The P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft participates in a flying display at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow. (The Boeing Co.)
FARNBOROUGH, ENGLAND — As speculation grows that the UK could be interested in the Boeing P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, a Boeing official said the firm is looking at using its C-17 lease deal with the UK as a model for future P-8 customers.
Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow on Tuesday, a Boeing official declined to state if any talks were under way with the UK on the 737-based aircraft, but the UK is known to be seeking a new maritime patrol asset.
“In today’s budget environment, we are looking at all methods (of acquisition). Leasing would be an option and the C-17 lease to the UK is a model we have studied for the P-8,” said Fred Smith, business development director, Boeing mobility, surveillance and engagement.
In an interview this month with Defense News, Philip Dunne, UK defense equipment, support and technology minister, did not rule out a lease deal on a new maritime patrol aircraft, and also praised the UK purchase deal of the US Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft, which has seen the UK join a users club with the USAF.
In the meantime, UK crews have been training with the P-8 as part of the UK Seedcorn initiative designed to keep up know-how after the cancellation of the Nimrod program, said Capt. Scott Dillon, program manager for the US Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office.
Boeing now has 53 P-8 aircraft under contract and is producing one a month, said Smith. Australia signed for eight aircraft in February while India received the fourth of its eight aircraft order in May.
Smith said the program has proved so efficient, it saved $2.1 billion on 2004 estimates of the cost of production. The aircraft is now selling for $150 million, down from the forecasted $216 million. ■