Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon program has a lot to feel good about. Not only has the aircraft been the star of the Navy in Pacific Theater as of late, but Australia has just ordered four of the maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft, officially making them the third operator of the type. The U.S. Navy also put in an order for nine more of the jets.
Yesterday’s order will bring the Navy’s total Poseidon order book to 62, with 28 of the jets already delivered. The Navy plans on buying 114 P-8s at an estimated cost of $32.8 billion according to DoDBuzz.com. This works out to almost $288 million per aircraft. That’s one expensive maritime patrol jet. The aircraft will replace its aging P-3C Orion counterpart.
The P-8 is proving itself capable of a whole array of missions, including some surveillance roles that were once the mission of dedicated aircraft alone. Additionally, its ability to mount various large sensor arrays underneath its belly, such as one of the world’s most advanced aerial radars and a shadowy communications pod, has shown surprising versatility for such a new weapons system.
Australia looks to order at least eight P-8s, with an option for another four, along with Broad Area Maritime Surveillance drones, most likely the MQ-4C Trident, which will collectively replace Australia’s own AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft inventory.
Boeing and the Navy think the number of countries operating the P-8 will grow, possibly including countries like the UK and Norway in the not so distant future.
Those involved directly with the P-8 have compared the jet to the F-35 when it comes to commonality and exportability. Hopes are high that the relatively young platform will proliferate among allies in the coming years, although its price tag is a potential hurdle for less affluent countries. With this in mind, Boeing has developed the Challenger business jet-based Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which has subsystems commonality with the P-8 and is built to interoperate with it, but supposedly has a much lower price tag.
Image Credits: Top shot- US Navy. Bottom shot- Boeing
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