Employees work to complete three P-8As at Boeing's Installation and Check Out facility at Boeing Field in Seattle. The aircraft are modified versions of the basic Boeing 737 passenger jetliner. (Christopher P. Cavas/Defense News)
WASHINGTON — A major $2 billion contract award has assured continued production of the P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft at Boeing’s facilities in Renton, Wash.
The award, announced Wednesday, is for 13 low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot IV aircraft for the US Navy, along with 13 mission equipment sets and long-lead parts for the manufacture of 16 full-rate production Lot I aircraft.
The aircraft are funded in fiscal 2013 procurement monies.
A total of 117 P-8As will replace the current fleet of P-3C Orion aircraft.
So far, nine LRIP aircraft have been delivered to the fleet, along with six test aircraft delivered to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).
The program passed its Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) requirement July 1, meaning the aircraft was found to be “operationally effective, operationally suitable, and ready for fleet introduction,” according to NAVAIR.
As part of the test phase, a P-8A successfully launched a Harpoon AGM-84D Block IC missile on June 24 at a target on the Point Mugu Sea Test Range off the California coast.
Completion of IOT&E, NAVAIR said in a press release, keeps the P-8A program on track for an initial operational deployment this winter when the first P-8A squadron will deploy with P-3 and EP-3 Aries squadrons.