Boeing has announced the receipt of a new order for its P-8A Poseidon maritime patroller. Worth $2.4 billion, the contract covers 16 new aircraft for the U.S. Navy. Significantly, the order moves the program into full-rate production, earlier aircraft having been ordered on a low-rate initial production (LRIP) basis. A move to full-rate production had been delayed while Boeing proved that the P-8 could meet its 25-year life, plus other mission-related requirements.
Lockheed P-3 Orion
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced today that the country’s government has approved the purchase of eight Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. The first aircraft is scheduled to enter service at RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia in 2017, and all eight are due for delivery by 2021. The initial deal is worth AUS$4 billion ($3.59 billion), of which around a quarter will be spent in Australia on aircraft support and base facilities. A further four aircraft are held as options. Australia becomes the second export customer for the Poseidon, following India.
L-3 Mission Integration has selected Rockwell Collins’ Flight2 avionics for the Republic of Korea Navy P-3C upgrade. L-3 is a subcontractor to Korean Air, which is performing the upgrade.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) last month signed two contracts for a new training system to replace its ageing Pacific Aerospace CT-4E Airtrainer piston-engined trainers–currently shared by the Central Flying School and Pilot Training School.
At the heart of the new $128 million system are 11 Beechcraft T-6C Texan II turboprop trainers and two CAE simulators. The contracts also cover parts, training, logistics and maintenance support. Local company Safe Air has been selected as sub-contractor to assist with implementation of the system.
In an unexpected move, the Republic of Korea Navy is pursuing a U.S. offer to supply 20 Lockheed Martin S-3A Viking twinjets for maritime surveillance. The service told legislators in Seoul that this is a lower-cost option for expanding this capability compared to acquiring refurbished P-3C Orions from the same manufacturer to add to the current fleet of 16, or new aircraft such as the Airbus Military C295, Boeing P-8 Poseidon, or Lockheed Martin SC-130J Hercules.
The U.S. Navy declared operational readiness of the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and deployed the first Poseidons to the Asia Pacific region earlier this month.
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou ceremonially welcomed the first Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft at Pingtung airbase on October 31. Three days later, the island’s first six Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters arrived from the U.S. by sea. Neither event was publicized by the U.S. government or the contractors, no doubt because of concern that mainland China would react adversely.
The U.S. Navy declared the P-8A Poseidon ready to join the fleet following completion of the aircraft’s initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) phase. The Navy issued its IOT&E report on July 1, according to the Naval Air Systems Command (Navair). The service conducted testing from last September to March.