A P-8A Poseidon assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 flies over Jacksonville, Fla. (PS1 Anthony Petry / U.S. Navy)
The U.S. Navy's P-8A Poseidon has entered full-rate production, despite the Pentagon discovering major problems with the aircraft.
Naval Air Systems Command announced that the P-8A had received the go-ahead from the FRP Production Milestone Decision Authority on January 3. The Navy is scheduled to receive 117 Poseidons. This includes 37 low-rate initial production aircraft, of which 13 have already been delivered. The P-8A will replace the venerable P-3C.
The current Increment 1 of the P-8A is equipped with persistent anti-warfare capabilities, an integrated sensor suite and improved situational awareness. The next program milestone is Increment 2, slated for 2016, will include multi-static active coherent acoustics, automated identification system, and high-altitude anti-submarine weapons, according to a NAVAIR news release.
"This significant milestone approval moves the program from low-rate into full-rate production, and allows us to manufacture the remaining aircraft over the next several years with an opportunity for a cost-effective procurement," said Cmdr. Tony Rossi, the integrated product team lead for the P-8A program.
“The team has accomplished a lot over the last six months, from passing the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation period this summer to achieving IOC this fall and the P-8's first operational deployment this winter," said Capt. Scott Dillon, program manager of the Navy's PMA-290 Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office
Despite the stamp of approval, Bloomberg reports that the Pentagon's weapons testing office has concluded that the P-8A is not yet capable of performing wide-area anti-submarine warfare or ISR missions. The plane’s radar performance, sensor integration and data transfer are among the flaws that Michael Gilmore, chief of the Pentagon testing office, described in an unreleased annual report on major weapons, according to the Bloomberg article.