logistics support, interim contractor support, technical data, and repair of repairables. All funds are committed immediately, and see July 31/13 entry for LRIP-4 totals.
Work will be performed in McKinney, TX (99%) and Seattle, WA (1%), and is expected to be complete in January 2016. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302.1, since Raytheon makes the radar (N00019-13-C-0161).
Sept 19/13: LRIP-4 Support. Small business qualifier XTRA Aerospace in Miramar, FL receives a $16 million firm-fixed-price contract for Boeing 737 commercial spare parts, to support LRIP-4’s P-8As (q.v. July 31/13 for totals). There’s certainly a large pool of 737s and associated spares flying all over the world. All funds are committed immediately.
Work will be performed in Miramar, FL and is expected to be complete in December 2016. This contract was competitively procured via electronic request for proposals, with 3 offers received by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-13-C-0147).
Sept 18/13: LRIP-4. A $172.3 million fixed-price-incentive-firm contract modification for product services in support of the 13 LRIP-4 P-8As. They’ll provide spares & logistics support; interim contractor support; support equipment; and change technical publications as the aircraft change. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2011 and 2013 procurement budgets, and $30.1 million will expire on Sept 30/13.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (58.79%); Jacksonville, FL (11.47%); Valencia, CA (5.59%); Linthicum, MD (5.4%); Greenlawn, NY (3.21%); Salt Lake City, UT (1.28%); St. Peters, MO (1.82%); Carson, CA (0.83%); Camden, NJ (0.75%); Mesa, AZ (0.75%); Middlesex, United Kingdom (0.74%); Torrance, CA (0.59%); Mississuaga, Ontario, Canada (0.59%); Rancho Santa Margarita, CA (0.52%); and other various inside the United States (7.63%) and outside the United States locations (0.04%) (N00019-12-C-0112).
Sept 6/13: Increment 3. Small business qualifier Progeny Systems Corp. in Manassas, VA receives a $8.3 million to begin developing a software architecture for P-8A Increment 3. Technically, this is a cost-plus-fixed-fee Small Business Innovation Research Phase III contract under Topic N121-045, “Maritime Airborne Service Oriented Architecture Integration.” Phase III contracts are the last stage before commercialization, and this project will finish a service oriented engineering development model for increment 3, along with source code and a Unified Modeling Language (UML) model. All funds are committed immediately, using the FY 2012 RDT&E budget.
Now, let’s unpack that into English.
Software has become a larger and more important component of advanced weapon systems – just as it has in your washing machine. The corollary is that technical and software architecture have a bigger and bigger influence on reliability, maintenance costs, and upgrade costs. The P-8 has a lot of sensors and software, and they need an architecture that lets them all work together even if the individual components change. “Service oriented” means that key capabilities are provided as unified infrastructure, which can be called by programs that may not have many other commonalities. Google Maps, which has been incorporated wholesale into a number of 1st responder applications, is a well-known example of a (web-based) service. At the tools level, UML is a way of modeling the flow and function of software without writing code. That makes quick, iterative changes a lot cheaper. Some UML tools can take the created model, and produce an initial code set that will follow those directions. It’s not an end point, because programmers still need to adjust the code for efficiency and other goals, but it’s a good start that can assist rapid prototyping.
Work will be performed in Manassas, VA, and is expected to be complete in September 2015. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-5 by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (N68335-13-G-0001).
July 31/13: LRIP-4. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $2.042 billion fixed-price-incentive-firm contract modification for LRIP Lot 4: 13 P-8As, and 13 ancillary mission equipment kits. It also orders 1 lot of diminishing manufacturing sources parts and long-lead parts associated with next year’s order: 16 P-8As under Full-Rate Production Lot I.
Total spending on LRIP-4 is $2.279 billion, or $175.3 million per plane, and consists of the following awards:
$48.8 million APY-10 radars (Sept 24/13) $16 million commercial 737 spares (Sept 19/13) $172.3 million support (Sept 18/13) $2.042 billion base
All funds are committed immediately. Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (78.4%); Baltimore, MD (4.7%); Greenlawn, NY (2.4%); Cambridge, United Kingdom (1.6%); Rockford, IL (1.1%); North Amityville, NY (1%); and other various locations inside and outside of the United States (10.8%) (N00019-12-C-0112). See also: US NAVAIR | Boeing.
LRIP Lot 4
July 10/13: Australia. A DSCA request for Mk-54 torpedoes confirms the seriousness of Australia’s interest in the P-8A, as the DSCA says:
“Australia will use the MK 54 torpedo on its MH-60R helicopters and intends to use the torpedo on a planned purchase of the P-8A Increment 2 Maritime Patrol and Response aircraft.”
July 8/13: IOT&E done. NAVAIR announces that a July 1/13 Initial Operational Test and Evaluation report found the P-8A “operationally effective, operationally suitable, and ready for fleet introduction.” That keeps the program on track for Operational Evaluation and an initial deployment this winter, when the first P-8A squadron will deploy with P-3 and EP-3 squadrons.
Deliveries to date include 15 aircraft: 6 test aircraft for NAVAIR, and 9 initial production planes to the fleet.
June 24/13: Testing. One of NAVAIR’s P-8A test aircraft serving in VX-20 successfully fires an AGM-84D Block IC Harpoon anti-ship missile, which scores a direct hit on the Low Cost Modular Target’s fabric. The Point Mugu Sea Test Range firing is the 1st live Harpoon firing by a P-8. US NAVAIR.
May 31/13: Hacked. The P-8A program is listed as one of several programs that leaked design data to Chinese hackers. Given the P-8’s critical role in the Pacific, and with Pacific allies like Australia and India, this is not a good development.
The leaks are damaging. The question is “how damaging?” All parties are remaining close-lipped about that, though reports show that a number of key P-8 sensors and sensor integration functions aren’t fully effective yet. Even a massive P-8 breach may be closer in scope to the Silicon Valley practice of filing early patents, so they don’t have to reveal subsequently-refined elements of the final working product.
On the flip side, even marginal help in developing their next generation of maritime patrol planes is valuable to the Chinese. Existing maritime patrol planes are based on the old Y-8 four-engine turboprop, but Chinese firms are busy assembling similar A320 family passenger jets in country for Airbus, and intend to design their own narrowbody competitor. China also has direct military experience with the 737, after converting 3 to become military command post aircraft. Washington Post WorldViews | Washington Post.
May 30/13: LRIP-3. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $53.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for spares in support of the LRIP Lot 3 (q.v. Sept 21/12), which will build 11 P-8As. This brings total P-8A LRIP-3 contracts to $2.263 billion.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (60.80%); Linthicum, MD (14.89%); McKinney, TX (6.44%); Valencia, CA (4.85%); Huntington Beach, CA (3.47%); Mesa, Ariz. (2.22%); Salt Lake City, UT (1.10%); Johnson City, NY (0.95%); Huntington, NY (0.84%); Grand Rapids, MI (0.57%); Richmond, CA (0.50%) and various locations throughout the United States (3.37%), and is expected to be complete in June 2016. All funds are committed immediately (N00019-09-C-0022).
May 7/13: Support. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $14.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for interim P-8A support. All funds are committed immediately.
Work will be performed in Dallas, TX (56%) and Seattle, WA (44%); and is expected to be complete in November 2013 (N00019-09-C-0022, PO 0076).
May 3/13: Basing. Rep. Rick Larsen [D-WA-2] emerged from a meeting about the US Navy strategic plan for 2013 – 2030, and promptly told local media that NAS Whidbey Island would be getting 49 planes (8 squadrons), instead of the 24 aircraft (4 squadrons) based there under the original plan. The first 2 P-8A squadrons arrive at NAS Whidbey in 2015, a 3rd will follow in 2016, Squadrons #4-6 arrive in 2017, and the 7th and last squadron arrives in 2018.
The Navy had been considering new basing plans (vid. Nov 14/12), and Larsen’s disclosure indicates that they’ve chosen “Alternative 2”: 49 planes in Whidbey Island, WA; 47 in NAS Jacksonville, FL; and just 2 in MCB Hawaii Kaneohe Bay. The big loser is obviously Hawaii, which lost 16 of the 18 P-8s that were supposed to be based there for wide-ranging coverage of the Pacific.
Whidbey’s P-8s are deployable planes, but the crews’ families will be in Washington State, and so will more advanced maintenance and support. Whidbey News Times.
April 29/13: LRIP-3 Training. A $21.5 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to upgrade the Training System Support Center for P-8A LRIP Lot 3, including tooling and data for the Weapons Tactics Trainer. All funds are committed immediately, and $21.1 million will expire at the end of the fiscal year, on Sept 30/13.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in August 2016 (N00019-09-C-0022).
April 17/13: P-8i. India’s P-8i completes flight testing, which included dropping Mk.82 500 pound unguided bombs. Printed materials describe them as “depth bombs” (anti-submarine depth charges), but it’s also true that the addition of an inexpensive Boeing kit could convert Mk.82 bombs to GPS-guided JDAMs, or even JDAM-ER glide bombs with extended range. Time will tell whether the P-8 family capabilities expand in this direction. Boeing feature, incl. video | Boeing Frontiers magazine.
April 10/13: FY 2014 Budget. The President releases a proposed budget at last, the latest in modern memory. The Senate and House were already working on budgets in his absence, but the Pentagon’s submission is actually important to proceedings going forward. See ongoing DID coverage.
The US Navy is clearly focused on cash flow rather than total costs, and the P-8A joins other programs that will pay more long-term, in order to pay less per year in the near term. The FY 2014 budget subtracts 9 P-8As from FY 2014-2016, while adding 11 from FY 2017-2018. The procurement difference is around $1.3 billion, but the value of the 2 added planes means the Navy is paying about $800 million more on an even comparison. Assuming the Navy actually sticks to this new plan through 2018, rather than making further cuts.
April 3/13: HAAWC. Boeing in St. Charles, MO wins a $19.2 million combination cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-fixed-price-incentive, firm-fixed-price contract to design and build HAAWC (High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability) kits for lightweight torpedoes. HAAWC is its own effort, but it’s also arguably the most important improvement slated for P-8A Increment 2 aircraft (q.v. Feb 18/13, for changes to the planes). Boeing will build on their experience with JDAM GPS guidance and GBU-39 SDB-I wing kits, in order to create a strap-on kit that adds precision guidance and long glide ranges to existing lightweight torpedoes.
$14.2 million is committed immediately, and $9.8 million of that will expire at the end of the fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. The contract includes options that could raise its value to $47 million.
Work is expected to be completed by April 2016. This contract was competitively procured with proposals solicited via FedBizOpps, and 3 offers were received by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-13-C-6402). See also Boeing.
March 28/13: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2012, plus time to compile and publish. The P-8A is generally proceeding well, and Boeing has come to an agreement over limited release of commercially-sensitive pricing information:
“According to program officials, the P-8A has reduced the unit cost of the aircraft on each of its first three production contracts. To help ensure the price is fair and reasonable, DOD negotiated an agreement with Boeing to provide the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) access to data on select Boeing commercial aircraft procurements. The P-8A airframe has been designated a commercial item, so the contractor is not required to submit cost or pricing data. Officials indicated DCAA did not raise any concerns regarding the reasonableness of aircraft pricing prior to the award of the third production contract.”
March 29/13: #7 delivered. Boeing hands over P-8A #7 to the U.S. Navy on schedule, and it departs for NAS Jacksonville, FL. It’s the 1st delivery from the LRIP-2 order. Boeing.
March 25/13: AAS. Aviation Week reports that Boeing will soon get another fatigue testing contract, this time to test the effects of the canoe-shaped AAS long-range radar fairing. Adding it creates new fatigue stress points, so the S-2 full-scale fatigue-test platform at Boeing will conduct 2 complete AAS mission lifetimes, then a 3rd P-8A mission lifetime without the AAS, followed by a residual-strength test and a tear-down analysis.
This is expected to be a $138 million effort, running through 2017. Boeing has already started flight certification work involving AAS-equipped P-8s (vid. Feb 1/12), and this is a logical next step. The AAS is expected to become operational sometime shortly after P-8A Increment 2, which is expected to be in service around 2016.
March 14/13: Fatigue testing. A $128.4 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification covers engineering labor to perform extended lifetime fatigue testing, teardown, and post-teardown analysis of the P-8A airframe. These tests, and the changes that result, are necessary before the US Navy can set a safe flight hours limit for the airframe. They’re hoping for 150% of the airframe’s specified service life, but the testing will tell. Using a long-serving civilian jet as the base should give the Navy a pretty good starting point, but there are some structural changes in this version, and the usage patterns will be rather different.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (95%), and St. Louis, MO (5%), and is expected to be complete in December 2018. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation, Navy contract funds. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-04-C-3146).
March 8/13: Training. A $12.4 million firm-fixed-price contract modification aims to keep the P-8 simulators in sync with produced aircraft. They’ll update 3 systems to the TR-12 software version, and go through Aircraft Program Revision Records from Block 9.2 to TR-12 to see if they need to add anything else.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2013. All contract funds are committed immediately, and expire at the end of the current fiscal year on Sept 30/13 (N00019-09-C-0022).
March 4/13: Australia. Aviation Week reports that Australia may want more P-8As, at the possible expense of its MQ-4C companion UAVs:
“The RAAF is quietly making a case for 12 Poseidons, arguing that eight would not be enough to cover the vast oceans surrounding the continent. And the unmanned requirement is now described as “up to” seven high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft, potentially reducing Northrop Grumman’s opportunity. At the same time the air force sees an argument for a supplementary drone, possibly the Predator, to take on some of the electronic-intelligence missions that would otherwise fall to the Poseidons and Tritons.”
This is a bit of a head-scratcher. The stated purpose of sustained ocean coverage would be better served by adding another orbit of 3-4 MQ-4Cs (to 10-11), and using the P-8s as more of a fleet overwatch and contact response force. Likewise, it makes little sense to use a different UAV for ELINT/SIGINT collection, especially the slow and shorter-range MQ-9. Rather, one would use the MQ-9s in nearer-shore maritime and EEZ patrols, along the lines of the 2006 Northwest Shelf experiments, in order to free up MQ-4Cs for longer-range expeditions over strategic corridors, and the ELINT/SIGINT mission to which they are so well suited.
Feb 8/13: HAASW. ERAPSCO Inc. in Columbia City, IN receives a $7.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification for engineering and manufacturing development services in support of the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare system. This is actually an Increment 2 upgrade to the new P-8A sea control aircraft. It makes drops more accurate by using a GPS-based algorithm; receives, processes, and stores in-buoy GPS data received from AN/SSQ-53, AN/SSQ-62, and AN/SSQ-101B sonobuoys; and will remotely send commands, and receive and process data from the AN/SSQ-101B’s digital datalink.
Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (52%) and Columbia City, IN (48%), and is expected to be complete in May 2014. $890,000 in FY 2013 Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation, Navy contract funds are committed immediately. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00421-11-D-0029). See also Military Aerospace.
Feb 4/13: #6 delivered. Boeing delivers the 6th production P-8A Poseidon aircraft to the US Navy, successfully completing the first group of LRIP aircraft from the January 2011 contract. Recall, too, that 6 ready-to deploy aircraft is the threshold for Initial Operational Capability. The Navy isn’t quite there yet.
P-8As #7-9 are undergoing mission systems installation and checkout at Boeing Field in Seattle, WA, and #7 will be delivered to the USN later this quarter. P-8As #10 and #11 are in final assembly on the 737 production line in Renton, WA. Boeing.
Jan 31/13: Support. Boeing receives a $19.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to buy additional P-8A equipment adaptors, support equipment, and technical publications.
Work will be performed in Dallas, TX (70.8%); Seattle, WA (15.7%); St. Peters, MO (10.7%); Falls Church, VA (1.2%); Chatsworth, CA (0.6%); Anaheim, CA (0.2%); El Dorado Hills, CA (0.2%); and Berwyn, PA (0.2%); Camden, NJ (0.2%); and New York, NY (0.2%); and is expected to be complete in April 2015. All contract funds are committed immediately from the FY 2011 “2011 Aircraft Procurement, Navy” budget line, and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Jan 17/13: US DOT&E report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The P-8 is included, and the P-8A’s participation in international exercises along regular testing is helping them find issues. The good news is that the plane is improving in many areas. The bad news is that the plane still has a lot of gaps and teething issues before it’s ready for serious service.
The P-8’s biggest problems lie with its sensors’ ability to work as advertised, and to work together. The main radar is suffering track-while-scan deficiencies, high-resolution SAR image quality problems, radar pointing errors that are especially troublesome over land and in littoral regions, and cross-cue errors with the MX-20HD surveillance turret. Then there’s the MX-20HD surveillance turret itself, whose auto-track integration isn’t working. The AN/ALQ-240(V)1 ESM systems for pinpointing radars and communications sources around the plane are also problematic, suffering from faulty identification and interference with anti-submarine displays.
Wide-area submarine searches using the twin-sonobuoy multi-static active acoustic capability (MAC) approach will be a big step up from current IEER advanced sonobuoys, but their delayed integration (FY 2014 or later) still leaves adequate sonobuoy capability on board.
The other P-8 problem worth mentioning is that the main fuel tank overheats in hot weather during grounding and low-level flight. This sharply limits anti-submarine flight patterns, especially over chokepoints and critical facilities in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Florida and the Caribbean, East Africa, Hawaii, San Diego, etc. Customers like India and Australia won’t be thrilled, either, unless this is fixed.
DOT&E testing report
Dec 20/12: Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $7.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for P-8A training system program and configuration management, engineering, and quality assurance. This modification will bring the hardware platforms of the Weapons Tactics Trainer (WTT) and Operational Flight Trainer (OFT) up to the LRIP Lot 1 Block 8 configuration, so it keeps up with the planes themselves.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be completed in June 2014. All contract funds are committed immediately, and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year on Sept 30/13 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Dec 19/12: P-8i. Boeing “delivers” the first P-8I aircraft to the Indian Navy in Seattle, WA. 2013 will see India receive aircraft #1-3, with planes 4 and 5 under construction.
Indian personnel will conduct some training in the USA with the US Navy, while India builds up INS Rajali at Arakkonam Naval Air Station in Tamil Nadu (SE India). Those imperatives are underscored by the P-8i’s absence from Aero India 2013 in February, despite strong interest and anticipation within India. Boeing | IANS | Boeing re: Aero India 2013.
1st P-8i delivery
Dec 17/12: Upgrades. Boeing in Seattle, WA received a $16.1 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification, covering required engineering and labor to change the cooling medium in the existing P-8A Liquid Air Palletized System (LAPS) from polyalphaolefin, to ethylene glycol and water. They want to ensure compatibility between the LAPS and the Special Mission Cabin Equipment. Once development is done, Boeing will manufacture 3 P-8A conversion A-Kits, for use on the initial aircraft.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (81.6%); Huntsville, AL (8.8%); Mesa AZ (7.6%); and St. Louis, MO (2.0%) and is expected to be complete in December 2014. $14 million is committed immediately, and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year on Sept 30/12 (N00019-04-C-3146).
Dec 11/12: R&D. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $175.5 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for engineering, integration, and test work on P-8A changes and upgrades. The work will cover its weapons management, acoustics, and communication subsystems.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (43.3%); Huntington Beach, CA (22.4%); St. Louis, MO (24%); and Baltimore, MD (10.3%). $31.6 million are committed immediately, with the rest available until December 2015 (N00019-04-C-3146).
Dec 4/12: Training. Under a new 5-year, $56 million contract, Boeing will maintain U.S. Navy aircrew training devices for the P-8A, its P-3C predecessor, EP-3 Aries electronic eavesdropping planes, EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare jets, and older SH-60B Seahawk helicopters.
Mark McGraw, Boeing’s VP for Training Systems and Government Services, says the firm is looking to offer these services internationally. It’s a somewhat natural extension for its own products, like the EA-18G. It’s less natural for Lockheed Martin’s P-3s, Northrop Grumman’s EA-6s, and Sikorsky’s SH-60s.
The training devices are located at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, FL; Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, HI; NAS Whidbey Island, WA; and Kadena Air Base, Japan. Boeing will deliver P-8A training systems to NAS Jacksonville in 2013, and other sites will follow with trainers and all support functions. Boeing.
Nov 26/12: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA received a $26.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to continue developing the P-8A’s maintenance training curriculum. Materials will include computer-aided instruction for use in a classroom setting, interactive courseware for self-paced in-service training, and practical exercises to be used on various maintenance training devices. This seems like minor stuff, but if it’s done poorly, a multi-billion dollar fleet will suffer from lower readiness rates. Which turns out to be very expensive.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in June 2015. All contract funds are committed immediately, and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Nov 14/12: Basing. US Fleet Forces Command announces that they’re considering a number of basing plans for the P-8A, under supplemental environmental impact analyses. Of the 4 plans under consideration, 2 would base just 2 P-8s in Hawaii, instead of having 18 aircraft in 3 squadrons to offer good coverage of the Pacific theater.
The main plan is listed above: 42 planes in NAS Jacksonville, FL; 24 in Whidbey Island, WA; 18 in MCB Hawaii Kaneohe Bay; and 8 unallocated.
“Alternative 2” would put 47 planes in NAS Jacksonville, FL; 49 in Whidbey Island, WA; and 2 in MCB Hawaii Kaneohe Bay.
“Alternative 5” would put 47 planes in NAS Jacksonville, FL; 28 in Whidbey Island, WA; and 18 in MCB Hawaii Kaneohe Bay.
“Alternative 7” would put 54 planes in NAS Jacksonville, FL; 42 in Whidbey Island, WA; and 2 in MCB Hawaii Kaneohe Bay.
Alternatives 2 and 7 would damage the US Navy’s much-hyped “Pacific Pivot,” by having fewer aircraft in good position to offer coverage. Forward basing in Guam and with allies like Japan and Australia may help, but it’s more effective to do that and to base planes in Hawaii. Given the importance of aerial surveillance to anti-submarine warfare, one may also legitimately wonder if just 2 P-8As in Hawaii leaves Pearl Harbor insufficiently defended. The US Navy has often had a problem backing up its proclamations with actual platforms, but this one offers particular cause for scrutiny. Navy EIS site | Pacific Business News.
Oct 18/12: ESM. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives an $8.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order issued under basic ordering agreement to update the P-8A’s ESM sensor’s digital measurement unit “to overcome obsolescence issues”.
Work will be performed in Linthicum, MD (86%), and Seattle, WA (14%), and is expected to be complete in April 2015. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00019-11-G-0001).
Oct 5/12: Australia. Australia’s government signs a A$ 73.9 million with the USA to help develop the P-8A Increment 3, marking Australia’s continued commitment to the A$ 5 billion project that will replace its 19 AP-3Cs. This marks A$ 323.9 million in project contributions so far.
The Increment 3 Project Arrangement falls under the Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development Memorandum of Understanding signed in March 2012, which provides the framework by which the P-8A will be acquired, sustained and developed thought it service life. No basing decisions have been made yet, but they’re expected to end up at the AP-3C’s current home, RAAFB Edinburgh in South Australia. Australian DoD | Perth Now || Defense Update | UPI.
P-8A Inc-3 development
Oct 4/12: ESM. Northrop Grumman’s P-8A Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system is officially designated AN/ALQ-240v1. ESM systems use adaptive tuning, precise direction finding and geolocation to detect, identify, and target radars and other electronic threats to the aircraft and Navy vessels.
Northrop Grumman also provides the P-8A platform’s EWSP (early warning self-protection system). ESM isn’t part of that system, but it is complementary. NGC.
Oct 3/12: P-8 AGS advocacy. The Lexington Institute releases a report that recommends replacing all 73 of the USAF’s C-135/ Boeing 707 derived special mission aircraft with 737 derivatives. The E-8C JSTARS fleet of 16 operational planes would be swapped out for a derivative of the P-8A – basically, Boeing’s P-8 AGS concept. Overall, 73 planes would be replaced with 60 aircraft with higher mission-readiness rates, lower operating costs, and the ability to use existing global maintenance networks. It’s a bit of a turnaround for Lexington, who had strongly supported JSTARS re-engining and refurbishment before. Excerpts:
“The Air Force is currently spending so much money to keep its recon planes operational that it may be feasible to develop and field replacements based on commercial derivatives at little additional cost if it can retire aging 707s and C-135s quickly… The cumulative savings of substituting 737s for existing planes would total $100 billion across the life-cycle of the fleet, with annual savings likely to exceed $3 billion once the new planes were fully fielded. Most importantly, the 737 replacement program can be implemented within projected budgets for the ISR fleet… In the process it can eliminate 4,000 support billets and save over 80 million gallons of jet fuel each year, freeing up funding for activities where it can be applied more productively.”
See release | report [PDF].
LRIP-2 & 3 orders; P-8A inducted into USN; Increment 2 R&D; P-8A launches torpedo; Boeing looking at smaller airframe as a budget alternative.
Sept 27/12: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $13.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification buys spare parts in support of 10 P-8A operational flight trainers (OFTs), 7 weapons tactics trainers, 3 part task trainers, the training systems support center, and 15 electronic classrooms. Boeing will also buy Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 15 classified parts; manage spare parts and delivery; coordinate orders, quotes, and receive process; support inventory inspection processes; and deliver the spares. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in June 2014 (N00019-09-C-0022)
Sept 26/12: Spares. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $34.6 million firm-fixed-price modification to a fixed-price-incentive-fee contract, buying additional spares for the 11 LRIP Lot 3 P-8A aircraft.
Work will be performed in Dallas, TX (59%); Greenlawn, N.Y. (13%); Amityville, N.Y. (8%); Seattle, Wash. (7%); Rancho Santa Margarita, CA (6%); Anaheim, CA (4%); Irvine, CA (2%); and El Paso, TX (1%); and is expected to be complete in September 2015 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Sept 26/12: Support. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives an $18.9 million fixed-price-incentive-firm contract modification for equipment maintenance, site activation, and other support of Low Rate Initial Production P-8As. Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (57%); Jacksonville, FL (38%); and Kadena, Japan (5%), and is expected to be complete in November 2013 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Sept 25/12: Part obsolescence. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $15.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order to fix obsolescence issues. They’ll need to replace and integrate suitable hardware and software components in the P-8A’s Multi-Purpose Control Display Unit and Tactical Control Panel that have gone obsolete because those parts aren’t manufactured any more, and the Navy doesn’t have enough inventory to ignore that.
Work will be performed in Grand Rapids, MI (84%), and Seattle, WA (16%); and is expected to be complete in September 2014. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00019-11-G-0001).
Sept 21/12: LRIP-3. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $1.905 billion fixed-price-incentive-firm contract modification for 11 Low Rate Initial Production Lot 3 planes. This brings total P-8A LRIP-3 contracts to $2.209 billion.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (75.5%); Baltimore, MD (4%); Greenlawn, NY (2.5%); North Amityville, NY (2.3%); McKinney, TX (1.8%); Cambridge, United Kingdom (1.5%); and various location inside and outside of the continental United States (12.4%), and is expected to be complete in May 2015 (N00019-09-C-0022).
LRIP-3 main order
Aug 31/12: FRP-1 lead in. A $244.9 million advance acquisition contract to begin buying long-lead materials for 13 P-8As, with firm-fixed-price line items. That means it’s for the FY 2013 order (LRIP-4? FRP-1?).
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (63.8%); Greenlawn, NY (11.7%); Baltimore, MD (11.0%); North Amityville, NY (8.2%); and McKinney, TX (5.3%); and is expected to be complete in April 2016. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR6.302-1 (N00019-12-C-0112).
Aug 28/12: Too big? Boeing is starting to look at options beyond its P-8A, because their customers are saying that they don’t need its full versatility, and find its $200 million price tag prohibitive. Bombardier’s Challenger 600 seems to be the target platform, and the resulting plane would probably sacrifice weapon carrying capability in order to be a specialty surveillance plane.
Boeing aren’t the only ones working on this, of course. Established competitors include EADS’ CN-235 Persuader, C-295 MPA, ATR-42 MP, and ATR-72 ASW turboprops; and Embraer’s P-99 MP jet. Saab has options are in development based on the Saab 2000 regional turboprop and Piaggio P-180 executive turboprop, and Russia has a unique offering in development based on its Beriev Be-200 amphibious aircraft. There is also some talk in Britain of adding maritime patrol capabilities to its Sentinel R1 ground surveillance jets, based on Bombardier’s Challenger.
Among American manufacturers, Lockheed Martin is working on an SC-130J Sea Hercules modification, and the firm says they expect to sign at least one contract “in North Africa.” It’s designed as a $150 million alternative, to be developed in 3 stages. Stage 1 will involve roll-on/ bolt-on radar and electro-optical sensors, and accompanying processing workstations. Stage 2 would add wing-mounted, anti-surface weapons, along with upgraded workstations and weapon control systems. Stage 3 would be a full anti-submarine conversion, including sonobuoys, a magnetic anomaly detector boom, extra fuel pods, and 2 added bays for 6 Harpoon missiles. Defense News.
July 24/12: LRIP-3 lead in. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $107.1 million fixed-price-incentive-firm contract modification to provide additional funding for LRIP-3’s long-lead time materials That means items that need to be in the factory early, so that LRIP Lot 3’s 11 planes can be assembled and delivered on time. See also March 26/12 and Sept 8/11 entries – this brings LRIP-3 long-lead orders to $304 million.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (63.8%); Greenlawn, NY (11.7%); Baltimore, MD (11%); North Amityville, NY (8.2%); and McKinney, TX (5.3%). Work is expected to be complete in May 2015 (N00019-09-C-0022).
July 24/12: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $28.2 million fixed-price-incentive-firm contract for 22 flight management system trainers; 44 mission systems desktop trainers; 2 desktop training environments; updates to the P-8A Air Combat Training Continuum courseware; and all associated spares, support, and tools.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (48.2%); St. Louis, MO (35.8%); Jacksonville, FL (10.9%); Bloomington, IL (3.2%); Anaheim, CA (0.8%); Dallas, TX (0.8%); and Wichita, KS (0.3%). Work is expected to be completed in June 2014. $25.5 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00019-09-C-0022).
July 24/12: Australian sub-contractors. Boeing announces a very minor set of contracts ($1.85 million) to Australian companies Lovitt Technologies Australia and Ferra Engineering, to manufacture parts and assemblies for the P-8A.
Lovitt Technologies in Melbourne already supplies parts for the V-22 and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and will add mission systems parts and assembly fabrications for the P-8. Ferra Engineering in Brisbane also supplies Super Hornet parts, as well as spares for Boeing’s commercial jets. They’ll add P-8 internal and external airframe parts and assemblies to their roster.
Boeing has a number of programs of interest in Australia, including F/A-18AM/BM Hornet upgrades, new F/A-18F Super Hornets, the E-737 Wedgetail airborne early warning plane, and an expected P-8 buy (vid. May 6/09 entry). Boeing’s Office of Australian Industry Capability (OAIC) works with the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation’s Global Supply Chain Program, to identify and train industrial partners. Over the past 4 years, Boeing says they’ve awarded US$ 230 million in contracts to Australian firms.
July 17/12: #2 delivered. Boeing delivers the 2nd production P-8A to US Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL for aircrew training.
Meanwhile, 3 more P-8As are undergoing mission systems installation and checkout in Seattle, WA, and 3 are in final assembly in Renton, WA. That covers 8 of the 13 low-rate initial production aircraft ordered so far. The 6 flight-test and 2 ground-test P-8As ordered under the development contract are already delivered, and they’ve completed more than 600 sorties and 2,800 flight hours, mostly at NAS Patuxent River, MD. Boeing.
July 18/12: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives an $11.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for the Block 9.2 software upgrade of the Operational Flight Trainer, the Weapons Tactics Trainer, and the Part Task Trainer in support LRIP Lot 1. This modification also includes the procurement of a Mission System Desktop Trainer. Bottom line: the trainers must have the same software and capabilities as the flying aircraft.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (85%), Seattle, WA (12%), and Anaheim, CA (3%), and is expected to be complete in May 2013. $9.9 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00019-09-C-0022).
July 7/12: P-8i. India’s first P-8i begins flight-testing in Seattle, and all test objectives are met in its initial flight. Boeing test pilots will continue the process at a US Navy test range west of Neah Bay, WA, and at a joint U.S./Canadian test range in the Strait of Georgia. They believe that they are on track to deliver the 1st P-8i to the Indian Navy in 2013. Boeing.
May 12/11: No P-8 JSTARS? Gannett’s Air Force Times reports that that the USAF will hang on to the battlefield surveillance mission, even though it won’t be upgrading its E-8C JSTARS planes. The real story is that the USAF’s F-35, Next-Generation Bomber, and KC-46A aerial tanker projects are sucking all of the budgetary oxygen out of the room. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz:
“I think that [Chief of Naval Operations Adm.] Jon Greenert would tell you that he can’t do both the maritime P-8 mission and the entire GMTI [Ground Moving Target Indicator] overland mission… Based on the analysis of alternatives, the more attractive option is a business-class aircraft with cheek sensors that operates at 40,000-foot plus and at much less of a flying-hour cost… That’s probably the right solution set, but we don’t have the [budgetary] space to pursue it right now.”
A Navy official emphasized that the P-8A’s primary focus is anti-submarine warfare, followed by surveillance in maritime areas. They see overland ISR as a tertiary mission, just as it has been for the P-3C. The long-term question is whether force structure trends will force a change in thinking, if the P-8A becomes the most capable option available. The performance and availability of the USAF’s RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 40 [PDF] fleet is likely to be the determining factor.
May 11/12: Increment II R&D. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $13.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order modification for P-8A Increment II risk reduction activities. This effort includes acoustic processor technology refresh work, multi-static active coherent Phase I capability, Automatic Identification System prototype development, and high altitude anti-submarine warfare sensor capability. As one might guess, Increment II is the next evolution of the design for the fleet, to be built into new aircraft and retrofitted into delivered planes.
Work will be performed in Anaheim, CA (70%), and Seattle, WA (30%), and is expected to be complete in January 2013 (N00019-05-G-0026).
March 28/12: Rollout & induction. The 1st P-8A from the LRIP-1 is inducted into USN Squadron VP-30 at Jacksonville, FL, for training. Following the ceremony, dignitaries cut a ribbon in front of the $40 million, 14-acre P-8A Poseidon Integrated Training Center facility. The first crew begins formal training in July, and the Navy eventually plans on having 42 total P-8As at Jacksonville NAS by 2019: 12 training planes plus 30 operational aircraft.
Boeing spokesman Chick Ramey said that P-8As are currently rolling off the Renton, WA assembly line at a rate of about 1 per month. US Navy photo release | Florida Times-Union | Puget Sound Business Journal.
March 26/12: LRIP-3 long lead. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $30.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, buying additional long lead time materials for the FY 2012 Low Rate Initial Production III lot of 11 planes.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (63.8%); Greenlawn, NY (11.7%); Baltimore, MD (11.0%); North Amityville, NY (8.2%); and McKinney, TX (5.3%); and is expected to be complete in May 2015 (N00019-09-C-0022).
March 23/12: Boeing VP and P-8 program manager Chuck Dabundo says that the P-8A is expected to be ready for Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOTE) from June – August 2012. He adds that: “The P-8A full-flight envelope should be cleared to conduct… realistic missions and maneuvering flight profiles during the IOT&E,” addressing one of the concerns from the 2011 DOT&E report (vid. Jan 17/12).
Meanwhile, the 1st operational flight and weapons tactics trainers are completing their set-up in the P-8A Integrated Training Center at NAS Jacksonville, FL. The other LRIP-1 plane is undergoing mission systems installation, with a hand-over to the Navy expected in mid-year. Aviation Week.
March 19/12: Sub-contractors. ITT Exelis touts its compressed air weapon ejection release technology, which successfully launched an MK 54 torpedo from P-8A test aircraft T-3’s weapon bay (vid. Oct 31/11). Many launch systems still use electrically-triggered explosive cartridges for launch separation, which has higher purchase and maintenance costs over time.
ITT was awarded the initial system design and development contract in August 2005, and says that it has received follow-on contracts totaling more than $30 million to date. Work is being performed by the Exelis Electronic Systems division in Amityville, NY.
March 4/12: 1st production delivery. Boeing delivers the first LRIP-1 plane to the US Navy in Seattle, after having built 6 flight-test and 2 ground-test aircraft. The delivery paves the way for flight training to begin. Boeing | Jacksonville Business Journal.
1st production delivery
Feb 13/12: Budget Cuts. The Pentagon submits its FY 2013 funding request. P-8A production will continue to ramp up, to the expected 13 planes, but future buys will be lower than planned, removing 10 planes from the program over the next 4 years. It’s always possible to add them back at the end of the program, but the USA’s current fiscal straits, and long-term entitlements explosions, make that unlikely:
“Due to changing priorities within the Department and funding constraints, the Department deemed that it was a manageable risk to reduce P-8A procurement by 10 aircraft from FY 2013 – FY 2017. Savings total $5.2 billion from FY 2013 – FY 2017.”
Feb 13/12: APY-10 air-air. Raytheon announces that it has delivered the 1st AN/APY-10 International radar to Boeing, for installation in the nose of India’s 1st P-8i. They also confirm that, per rumors reported on Feb 3/10:
“To meet unique requirements for the Indian navy, Raytheon has added an air-to-air mode, which provides the detection and tracking of airborne targets, allowing customers to detect threats in the air as well as at sea. In addition, an interleaved weather and surface search capability has been added to provide the cockpit with up-to-date weather avoidance information while performing surveillance missions.”
Feb 1/12: AAS. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $227 million cost-plus-award-fee modification contract for “interim flight clearance for the P-8A aircraft in the special mission configuration,” using the T-1 and T-3 test aircraft. Later reports confirm that the special configuration involves the P-8’s AAS radar pod.
Boeing tells us that this is about military airworthiness certification, which enables operational use of an aircraft (like a 737) in a special configuration. It’s also the precursor step to full fleet flight clearance. The time and expense involved in such certifications is often overlooked by casual observers, but over the last few years, this step has held up deployment of several big-ticket defense items around the world.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (59%); Baltimore, MD (32%); and St. Louis, MO (9%), and is expected to be complete in August 2016. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity(N00019-04-C-3146).
Jan 17/12: DOT&E Report. The Pentagon releases the FY2011 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The P-8A is included, and currently suffers from 2 major sets of issues that need to be fixed. One is mechanical, and involves bank angle limits. The other is software defects:
“The P-8A currently has an operational flight envelope limit that precludes it from flying at a bank angle greater than 48 degrees when maneuvering. In order to fly operationally realistic tactics during anti-submarine warfare missions, the aircraft will have to fly maneuvers that require a bank angle of 53 degrees… Although 92 percent of the priority 1 [DID: can’t perform mission-essential capability] and [priority] 2 [DID: impairs mission-essential capability, no onboard workaround] software problems have been closed, the current closure rate is not sufficient to have all the priority 1 and 2 software problems resolved by the start of IOT&E [Initial Operational Test & Evaluation]… There are 369 priority 1 and 2 software problems as of September 21, 2011. Software problems discovered during the later stages of the integrated testing may not be fixed in the software version that is currently planned for IOT&E, and may require additional software upgrades prior to starting IOT&E to ensure the software is production-representative.”
Jan 12/12: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $9.2 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification for spares, repairables, trainers, and courseware in support of FY 2011 production of P-8As under LRIP Lot 2 (vid. Nov 3/11 entry). Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (60%), and St. Louis, MO (40%), and is expected to be complete in September 2012 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Dec 19/11: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $19.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to buy 1 P-8A weapons tactics trainer, 9 of its 10-seat e-classrooms, and 6 of its 20-seat e-classrooms, as part of the FY 2011 LRIP Lot 2 production (vid. Nov 3/11 entry).
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (75%), and Seattle, WA (25%), and is expected to be complete in March 2014 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Dec 16/11: Training. The 1st full-motion operational flight trainer (OFT) and weapons tactics trainer (WTT) are delivered and placed in NAS Jacksonville’s P-8A Integrated Training Center. The Navy’s VP-30 Sqn. fleet introduction team (FIT) instructors worked with Boeing on the courseware, and had input into the design of the simulators.
P-8As are expected to begin shipping to patrol squadrons beginning in July 2012. US NAVAIR.
Nov 4/11: Increment II. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $10 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order to help plan Increment 2 acoustic processor technology updates for the P-8A. P-8A increment 2 is scheduled for fielding in 2016.
Work will be performed in Anaheim, CA (75%), and Seattle, WA (25%), and is expected to be complete in January 2013. $2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00019-05-G-0026).
Nov 3/11: LRIP-2. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $1.378 billion firm-fixed-price-incentive contract modification, to buy Low Rate Initial Production Lot 2’s set of 7 P-8A aircraft, plus US Navy aircrew and maintenance training beginning in 2012, logistics support, spares, support equipment and tools. The training system will include a full-motion, full-visual Operational Flight Trainer that simulates the flight crew stations, and a Weapons Tactics Trainer for the mission crew stations.
Unlike many other military programs, Boeing appears to be handling the sub-contracts for most of the plane’s equipment itself, which leaves these figures much closer to the plane’s true purchase cost.
Work will be performed in Chicago, IL (21.9%); Greenlawn, NY (12.3%); Puget Sound, WA (11.5%); Dallas, TX (6.6%); North Amityville, NY (5.8%); Cambridge, United Kingdom (4.8%); and various locations in and outside the continental United States (37.1%); and is expected to be complete in January 2013 (N00019-09-C-0022). See also Boeing.
LRIP-2 main order
Oct 13/11: Testing. P-8A aircraft T-3 successfully launches its first MK 54 torpedo in the Atlantic Test Range, from 500 feet above water. The test verifies safe separation, with further weapon testing to come. US NAVAIR.
LRIP-1 order; 1st production P-8A flight; P-8i 1st flight; Training arrangements; New production facility; 737 MAX complicates the choices for customers.
Sept 28/11: P-8i 1st flight. Initial flight for the P-8i, which takes off from Renton Field, WA and lands 2:31 later at Boeing Field in Seattle, WA. 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. Boeing.
P-8i 1st flight
Sept 26/11: Training. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $32.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 1 P-8A Operational Flight Trainer and 1 P-8A weapons tactics trainer, as part of LRIP Lot 2. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (75%), and Seattle, WA (25%), and is expected to be complete in April 2014 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Sept 23/11: LRIP-2 ancillaries. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $319.9 million fixed-price incentive-fee contract for P-8A LRIP-2 spare parts, support equipment and tools, logistics support, trainers, and courseware. LRP-2 involves 7 aircraft.
Work will be performed in McKinney, TX (35%); Hazelwood, Mo. (35%); Seattle, WA (14%); Jacksonville, FL (4%); Anaheim, CA (4%); Baltimore, MD (3%); Camden, NJ (3%); and Greenlawn, NY (2%). Work is expected to be complete in March 2014 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Sept 8/11: LRIP-3 lead-in. A $166.8 million fixed-price-incentive contract modification, funding for long lead time materials in support of LRIP Lot 3’s 11 planned P-8As.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (63.80%); Greenlawn, NY (11.69%); Baltimore, MD (10.98%); North Amityville, NY (8.24%) and McKinney, TX (5.29%); and is expected to be complete in May 2015 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Aug 31/11: Training. Jax Air News reports on the coming transition to the P-8A at the VP-30 Fleet Replacement training squadron. According to Commanding Officer (CO) Capt. Mark Stevens, VP-30 will teach both the P-3 and the P-8, until the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force community completes its transition to the Poseidon by 2017. Flight Instructor Trainers are completing commercial B-737 type rating school in Seattle, WA, then they train in VX-20’s 4 Poseidon test aircraft at Pax River, MD.
The first P-8A transition squadron to be trained at VP-30 will be the VP-16 ‘War Eagles’ beginning in July of 2012, as they return from deployment to face 6 months of training. VP-30 will also begin training replacement P-8 pilots, NFOs and aircrew in August of 2012, at the new P-8A Integrated Training Center (ITC), which includes classrooms, 10 full-motion operational flight trainers (OFT) for pilots, and 9 mission system trainers for aircrew – each with 5 operator stations.
Aug 19/11: Testing. P-8A T2 returns from Yuma, AZ, where hot environment ground and flight tests took place over 13 days from July 7-20/11. July temperatures at Yuma average 107F/ 42C. Now that T2 is back to Patuxent River, MD, it continues required mission systems testing to include the acoustic system, Sonobuoy Launching System, Sonobuoy Positioning System, and Electro-Optical/Infrared system. US NAVAIR | Maryland’s Bay Net.
July 25/11: LRIP-2 lead in. A $21 million fixed-price-incentive-fee contract modification adds more long lead materials funding for the 7 LRIP Lot 2 production aircraft.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (63.80%); Greenlawn, NY (11.69%); Baltimore, MD (10.98%); North Amityville, NY (8.24%); and McKinney, TX (5.29%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2013 (N00019-09-C-0022).
July 22/11: Testing. US NAVAIR announces that the P-8A completed the clean flutter program in June 2011, including open & closed bay doors, and began loads testing in preparation for Operational Assessment in 2012.
Flutter is described as a vibration that continuously builds in intensity; the team needed to demonstrate that the P-8A remains safe throughout its flight envelope, without weapons. Loads testing verifies that it’s safe with weapons carried.
July 21/11: 737 MAX. American Airlines, which has traditionally been a Boeing/McDonnell Douglas stronghold, splits its $40 billion fleet replacement order between Boeing and Airbus, ordering 460 planes between 2013-2022, with options for more. The new aircraft will replace older MD-80s, as well as larger Boeing 757s and 767s.
Airbus will deliver 260 A319/A320/A321s beginning in 2013, of which half will be A320neo family planes with new geared turbofan engines from Pratt & Whitney (PurePower) or GE/CFM (LEAP-X), beginning in 2017. They also have 365 options with Airbus for additional aircraft. Boeing will deliver 200 737s, beginning in 2013, with options for another 100. Half of those initial 737s, and 60/100 options, will involve 737 MAX planes with LEAP-X engines, but no delivery date is set.
Those re-engined 737 MAX planes will have to be developed and certified, of course, with estimates that place them 1-3 years behind Airbus’ planned 2015 A320neo introduction. The effect is to upset Boeing’s strategy to introduce an entirely new narrowbody jet. Airline interest in the re-engined 737 seems set to delay that planned switchover, and AA’s order alone will keep the 737 in production for at least a decade. This is not good news for Boeing, but it might be good news for military customers of 737 derivatives. The thing is, they now have a choice of their own to make about their future fleets (vid. June 8/11 entry). Using a 737 MAX offers important life-cycle cost reductions, but it also involves modifications to existing designs for 737 specialty aircraft like the P-8. Someone will have to pay for that. American Airlines | Airbus | Boeing | GE/CFM | Seattle Post-Intelligencer | Seattle Times | Forbes.
July 7/11: 1st P-8A flight. The first P-8A Poseidon production aircraft completes its first flight, taking off from Renton Field, WA and landing 3 hours later at Boeing Field in Seattle, WA. This is an LRIP Lot 1 plane, which now leaves final assembly and enters mission system installation and checkout in Seattle. Boeing will deliver it to the Navy next year in 2012.
This production P-8A is the first to include an improved CFM56-7BE engine with high- and low-pressure turbine modifications, that is now standard on all new 737NGs. The design also incorporates drag reduction improvements that Boeing started phasing into 737 production earlier this year, but the expected fuel savings vs. older models are only 2% or so, compared to about 15% for geared turbofan models. Boeing | CFM | Boeing re: new design.
June 8/11: 737 dilemmas. Under pressure from planes like Airbus’ developmental A320 NEO and Bombardier’s C-Series, which carry ultra fuel-efficient geared turbofan engines, Boeing is reconsidering the future of its 737 platform. The company had been looking at developing a whole new narrow-body jet by 2020 or so, then discontinuing the 737 around mid-decade. Customer pressure is now leading them to consider a re-engined 737 as an interim step, which means fuselage and landing gear changes.
All of these dynamics affect current and future P-8 customers, as well as potential customers for programs like their E-737 AEW&C. Boeing is urging its customer to place orders for military 737 derivatives before 2020, rather than waiting beyond, and is considering whether it may wish to offer modified variants based on the re-engined 737. The net effect of these moves may actually be to delay, or shift, customer buys. While thousands of 737s will remain in service after the line closes, guaranteeing parts availability for some time, expensive assets like a P-8 or E-737 are expected to be in service for 40-50 years. The prospect of an engine-driven step change in operating costs, alongside a potential next step change via blended wing body designs, in a future world of expensive fuel, adds even more food for thought. Fleets must be renewed, but a potential customer envisioning its fleet in 2065 may hesitate at the prospect of ordering a high-end aircraft platform at the very end of its civil counterpart’s production run, with further step-change technologies on the way. Boeing’s push has the effect of focusing attention on those questions, and it remains to be seen whether the results are positive or negative. Bloomberg.
March 9/11: Sub-contractors. BAE Systems announces a Low Rate Initial Production contract from Boeing to provide 6 ruggedized P-8A mission computer systems. No cost figures are released.
March 7/11: Sub-contractors. Spirit AeroSystems delivers the 1st LRIP production P-8A fuselage to Boeing via rail car, whereupon Boeing workers begin final assembly by loading it into a tooling fixture and installing systems, wires and other small parts.
The Poseidon team is using a first-in-industry in-line production process that draws on Boeing’s civilian Next-Generation 737 production system, by making all P-8A military modifications in sequence during fabrication and assembly. The pervasive approach to this point has involved producing a civilian plane, then flying it to another plant for “militarization” work. Boeing.
Feb 2/11: APY-10. Raytheon announces a low rate initial production contract from Boeing to deliver 6 AN/APY-10 radars plus spares as part of LRIP Lot 1 production.
Jan 21/11: LRIP-1 main order. Boeing receives a $1.53 billion contract modification, finalizing the Low Rate Initial Production Lot I (LRIP-1) contract for 6 P-8As to a fixed-price-incentive-firm contract, and launching production. Boeing will supply the 6 planes, plus associated spares, support equipment and tools, logistics support, trainers and courseware. This brings P-8A LRIP-1 contracts to a total of $1.64 billion, including the April 23/09 advance materials contract, or about $273 million per place. That per-plane cost will climb if key mission equipment is provided under separate contracts as “government furnished equipment,” which is usually the case.
It’s quite common for planes from the LRIP sets to be more expensive than full rate production aircraft, sometimes, by another 100-200%. The P-8’s initial production on the live 737 passenger jet line is likely to dampen that tendency, but installing the military equipment will have a learning cost curve of its own. Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (76%); Hazelwood, MO (10%); Baltimore, MD (4%); Greenlawn, NY (2%); Tampa, FL (2%); McKinney, TX (1%); North Amityville, NY (1%); Hauppauge, NY (1%); Anaheim, CA (1%); Grand Rapids, MI (1%); and Rockford, IL (1%); and is expected to be complete in January 2013 (N00019-09-C-0022). See also US NAVAIR.
LRIP-1 main order
Jan 7/11: Testing. Boeing completes full-scale static testing of the P-8A Poseidon’s airframe, after ground test plane S1 undergoes 154 different tests, with no failure of the primary structure. During 74 of the tests, the airframe was subjected to 150% of the highest expected flight loads.
In September 2011, the Boeing P-8A team will begin refurbishing the S1 plane to prepare it for live-fire testing at Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, CA. Boeing will begin fatigue tests on its second ground-test vehicle, S2, later in 2011. Boeing.
Nov 11/10: Industrial. An official ceremony opens the new P-8 aircraft production facility near Boeing Field in Seattle, WA. It’s actually 2nd stage production. Boeing Commercial Airplanes employees assemble the P-8s on the 737 line in Renton, WA, including all structural modifications. That improves flow time, costs, and quality. The next step is a short flight to Boeing Field near Seattle, WA, where Boeing DSS employees install military mission systems and conduct aircraft tests. Boeing.
Oct 15/10: Testing. NAVAIR’s P-8A test aircraft launches sonobuoys for the first time, as part of P-8 weapons testing. A total of 6 sonobuoys were involved in 3 low altitude launches at the Atlantic Test Range, using the P-8’s rotary launch system.
That system uses 3 three launchers with the capacity to hold 10 sonobuoys each, and it can launch single or multiple shots. The aircraft’s overall sonobuoy storage capacity is 120, fully 50% percent greater than the P-3’s capacity of 80. US NAVAIR.
Oct 4/10: India. India’s navy wants to grow its P-8i fleet to 12 planes, by exercising a $1 billion option for 4 more. Indian sources are telling the media that the prices and offset agreements would be the same as the original $2.1 billion contract for 8 aircraft. The decision follows a recent visit by Indian defense minister Antony and Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma. The proposal will now be sent to India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for approval, and other steps also remain on the to do list. The Times of India:
“P-8Is are being customised to Indian naval requirements, with communication, electronic warfare and other systems being sourced from India. For instance, defence PSU Bharat Electronics is delivering Data Link-II, a communication system to enable rapid exchange of information among Indian warships, submarines aircraft and shore establishments, for the P-8Is to Boeing. There is, however, the question of India having not yet inked the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) being pushed by the US as ”a sensitive technology-enabler” for P-8I and other arms procurements.”
See: India Defence | Times of India | Zee News | China’s Xinhua.
SAR kicks program total up to 122; P-8i passes design review; Indian contract for APY-10 with air-air as well; Boeing proposes P-8 AGS to USAF; Saudi Arabian P-8A interest; Shoot ’em up with Southwest.
Sept 13/10: P-8 AGS? The battle over the E-8 JSTARS fleet’s future is heating up. Boeing is proposing a derivative of its P-8A Poseidon sea control aircraft as a proposed $5.5 billion, 1-for-1 replacement of the current E-8C fleet, instead of paying that estimated amount to upgrade the E-8Cs with new cockpits, sensors, and engines. The Boeing AGS version would include the Raytheon-Boeing Littoral Surveillance Radar System (LSRS), Raytheon’s AN/APY-10 multi-mode radar in the nose, some the same Electronic Support Measures for emissions geo-location that are featured on the E/A/18G Growler electronic attack lane, and an electro-optical surveillance and targeting turret. A P-8 derivative would also give the USAF space and integration for weapons on board, or additional sensors in those spaces.
Northrop Grumman believes the Boeing figure may be a lowball price, and has its own proposal to add 1′ x 8′ array radars on the plane’s cheeks, derived from the firm’s APG-77 and APG-81 AESA radars that equip the F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters. Today, J-Stars operations have to “break track” with a target to collect an image. The cheek fairings would solve that problem, while keeping the existing AN/APY-7, in order to lower the upgrade price to around $2.7 billion: $900M re-engining, $500M new APY-7 receiver and exciters, $1 billion for the cheek array, $300M for avionics upgrade and battle management improvements. This would replace the previous push to replace the APY-7 with their MP-RTIP radar.
Northrop Grumman executives have expressed concern that USAF officials have not showed them the 2009 initial capabilities document that could launch a competition to replace or upgrade the E-8C, something that’s common practice, even though it isn’t a required step. That may be because the USAF is considering even wider options – like putting the focus on “persistent ground looking radar and optical surveillance with high resolution moving target capability,” instead of an E-8C vs. 737 AGS competition. If so, the firms could find themselves competing with other platforms, possibly including derivatives of airship projects like the US Army’s LEMV and others. Aviation Week | Flight International.
Sept 8/10: LRIP-2 lead-in. A $136.6 million contract modification for long-lead materials in support of P-8A LRIP (low-rate initial production) Lot 2 aircraft.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (63.8%); Greenlawn, NY (11.7%); Baltimore, MD (10.9%); North Amityville, NY (8.3%); and McKinney, TX (5.3%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013 (N00019-09-C-0022).
Sept 8/10: Sub-contractors. India’s Economic Times reports that Maini Global Aerospace (MGA) has bagged an outsourcing contract worth up to $10 million to make structural components for the extended range fuel cells of the Boeing P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime (MMR) aircraft. These components would be common to the P-8A and P-8i.
July 29/10: Testing. Boeing’s T3 test aircraft successfully completes its first flight test, which is focused on aerodynamics and safety. T3 is the P-8A program’s mission-system and weapon-certification aircraft. T3 will soon fly to join the other 2 test aircraft at NAS Patuxent River, MD. Boeing.
July 18/10: AN/APY-10i. Raytheon announces a contract from Boeing to develop an international version of the AN/APY-10 surveillance radar for India’s P-8i. It’s a private arrangement, and Raytheon’s director of strategy and business development, Neil K Peterson, tells DNA India that details of the contract are still being worked out. He adds that “The radar we will be giving to the Indian Navy’s planes will have more features than those with The US Navy.”
This is the first sale of the APY-10 beyond the USA. The challenge is to provide excellent performance, without including some of the American radar’s protected features. Raytheon describes the APY-10 as a “long-range, multimission, maritime and overland surveillance radar.” So far, Raytheon is under contract with Boeing to provide 6 AN/APY-10 systems and spares for the US Navy’s P-8A program, and has delivered 4. The firm says that it remains on or ahead of the production schedule. Raytheon | DNA India.
July 16/10: India. Boeing successfully completes the P-8i’s 5-day final design review with the Indian Navy in Renton, WA, USA. That locks in the design for the aircraft, radar, communications, navigation, mission computing, acoustics and sensors, as well as the ground and test support equipment. It also paves the way for the program to begin assembling the first P-8I aircraft, which will include Indian-built sub-systems. Boeing P-8i program manager Leland Wight says that Boeing is on track to start building the P-8I’s empennage section before the end of 2010. Boeing.
P-8i design review
June 2010: BAE Systems completes the mission computer system qualification testing, and flies aboard the program’s 1st mission systems test flight in Seattle. Source.
April 10/10: US Navy Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-20’s first P-8A Poseidon test aircraft arrives at NAVAIR Patuxent River, MD facilities. Capt. Mike Moran, Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft program manager (PMA-290), said that the program continues to meet all performance criteria and is on track for initial operational capability in 2013.
The Poseidon Integrated Test Team includes Navy test squadrons VX-20 and VX-1, and Boeing; they will use this “T1” aircraft to evaluate the P-8A’s airworthiness and expand its flight envelope. When the production-configured T2 and T3 arrive later in 2010, they will be used for extensive mission systems and weapons system testing. US NAVAIR release | YouTube video.
April 1/10: SAR baseline. The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisition Report. The P-8A program is on the reporting list, because of the aircraft added to the program plan:
“Program costs increased $1,288.0 million (+3.9%) from $32,852.9 million to $34,140.9 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of nine aircraft from 113 to 122 aircraft (+$1,620.6 million) and associated schedule and estimating allocations (+$50.0 million), and an increase in other support costs associated with the quantity increase (+130.5 million). Costs also increased in estimating due to commercial aircraft pricing, avionics maturation, and aircraft design changes (+$505.2 million); revised assumptions for labor rates, learning curves, new material escalation indices, and other minor estimating changes (+$70.1 million); additional effort for test and evaluation, resolution of aircraft weight growth, and changes in the electro-optical infrared subsystem (+$83.7 million); increased scope to correct deficiencies (+$210.8 million); and costs resulting from the Boeing machinists union strike and rate increases (+$73.0 million). These increases were partially offset by the application of revised escalation indices (-$863.3 million), a decrease in initial spares in accordance with the long-term support strategy (-$278.5 million), acceleration of the procurement buy profile eliminating fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019 (-$187.8 million), and removal of the Increment 2 development (-$147.9 million).”
The 122 consists of 117 production P-8A aircraft, 3 production representative aircraft that will support operational testing, and 2 fully configured developmental test aircraft. Aircraft “T1” will fly but is not production representative, so it isn’t counted. Neither are the 2 ground-test partial-builds used for static and fatigue testing, or the es-Southwest LFTE plane.
The other confusing element in this report is the removal of “Increment 2” features. Increment 2, previously known as Spiral 1, adds acoustics and communications upgrades, as well as an initial high altitude weapons capability – the HAAWC torpedo/ Longshot kit.
NAVAIR explains that the P-8A is using an evolutionary acquisition strategy, that will continue to improve the capabilities of the system over the life of the program. So far, so normal. However, none of these forecast improvements are included in the program’s Acquisition Program Baseline (APB: cost, schedule and performance parameters), which is the basis for the SAR. Increments 2 & 3 have received budget funding, with Increment 2 expected to reach Initial Operating Capability around 2016. Since neither of these increments has held a formal milestone review, however, the associated costs don’t formally count yet.
March 24/10: Just shoot me, redux. Need to speed up testing? Want to shoot a plane full of holes? Fly Southwest! Engineers at NAWCWD’s Weapons Survivability Laboratory (WSL) spent just $200,000 to add a cast-off 737 from Southwest Airlines to the P-8A Poseidon Live-Fire Test and Evaluation (LFTE) Program. NAWCAD WSL vulnerability engineer Paul Gorish found the plane while shopping for individual parts. It came complete with in-flight magazines; and after arriving at China Lake, CA, the engines, auxiliary power unit, avionics and windshield were the only things removed.
LFTE tests involve shooting various sections of the plane with different anti-aircraft rounds that it might encounter in theater, then assessing the damage and using that data to improve the aircraft’s survivability. The first LFTE test will look at how the hydraulics in the tail portion of the aircraft react when hit with a threat. Another test will evaluate how the oxygen bottles will react to a ballistic impact in a fully pressurized cabin.
The original plan called for the ground-test aircraft (S1) to arrive in 2012. Now they can offload some of the tests planned for S1 onto this 737, beginning in summer 2010, and complete all tests within the tight schedule. It’s also expected that Southwest’s former jet will become a source of parts to build-up the incomplete test-plane S1 into a more representative P-8A surrogate. US NAVAIR release.
Feb 4/10: Testing. Boeing successfully completes weapons ground vibration testing on P-8A Poseidon test aircraft T1, after loading 18 different weapons configurations onto the test aircraft over a 1 month period. For each set, external shakers induce vibration of the aircraft’s wings, stabilizer and stores to verify the plane’s structural integrity and reactions, using with more than 100 accelerometers and other external devices.
The effort comes before full flight testing at Pax River, MD, and follows May 2009 ground vibration tests without weapons. Boeing release.
Feb 3/10: India. Flight International reports that Boeing plans to put an additional Raytheon radar on the aft section of India’s P-8is, and is exploring an air-to-air mode for the APY-10. India wanted air-to-air capability and a 360 degree radar, and the AN/APY-10 provides only 240 degree coverage from the P-8’s nose section.
Feb 3/10: Self-inflicted delay. Flight International reports that the US Navy is facing a self-inflicted 6-month program delay. The ferry light to Patuxent River, MD was scheduled for September 2009, but the trip had been delayed to Q1 2010. The first 2 P-8As are in Seattle doing flight tests, and could perform all testing there, but the US Navy wants all testing done at NAVAIR’s east coast facility. Unfortunately, the Navy doesn’t have its designated facility ready to receive the P-8, hence the 6-month delay.
Feb 2/10: FY 2011 budget. The Pentagon releases its FY 2011 budget request, containing $2.92 billion for the P-8A program. That request includes $1.99 billion for 7 more P-8 aircraft, advance procurement for 9 FY 2012 aircraft, plus $929.2 million for Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation. The Pentagon adds that “aircraft procurements are tightly coupled to the P-3 retirement rates.”
Feb 2/10: Sub-contractors. Herley Industries, Inc. of in Lancaster, PA announces a $1.5 million sub-contract for integrated microwave assemblies, to be used in the U.S. Navy’s P-8A aircraft. This is Herley’s first production award under the P-8A program, as opposed to system design & development contracts.
Jan 29/10: Studies. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $16.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026). They will conduct studies and analyses for the acoustic processor technology refresh, and capability analysis planning for the P-8A. In an era where more and more countries are fielding quiet, advanced submarines, and electronics become obsolete every 4-5 years, this kind of ongoing work is necessary.
Work will be performed in Anaheim, CA (83%), and Seattle, WA (17%), and is expected to be complete in July 2011.
Dec 4/09: IOT&E. Boeing in Seattle, WA received a $12.5 million not-to-exceed modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-04-C-3146) in support of the P-8A initial operation test and evaluation (IOT&E). Specific efforts include the modification of courseware and training devices and transition, and integration of organic maintenance.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (60%), and Seattle, WA (40%), and is expected to be complete in January 2012. Contract funds in the amount of $1 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
November 2009: APY-10. A Boeing and Raytheon worker formally finish installation of the APY-10 radar in the nose of P-8A test plane T2. T2 is the P-8A program’s primary mission system testbed, and it will enter the U.S. Navy’s flight test program in early 2010, after a follow-on phase of radar installation and additional instrumentation. During flight tests, US Navy and Boeing pilots will verify the performance of all aircraft sensors, including the APY-10. Boeing release.
Oct 24/09: Saudi Arabia. Abu Dhabi newspaper The National reports that Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in buying 6 of Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, in a deal worth a reported $1.3 billion (about 4.8 billion riyals). The National says the lanes would be part of a larger $20 billion naval modernization:
“They took the steps to say to the US Navy that they are interested,” Ray Figueras, the director of strategic development for the P-8 Poseidon at Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS), said of the Saudi Royal Navy. “We’ve been told there is a need for six.”…Details of the naval overhaul were announced last December when US defence officials said Saudi Arabia wanted to buy the P-8 along with the H-60R Seahawk multimission helicopter built by Sikorsky Aircraft, unmanned Fire Scout helicopters built by Northrop Grumman, and smaller combat ships… The [P-8] aircraft are said to cost $220 million each…”
Saudi Arabia has long coastlines of shallow seas, and a special interest in protecting the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian/Persian Gulf. Its own topography lends itself well to larger fleets of smaller maritime patrol aircraft, but extending operations out to deal with threats like pirates near Yemen and Somalia would require a long-range aircraft. As always in the Gulf, corporate and political relationships also play a strong role in national choices.
Oct 15/09: Testing. The first US Navy test pilot flies a P-8A, alongside a Boeing test pilot. Initial test flights have centered around Boeing’s Seattle facilities, but the P-8A will move to Patuxent River, MD, in early 2010 for more advanced tests. The Integrated Test Team will include personnel from the Navy’s VX-1 and VX-20 squadrons, and from Boeing. They will spend the next 36 months flying and evaluating 3 aircraft, designated T1, T2 and T3. NAVAIR’s release quotes Lt. Roger Stanton:
“For the baseline P-8, it certainly flies like a 737… The interesting flying for the P-8 really will come when we have to emulate the P-3 mission – high bank angle, low altitude, autopilot integrated into our mission with missiles on the wings. It will get interesting.”
India becomes 1st export sale; P-8A rollout; 1st flight; USN wants 117 + 8 P-8s; MoU with Australia; AAS radar follow-on to LSRS; Initial basing plans announced.
Sept 4/09: DCK cut off. The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. in Baltimore, MD receives a $37.4 million firm-fixed-price contract to design and build a P-8A Operational Training Facility at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The facility will include space for 10 operational flight trainers (OFT), bridge cranes over the OFT devices, 8 weapons tactics trainers, and 4 part task trainers; plus support equipment, computer based training stations, internal and external network communication equipment, training media storage, maintenance support shops, administrative offices, student study rooms, briefing areas, communications closets, and secure compartmented information facilities. The contract also contains an option, which would increase the contract’s value to $37.95 million if exercised. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL, and is expected to be complete by June 2011.
If this sounds familiar, it should. The July 2/09 entry describes a similar award to DCK North America. On July 13/09, however, Balfour Beatty Construction files a bid protest with the GAO protesting the US Navy’s award to DCK on multiple grounds. The government review of the protest led them to terminate DCK’s award, and re-evaluate the bids; that removed the basis of the protest, and led to its formal dismissal on Aug 5/09. The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company won the re-evaluation, and the contract previously awarded to DCK will be Terminated for Convenience.
This contract was competitively negotiated via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 21 proposals received in Phase One and, 7 Phase One offerors selected to proceed to Phase Two. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast in Jacksonville, FL will manage this new contract (N69450-09-C-1291).
Aug 27/09: AAS. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $25 million not-to-exceed modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-04-C-3146). Work will be performed in Seattle, WA and is expected to be complete in February 2010.
The award updates Annex B of the P-8A system specification to include additional requirements associated with the Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS)/P-8A interface requirement specification (IRS). The IRS refines requirements for the integration of the AAS maritime and littoral intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance radar, and the associated special mission cabin equipment on P-8 aircraft.
July 31/09: AAS/ LSRS. Raytheon announces a multi-year contract authorizing development of the Advanced Airborne Sensor, the follow-on to the canoe-shaped Littoral Surveillance Radar System (LSRS) that equips the most advanced P-3Cs.
As the sensor prime contractor, Raytheon will oversee development, production and installation of the AAS on the P-8A. Raytheon will work closely with its associate prime contractor, Boeing, for engineering, aircraft modifications, integration and flight test.
July 30/09: Final SDD order. A $334.7 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-04-C-3146) for a P-8A Stage II test aircraft with mission systems installed. This is the 3rd and final option aircraft under the original System Development & Demonstration contract. This contract also covers modifications and engineering work needed to turn these 3 additional test aircraft into “production representative” airplanes, and the spares needed to support them.
Contracts under the SDD and test acquisition phase have now grown to about $4.5 billion, and include 8 ordered planes: 6 flight test aircraft, a full-scale static loads test airframe, and a full-scale fatigue test airframe. Two of the flight test aircraft have already successfully flown as part of a Boeing relocation and system flight check process. Testing on the static loads airframe is underway, and the Navy will begin formal flight testing later in 2009.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (82.4%); Norwalk, CT (4.6%); Oklahoma City, OK (4.3%); McKinney, TX (3.4%); Greenlawn, NY (3%); and North Amityville, NY (2.3%), and is expected to be complete in April 2013.
SDD ends at $4.5 billion
July 30/09: P-8A Unveiled. Boeing and the U.S. Navy formally unveil the P-8A Poseidon, during a ceremony at the Boeing facility in Renton, WA. US Navy release | NAVAIR release | Boeing release.
July 2/09: Infrastructure. DCK North America, LLC in Large, PA wins a $37.9 million firm-fixed-price contract to design and build an Operational Training Facility for P-8A aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL. The facility will include space for 10 Operational Flight Trainers (OFT), 8 Weapons Tactics Trainers, 4 Part Task Trainers, support equipment, bridge cranes over the OFTs, computer based training stations, internal and external network communication equipment, training media storage, maintenance support shops, administrative offices, student study rooms, briefing areas, communications closets, and Secure Compartmented Information Facilities.
Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL, and is expected to be complete by June 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 21 proposals received in Phase I and 7 Phase I offerors selected to proceed to Phase II. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast in Jacksonville, FL manages this contract (N69450-09-C-1257).
The award is subsequently overturned, following a GAO protest and re-compete.
June-July 2009: The US Navy reviews its future needs and decides that the P-8A program needs to grow to 117 operational aircraft, instead of 108.
May 6/09: Australia MoU. Australia announces a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States Navy (USN) to cooperatively develop upgrades to the P-8A Poseidon aircraft and its support systems. Cooperation will begin on P-8A Spiral One. Australia’s DoD hopes the information will help them understand the aircraft better before the final purchase and timing decisions begin, influence the direction of P-8A improvements, and provide early opportunities for Australian industry to become part of the global program.
This ministerial release has raised the total value of Australia’s 8-plane “AIR 7000, Phase 2” program to A$ 5 billion (currently about $3.7 billion) from A$ 4 billion on July 20/07 (see entry), when Australia granted “first pass approval” to the P-8.
May 5/09: Boeing rolls P-8 model T-2 out of the paint hangar at its Renton, WA, facility, displaying its U.S. Navy colors. T-2 is actually the 3rd of 5 test aircraft. Aircraft T-1 will be painted in the same gray paint scheme later this summer. Photo release.
May 2/09: Australia. Australia’s Defence White Paper reiterates its interest in 8 long-range maritime patrol aircraft, as part of an A$ 5 billion “AIR 7000, Phase 2” program. Boeing’s P-8A will be that aircraft, unless something goes very wrong on the path to a final contract.
April 25/09: 1st flight. Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon test aircraft #T-1 successfully completes its 1st flight, spending 3:31 in the air and reaching a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet. Prior to takeoff, the P-8A team completed a limited series of flight checks, including engine starts and shutdowns. During the flight, test pilots performed airborne systems checks including engine accelerations and decelerations, autopilot flight modes, and auxiliary power unit shutdowns and starts.
After Boeing paints the aircraft, installs more test instrumentation, and conducts further ground tests, the integrated Navy/Boeing team will begin formal flight testing of the P-8A during Q3 2009. Boeing release.
April 13/09: LRIP-2 lead-in. Boeing in Seattle, WA received a $109.1 million advance acquisition contract to buy long lead-time materials in support of the P-8A’s low rate initial production (LRIP) Lot I orders, and reserve production line slots in support of P-8A LRIP Lot II.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (87%) and Baltimore, MD (13%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR(Federal Acquisition Regulations clause) 6.302-1 (N00019-09-C-0022).
March 12/09: India. In a notice to the US Congress, the State Department has said that it will license the direct commercial sale of P-8i aircraft to India, having factored in “political, military, economic, human rights and arms control considerations.” India’s domain-b.
A DCS buy doesn’t use a US military office as its agent, and is not subject to the same public notice provisions as a Foreign Military Sale buy. Even so, there are still some legal hurdles and agreements that must be present before a DCS item can be delivered to the customer.
Feb 11/09: India & EUMs. Reports surface that standard American provisions around “End Use Monitoring”, and information sharing restrictions that accompany American defense exports, are beginning to become a problem for the P-8i sale. Read “An EUM Bellwether? India/US Arms Deals Facing Crunch Over Conditions.”
Feb 2/09: Indian partners. The Wall Street Journal’s LiveMint reports that Boeing will buy aerospace structures and aviation electronics products worth at least INR 29.41 billion (about $600 million) from Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Dynamatic Technologies Ltd, HCL Technologies Ltd, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T), Wipro Ltd, and simulator-maker CAE’s subsidiary Macmet Technologies Ltd.
Wipro, HCL, L&T and HAL declined to comment, but a Dynamatics, executive confirmed that the firm had been chosen as a vendor. A BEL executive said the firm had entered into an agreement with Boeing for communication equipment, radars, electronic warfare systems and contract manufacturing, but a contract was yet to be signed. Swati Rangachari, a spokeswoman for Boeing in India:
“Our team is working on the offset strategy and will be in touch with industry partners in a while… We will concentrate in the areas of avionics (aviation electronics) and aerostructures.”
Meanwhile, Flight International takes a deeper look at India’s nascent private aerospace industry, and its challenges, in “Can India’s aerospace manufacturers step up?”
Jan 2/09: Basing. The US Navy formally announces its basing plans. the plan involves 13 squadrons: 1 “fleet replacement” (training) squadron and 5 operational squadrons at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, FL; 4 fleet squadrons at NAS Whidbey Island, WA; and 3 fleet squadrons at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, with periodic squadron detachment operations at NAS North Island. Introduction of the P-8A MMA squadrons is projected to begin no later than 2012, and is expected be complete by 2019.
This decision implements the preferred “alternative 5” identified in the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the Introduction of the P-8A Multi-Mission Aircraft into the U.S. Navy Fleet (q.v. Nov 20/08 entry). US Navy.
Dec 5/08: India contract. The Indian government announces that it has signed a $2.1 billion deal with Boeing for 8 maritime patrol aircraft in “P-8i” configuration. The $2.1 billion figure is the commonly reported total at the moment; DID cautions readers that exact dollar figures for Indian contracts often take some time to clarify. The contract reportedly includes lifetime maintenance support, and an option for another 8 aircraft. Indian Navy spokesman Commander Nirad Sinha:
“Though we have signed a deal, final clearance is still required from a U.S. authority… The first plane delivery is four years from the final contract signing, so I think it should come in 2013.”
Firm industrial agreements in India and decisions regarding indigenous Indian technologies for the P-8i are expected to follow, and Boeing’s release commits to delivering the 8th aircraft by 2015.
This order makes India the P-8 program’s lead export customer, and 2nd international participant. Australia has joined the program and given the P-8A what’s known as “first pass approval,” but any contract must wait for second pass approval from the government. See: Boeing | India Defence | CNN Money.
8 for India
Dec 29/08: India. The P-8I deal for India appears to be moving closer. India Defence reports that “virtually all the steps” required for the contract to be signed, including tabling of it in the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval, are complete. Reports place the deal at Rs 8,500 crore (about $1.7 billion) for 8 jets, with first delivery coming within 4 years and all deliveries by 2015. India currently flies 8 Tu-142s. India Defence | StrategyPage.
Dec 22/08: Bloomberg News reports that an Oct 31/08 budget memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England approved shifting away as much as $940 million from the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft program, in order to complete payment for the 3rd DDG-1000 destroyer that Congress partially funded in FY 2009. The Navy proposed getting 2 aircraft instead of 6 in the initial production phases.
Meanwhile, the US Navy faces significant challenges keeping the existing fleet of P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft in the air. Almost 1/4 of this aging fleet has been grounded due to safety concerns, and the Navy is forced to retire some aircraft every year. Even though they are in greater demand than ever over key sea lanes, and in overland surveillance roles on the front lines. Early introduction of the P-8A has been touted as critical to maintaining these capabilities, and avoiding both near-term and long-term shortfalls.
Nov 20/08: Basing. The US Navy releases environmental impact statements (EIS), and prepares to go ahead with its initial basing plan for the P-8A fleet. Under a “preferred” basing plan, 84 Poseidons would replace 120 of the older P-3C Orions. Their deployment would involve: 5 squadrons of 6 planes each at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL (30); another 4 squadrons at NAS Whidbey Island, WA (24); and 3 squadrons in Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe, Hawaii (18).
The goal would be to begin introducing the planes in 2012, and finish by 2019. The Navy still must issue a “record of decision” for the Poseidon plan.
NAS Brunswick was not considered as a potential home base because all P-3 aircraft and supporting functions are being transferred to NAS Jacksonville per the BRAC 2005 recommendations. The Navy did consider Hickam Air Force Base on Oahu as an alternative Hawaii site, but concluded there wasn’t enough land available at Hickam AFB to support them. US Navy P-8A EIS site | Seattle Post-Intelligencer | Seattle Times | Seattle Times re: Hawaii | Honolulu Advertiser, incl. other Kaneohe changes.
Nov 6/08: Engine cert. CFM International’s announces that its CFM56-7B27A/3 engine model has been jointly certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency for the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon, paving the way for flight tests in 2009 and initial operational capability in 2013. Each engine is rated at 27,300 pounds (121 kN) takeoff thrust, and the type has been subjected to extreme heat and icing conditions over extended periods of time as part of its certification.
CFM International (CFM) is a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (SAFRAN Group) and General Electric Company. The CFM56-7B family is very widely used in commercial aviation and powers other 737 military derivatives like the Boeing 737 AEW&C “Wedgetail” and the US military’s C-40 transport aircraft. CFM release.
Nov 2/08: Strike over. Boeing’s strike formally ends, after an agreement is reached between Boeing and the IAM.
US orders 1st planes; Live-fire testing; Boeing strike creates disruption; Indian interest becomes serious.
Sept 11/08: India. The Times of India reports on the Harpoon missile sale as just one of several pending buys, and says that:
“…This [Harpoon sale] comes even as India’s biggest-ever defence deal with US – the one to buy eight Boeing P-8i long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft for Rs 8,500 crore – has been sent for final clearance to the Cabinet Committee on Security after finalisation of commercial negotiations.”
Sept 10/08: Test plane order. Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $278 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-04-C-3146), exercising an option for 2 P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) aircraft with mission systems, in support of the System Development and Demonstration Phase of the MMA. This order covers 2 of the 3 test aircraft options included in the original SDD agreement.
Work will be performed in Seattle, WA (90%), and Wichita, KS (10%) once the strike ends, and is expected to be complete in September 2011.
1st aircraft ordered
Sept 9/08: India’s Harpoons. India looks to buy 20 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles and other items from Boeing, as part of a $170 million official request announced by the US DSCA. See: “India Requests Harpoon II Missiles” for more details.
This is the air-launched version of the Harpoon, but that missile – and especially its GPS-capable version – is not currently integrated with any of the aircraft in India’s current inventory. India also has its Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, and an air-launched version is currently in development and testing. A Harpoon buy appears to make little sense, except that P-8A aircraft could carry them without requiring an expensive integration project. Something that is not true for India’s existing Russian or French missiles. Which adds fuel to the rumors that a P-8 deal is close.
As it happens, the eventual July 2010 contract will equip India’s 10 Jaguar IM fighters in No.6 Squadron. The P-8i’s missiles have yet to be determined, and will be a separate Foreign Military sale.
India request – missiles
Sept 6/08: Strike! A strike begins at Boeing, shutting down production for any P-8 aircraft that are still in factory assembly. The potential exists for a long and damaging strike at Boeing; DID’s “Boeing Strike Poised to Disrupt Deliveries” covers the key issues and potential impacts.
Aug 12/08: Industrial. Boeing announces that the first P-8A Poseidon for the U.S. Navy has moved from factory assembly to systems integration and pre-flight work. Boeing IDS will now focus on calibrating the flight-test instrumentation on board the aircraft, before moving it to Boeing Field in Seattle early in 2009 for systems integration and additional testing.
Aug 10/08: India. Sindh Today reports that India ‘s contract negotiating committee has completed its report on price negotiations with Boeing, after Boeing won the technical bid and the trials of the product. Negotiations were reportedly stuck due to the end-user agreement, under which Boeing can conduct physical inspections of the aircraft as and when it wants to check if the product is being used for the purpose it has been acquired. This is linked to requirements under American ITAR laws, which regulate sales of military equipment whether they are conducted as FMS or direct commercial sales. India’s defence ministry reportedly separated that set of negotiations from the deal itself, knowing that a signed deal will be significantly harder to cancel, on either side.
The contract will reportedly be a direct commercial agreement between Boeing and the Indian Navy, rather than an announced Foreign Military Sale. The cost is reportedly around $2.2 billion, and that deal will now go to the defence acquisition committee (DAC) and then to the cabinet committee on security (CCS) for approval.
Aug 4/08: LRIP intent. NAVAIR discloses in a FebBizOpps notice that it expects to order 10 P-8A aircraft in fiscal 2010, followed by 12 in FY 2011 and 14 in FY 2012. That would make up the entire set of 36 during Low Rate Initial Production. LRIP is traditionally more expensive than full-rate production, and almost $6.3 billion is budgeted for that phase.
Boeing had said in 2004 that it could accelerate production and move up the first in-service unit by up to a year, from FY 2013 to FY 2012. Now, Flight International reports that “An airframe fatigue crisis facing the Lockheed P-3 Orion fleet has recently forced NAVAIR to publicly consider accepting Boeing’s offer…”
The 10 aircraft projected for FY 2010 would need to receive advance funding for long-lead items in the FY 2009 budget, and should be deliverable by 2012 to stand up one squadron. At the moment, 5 developmental prototypes are in various stages of assembly, with first flight in Q4 2009. As one can see, the timeline for accelerated production hinges strongly on the avoidance of any major engineering or testing issues that delay the P-8A’s progress.
May 20/08: Industrial. P-8 production begins using moving assembly line techniques, which were pioneered with other aircraft. The P-8s will be positioned in a straight-line configuration on the factory floor and stay at a production station for a period of time before advancing to the next station. Standard processes, visual control systems and point-of-use staging are in place, allowing work to flow continuously and quickly. Boeing release.
May 1/08: Industrial. Boeing joins the wing assembly and fuselage of the first P-8A Poseidon in Renton, WA. The next major P-8A assembly milestone will be engine installation this summer. Boeing’s release says that the team remains on track for delivery of the first test aircraft to the Navy in 2009.
April 20/08: India. India’s NDTV reports that:
“India is set to sign a $2.2 billion deal, its biggest with the US, for eight long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft, even as the Indian Navy chief opposed ”intrusiveness” in the use of military hardware the country purchases. Negotiations for the purchase of the Boeing-P8I LRMR aircraft are in the final stages and are likely to be wrapped up during Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s visit to the US that began Sunday [DID: That did not happen]. The agreement for the purchase under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route will be signed between the two governments in New Delhi later this year, official sources said.”
“India is set to sign a $2.2 billion deal, its biggest with the US, for eight long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft, even as the Indian Navy chief opposed ”intrusiveness” in the use of military hardware the country purchases.
Negotiations for the purchase of the Boeing-P8I LRMR aircraft are in the final stages and are likely to be wrapped up during Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s visit to the US that began Sunday [DID: That did not happen]. The agreement for the purchase under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route will be signed between the two governments in New Delhi later this year, official sources said.”
March 18/08: MX-20 picked. Boeing picks L-3 Communications Wescam to supply its MX-20HD EO/IR multi-spectral sensor turrets as the P-8A’s digital electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) imaging sensors. L-3 Wescam’s turrets use Enhanced Range Local Area Processing (ELAP) technology to produce real-time image enhancement for EO Day, EO Night & IR video that extends their surveillance range, clarifies the picture, and offers maximum haze penetration.
Deliveries are scheduled to begin in mid-2008. Wescam turrets also serve on Britain’s updated Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft. L-3 Wescam release.
Dec 11/07: Sub-contractors. Team Boeing and the US Navy celebrate the start of P-8A fuselage production at Spirit AeroSystems’ Wichita, KS facility, loading the first P-8A fuselage component into a holding fixture on the factory floor. The fuselage assemblies eventually will come together on Spirit’s existing Next-Generation 737 production line. In early 2008, Spirit will ship the first P-8A fuselage to Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Renton, WA for wing assemblies and systems integration. NAVAIR release | Boeing release.
Oct 22/07: Just shoot me. Boeing announces that its P-8A Poseidon team completed the program’s 200th live-fire shot in September 2007, at the U.S. Navy’s Weapons Survivability Laboratory in China Lake, CA. During testing, live ordnance is fired into simulated aircraft sections to replicate a potential threat environment. Dry bays are locations adjacent to fuel that also may contain electrical and hydraulic lines, as well as environmental control systems or engine bleed-air lines. The systems being designed and developed will ensure that dry bay fires are automatically detected and suppressed.
P-8A fire suppression testing began in April 2005, and will continue through 2009. Full-scale live-fire testing is slated for 2012 using the P-8A static test aircraft. Boeing release.
Nose radar becomes APY-10; Curtain lifted on larger LSRS radar; CDR goes well; Australian approval, and Indian interest.
Aug 9/07: Sub-contractors. Boeing announces that Spirit AeroSystems has joined its P-8A Poseidon industry team. Spirit will build the 737 aircraft’s fuselage and airframe tail sections and struts in Wichita, KS. After completion, Spirit will ship the components to Boeing facilities in Renton, WA for final assembly and introduction of mission-specific systems. Spirit is also part of Boeing’s KC-767 team, and works with Boeing as a partner to produce many of its civilian aircraft.
July 20/07: Australia. Australia grants first pass approval for Phase 2 of its AIR 7000 program, which is the manned aircraft portion. First pass approval allows Australia’s Department of Defence to commence formal negotiations with the United States Navy join the P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) program; Phase 2 is currently estimated at A$ 4 billion (currently about USD$ 3.52 billion). Australian DoD release.
AIR 7000, Phase 1 involves a Multi-mission Unmanned Aerial System to accompany/ supplement the manned Phase 2 aircraft. Australia gave First Pass Approval to that segment in May 2006, and a final decision and contract regarding participation in the USA’s BAMS program is expected by the end of 2007. These 2 components will replace Australia’s AP-3C Orion aircraft, which are scheduled for retirement in 2018 after over 30 years of service.
July 3/07: India. Defense News reports that Indian officials will be studying Boeing’s P-8A and Airbus A319 aircraft in France, Germany, Spain and the United States as they prepare for a decision re: their maritime patrol aircraft competition.
Don’t get too excited yet; bids were submitted back in April 2006, but that’s only the very beginning. Indian officials will be sending preliminary evaluations go to the MoD by September 2007, which will lead to a short list of bidders. A preliminary decision and price negotiations will begin “within two years,” i.e. by mid-2009. Past experience has demonstrated that such price negotiations can take years themselves – or even sink deals entirely, something that has happened repeatedly during India’s attempts to purchase second-hand Mirage 2000 fighters.
June 18/07: Sub-contractors. United Technologies subsidiary Hamilton Sundstrand, announces that its Kidde Aerospace & Defense unit has been selected to supply Dry Bay Fire Protection Systems for the Boeing P-8A. The non-halon Dry Bay Fire Protection System will detect and suppress fires and explosions in the aircraft’s compartments in case flammable fluids leak in due to ballistic damage or system faults. The potential program value could exceed $100 million for both domestic and international sales over the life of the program.
Hamilton Sundstrand had previously been selected to supply the electric power generating system, power distribution and cooling systems on the P-8A. Hamilton Sundstrand release.
June 15/07: Perfect CDR. The P-8A Poseidon successfully completes its Critical Design Review (CDR) at Boeing facilities in Seattle, WA, without a single request for action. A CDR without a single request for action is a fairly rare event, and the July 3/07 NAVAIR release explicitly complimented Boeing’s team on their achievement.
The program will seek approval in a summer 2007 program readiness review to build 2 test aircraft before the next milestone decision to enter full-rate production of the Poseidon. Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Dr. Delores Etter would be the approving executive. NAVAIR release.
May 17/07: LSRS. Ares blog at Aviation Week Reveals the Littoral Surveillance Radar System (LSRS) that equips a few P-3Cs, and will equip the P-8A.
Bill Sweetman discusses the radar, explains the likely link to a design modification made by Boeing early in the program, and notes the possible convergence of the Navy’s P-8A’s mission with the overland surveillance job done by the USAF’s E-8C JSTARS – though NATO’s Airbus 321-based AGS, with its own UAV companion, would appear to be an even closer comparison.
March 29/07: Infrastructure. Sauer, Inc. in Jacksonville, FL received $14.7 million for task #0001 under previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N62477-04-D-0036) for the Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) Test Facilities supporting the MMA Program at Patuxent River, MD. Work will be performed in Patuxent River, MD, and is expected to be complete March 2009. This contract was competitively procured, with 2 proposals received by The Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Washington, DC.
Jan 9/07: P-8A MMA formally given the designation “Poseidon”.
June 28/06: Infrastructure. John C. Grimberg Co. Inc. in Rockville, MD won a $6.1 million for firm-fixed-price task order 0009 under a previously awarded indefinite-quantity, multiple-award construction contract. The funds cover design and construction of P-8 aircraft test facilities at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. It is the first of two projects that together will support the maintenance testing and instrumentation needs of the P-8 MMA program. This phase will build a new 2-story P-8 MMA test complex building on a wooded site adjacent to Building 1463 and across the street from Hangar 305. The building will include engineering offices, maintenance and telecommunications rooms. Work is expected to be completed by July 2007.
The basic contract was competitively procured via the NAVFAC e-solicitation website, with 17 proposals received and an award made on July 22, 2004. The total contract amount is not to exceed $500 million over the base period and 4 option years, and the 7 approved contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the existing contract. Two proposals were received for this task order by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Washington, DC.
June 6/06: “Raytheon P-8A MMA Radar Receives New AN/APY-10 Nomenclature.” As this August 24 release notes, key portions were also delivered to Boeing early for integration into the P-8A.
Competition contracts, but Boeing’s 737 wins; Wing design changes; PDR; Milestone B.
Feb 23/06: Testing. Boeing announces the completion of P-8A weapons separation wind tunnel tests at the Arnold Air Force Base Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, TN. These help to ensure that explosives-filled weapons won’t blow up the aircraft when dropped. See release.
Nov 21/05: See DID’s article “Boeing Wins $24M for P-8A & BAMS-Related Software Development”
Nov 9/05: PDR. Boeing announces a successful P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) program Preliminary Design Review. During the 5-day session, Navy representatives reviewed the P-8A’s system architecture and initial design to ensure the Boeing-led industry team is on target to meet program performance requirements and can proceed to detailed design. Boeing adds that the integrated team must complete 9 action items before the PDR can be considered officially “closed” or complete.
The next major program milestone will be a Critical Design Review, scheduled for 2007. See Boeing release.
June 2/05: Boeing announces an altered P-8A wing design to improve low-level performance, changing the wing extension from a blended winglet to a raked or backswept wingtip. See DID coverage.
April 5-7/05: SFR. The U.S. Navy’s P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) program successfully completes its System Functional Review (SFR), receiving approval from the technical review board (TRB) to proceed toward the design phase – effectively, Milestone B. The review board assessed system requirements and functional performance to determine that all requirements and performance allocations are defined and consistent with cost, schedule and risk constraints.
Stu Young, chairman of the SFR board and technical director for the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems division, said “Their progress since award is remarkable.” The next step, a Preliminary Design Review, is scheduled for September 2005. See Boeing release.
April 18/05: Boeing’s team announces a competition for fire-suppression systems in the P-8’s dry bays adjacent to fuel tanks containing electrical and hydraulic lines, environmental control systems, or engine bleed air lines.
The testing program involves two “iron bird” test fixtures. A gun will fire an explosive projectile to ignite a fire in the bay, while inflicting only moderate damage to the test fixture. Preliminary tests are scheduled for April-May 2005. Development and verification testing of the selected systems will continue through 2009. Full-scale live-fire testing is scheduled for 2012 using the P-8A static test aircraft. There’s more in the full Boeing release.
April 13/05: Boeing’s P-8 team announces the completion of 1,300 hours of high-speed wind-tunnel testing a full week ahead of schedule on March 18, 2005. The team conducted the tests at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffet Field, CA, using a 6.2 percent scale model in the 11-ft. transonic wind tunnel. Previous low-speed wind tunnel tests in Boeing’s 20 x 20 ft. subsonic wind tunnel facility in Philadelphia, PA looked at a variety of unique features, in addition to the basic stability of the aircraft with weapons bay door open, or flaps down, or landing gear down to simulate takeoff and landing conditions.
Preliminary analysis of test data revealed no major surprises or obvious problems, and the team took measures to improve test productivity that saved 200 hours of the testing time. See Boeing high-speed release | low speed release.
Sept 30/04: The Boeing Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) program successfully passes an in-depth, 3-day System Requirements Review (SRR) by the U.S. Navy. See Boeing release.
June 14/04: Boeing! Boeing’s team receives a $3.89 billion contract to build the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA). The award goes to Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, CA as a cost-plus-award-fee contract for the System Development and Demonstration of the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft. The team will produce 7 test aircraft during the program’s System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase.
Work will be performed in Long Beach, CA (91%); Baltimore, MD (4%); McKinney, TX (2.5%); Grand Rapids, MI (1.25%); and Cincinnati, OH (1.25%), and is expected to be complete in June 2012. This contract was competitively procured under a request for proposals, with 2 proposals solicited [DID: Boeing & Lockheed) and 2 offers received by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-04-C-3146).
Boeing states that the P-8 MMA program will employ about 1,600 people at IDS facilities in St. Louis, MO; Seattle, WA; and Patuxent River, MD. See also Boeing release.
Boeing wins SDD
Nov 13/03: Boeing Announces Formation of MMA Industry Team.
Feb 20/03: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Marietta, GA receives a $20.5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, multiple award contract (N00019-02-C-3253) to conduct phase II of the multi-mission maritime aircraft component advanced development effort. Work will be performed in Marietta and is to be completed in May 2004. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Lockheed Martin release.
Feb 6/03: Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Long Beach, CA receives a $20.5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, multiple-award contract (N00019-02-C-3249) for Phase II of the Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft Program’s Component Advanced Development effort. During CAD Phase II, Boeing will develop and demonstrate key features of the mission system including systems architecture, software, displays and sensors, along with additional air vehicle performance analysis. The Navy plans to award a single contract for MMA System Development and Demonstration, or SDD, in early 2004.
Work will be performed in Puget Sound, WA (54%) and Long Beach, CA (46%), and is to be complete in May 2004. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity. Boeing.
Phase II development competition
Sept 12/02: Boeing announces that they have received one of two contracts for Component Advanced Development, or CAD, of the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft, or MMA program. The contract is valued at almost $7 million.
During CAD Phase I, contractors are expected to validate risk mitigations for each concept via modeling and simulation; define and select system architecture; and refine system requirements, validate the operational requirements document, seek source selection for system development and demonstration, and develop milestone-B acquisition documentation. Once this five-month effort is complete, the Navy will choose two or three preferred concepts to be carried forward into CAD Phase II. These concepts will then be further refined and will form the basis of competitive proposals for a single contract award for MMA System Development and Demonstration (SDD), expected in early 2004. See Boeing release.
Sept 12/02: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. announces a $7 million contract for Phase I of the U.S. Navy’s Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) Component Advanced Development (CAD) program.
In its release, Lockheed touts a rigorous system engineering and program management processes and tools to quantify and reduce system risks and to develop detailed plans and schedules for future phases of the program; “these include the successful risk-management approach developed during the JSF concept demonstration program. “In addition, full-scale fatigue test data developed during the P-3 Service Life Assessment program will directly benefit the MMA platform, further reducing program risk… Lockheed Martin’s proposed integrated support system approach is a blend of commercial best practices and proven technologies leveraged from military programs, including the S-3 Prime Vendor Support (PVS) and the F-117 Total System Performance Responsibility programs. S-3 PVS has reduced overall depot-level scheduled maintenance costs by nearly 50 percent, increased aircraft availability by 25 percent and reduced scheduled maintenance tasks by 57 percent.”
Phase I development competition
The P-8 replaces the P-3 Orion aircraft currently in service with 15 countries. The question is, will that be enough to ensure market success?
The Indian Navy’s interest in joining the P-8 program was communicated in 2005, and some Indian Navy sources believed that a Air India’s decision to spend $6 billion on 50 Boeing civil jets would incline Boeing toward a favorable response. Whether or not that purchase was a factor, it’s a matter of record that Boeing submitted a bid involving 8 737-derived P-8 aircraft for India’s Maritime Patrol Aircraft competition – and won.
The P-8A matches the operational profile currently assigned to the Indian Navy’s Russian-made Tupolev-142 “Bear” and Ilyushin-38 “May” long-range reconnaissance, maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. It faced strong competition, and its 2015 delivery schedule was a potential issue the bid; but other factors were also at work, and the plane won.
Discussions concerning the P-8 came in the wake a 2005 visit to India by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, in which the USA expressed its desire to make improvements in their strategic relationship. Given the two nations’ shared interest in an arc that stretches from the Staits of Malacca to the coast of East Africa, many analysts see naval cooperation as the likely linchpin of their future military relationship. Washington’s initial offer of at least 12 P-3C Orions would have matched India’s requirements profile immediately, but participation in the P-8A offered an aircraft with superior performance in all respects, a much longer operational lifespan, plus accompanying strategic, industrial, and prestige benefits. Some analysts considered the request a sort of test by India of its long-term importance to the USA. If so, it appears that the relationship has passed the test.
What about sales beyond India?
By mid-2005, age had shrunk the global P-3 fleet to something on the order of 225 P-3 type aircraft flying on behalf of 15 countries. Even so, this represents a substantial market. The question is, who will claim it?
Some nations who fly the P-3 already have a natural interest in the P-8, while others like India recognize its obvious usefulness against both the diesel submarine threat and a variety of threats related to the war on terrorism, anti-drug efforts, et. al. As such, the market opportunity for the MMA could be quite substantial. A 2004 story in Aviation Week said that Boeing believes there are opportunities to sell 100 to 150 P-8s abroad.
Subsequent developments have cast doubt on that forecast.
At the end of 2004, Australia, Canada, and Italy were named by the U.S. government as being the most likely partners in the development of the P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA). Each potential international partner would be expected to contribute approximately $300 million toward the development of the P-8A. The U.S. also approached other allies but according to eDefense they were “less responsive,” raising the prospect of a competing European system at some future date based on an Airbus airframe – or even a more complete bifurcation of the maritime surveillance market.
The US Navy entered formal talks with Australia, Canada, and Italy, but nobody opted in. Australia has since taken strong steps toward buying P-8As, but Canada has made no commitments of any kind, and Italy has since taken steps to purchase ATR twin-turboprop maritime patrol aircraft instead.
This lack of interest has to concern Boeing, because the P-3’s successor will not be the only game in town. The EU’s focus on developing a rival defense industry, and European states’ reduced need to patrol long sea lanes in the absence of a global Soviet threat, are creating a number of smaller competitors. These include aircraft like the French Falcon Surmar, and the EADS/CASA CN-235MP Persuader already ordered by Spain, Indonesia, Ireland, Turkey, UAE, and the US Coast Guard. Italy is exporting ATR-42MP turboprops and flying them in their Coast Guard, while building larger versions based on the popular ATR-72 for customers like Turkey. Then there are new entrants like Brazil, whose P-99 MPA is based on their successful ERJ-145 regional jet.
During the P-3’s era, long over-water patrols of the vital Atlantic sea lanes were an absolute necessity for all NATO members, lest Soviet submarines destroy all hope of reinforcements from America. With the demise of the Soviet Union, that need is gone. European maritime surveillance and attack requirements have shrunk sharply, and many countries see the P-8’s range and endurance parameters as unnecessary.
As a result, the global maritime patrol category appears to be bifurcating into a broad class of nations who buy smaller and less capable options based on passenger/utility turboprops, business jets, or even long-endurance UAVs, and an elite few with more extensive requirements who can and will buy aircraft in the P-8A’s class.
The USA still faces strategic naval competitors, and its aircraft must still cover long sea lanes. This geographic need is shared to varying degrees by a few other nations like Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Denmark, France, India, Japan, Oman, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, and the UAE. France (ATL3, Falcon 50 Surmar bizjet derivative) and Japan (P-X jet) each have their own programs, and neither Russia nor China are eligible customers for American or European aircraft. Australia, India, and the USA are already on board with the P-8A. Which countries join them likely boils down to how many of the remaining countries (Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, plus rich “prestige buyers” in the Middle East), eventually choose to include aircraft with the P-8’s range, equipment, and performance.
Boeing is looking to cover its bases via a Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) partnership with Canada’s Bombardier and Field Aviation. The Challenger 605 large business jet’s base range of 4,000 nmi/ 7,408 km is better than the P-8’s base 737-800 airframe’s, its operating costs will be lower than a 737’s, and its wide cabin is well suited to special mission crews and equipment. The MSA expected to use the P-8’s core mission system, but its size will preclude use of some P-8 sensors, and it won’t be armed. Field Aviation is modifying a Bombardier Challenger 604 jet, and expects to hand it over for initial testing and presentation to potential customers in 2014.
DID – P-8i: India’s Navy Picks Its Future High-End Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
DID – Kicking it Up a Notch: Poseidon’s Unmanned MQ-4C BAMS Companion.
As always, DID relies heavily on Pentagon budget documents for its charts, etc.
Nav Log – The P-8: The Adventure Continues. Deeply doubts that the USN will buy the number it plans to buy.
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics [AIAA] Aerospace America Magazine, via WayBack (April 2002) – Maritime patrol market: Escaping the doldrums. By the Teal Group, an aerospace industry analyst firm. Very good at outlining the contours of the P-8’s market, as well as some of the turboprop vs. jet trade-offs.
GlobalSecurity.org – P-3 Orion.
CASR – Aurora Alternatives – EADS MPA320 / MPA319. The A319 MPA doesn’t have many other sources. This article explains why – it was originally an A320 MPA, but Spain and Italy chose cheaper alternatives. Changes were made, and India was the launch customer target for the “MPA319-CJ”, but Boeing’s P-8i won instead and that may be the end of the Airbus platform. See also Flight International’s “EADS proposes maritime variant of Airbus A319 with bomb bay doors for India.”
Britain’s RAF – Sentinel R1. A modified Bombardier Global Express long-range business jet.
Foxtrot Alpha (July 4/14) – Confessions Of A US Navy P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol Pilot. Lots of excellent background and quotes.
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