Friday, December 21, 2007

First P-8A Poseidon Begins Production

By Kristine Wilcox, PMA-290 Communications

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy and its Poseidon industry team marked the beginning of the P-8A production at a ceremony hosted by Spirit AeroSystems Wichita, Kan., facility, Dec. 11.

The P-8A is the first Navy aircraft to be produced on an existing commercial production line.

"It has been a long time coming, but the P-8A is a reality," said Capt. Joe Rixey, Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft program manager. "I can't be more proud of the partnership between the Navy and Poseidon industry team. They have worked hard to design an aircraft that will replace the legendary P-3C Orion and take our warfighters into the next generation of maritime patrol."

The team loaded the first P-8A fuselage component into a holding fixture on the factory floor during the ceremony attended by Navy program leadership, Spirit employees and representatives from Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

The P-8A fuselage, a derivative of Boeing's Next Generation 737-800, will be built at Spirit then shipped to Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Renton, Wash., for wing assemblies.

"Starting production of the first aircraft is a significant milestone for the P-8A program as we remain focused and committed to delivering this critical weapons system to the fleet on schedule," said Capt. Mike Moran, P-8A Poseidon program lead.

The P-8A, designed to replace the Fleet's P-3C aircraft, is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area maritime operations. It will be equipped with an advanced mission system designed for maximum interoperability in the future battle space. The U.S. Navy plans to purchase 108 P-8A aircraft.Initial operating capability is scheduled for 2013, with full operational capability planned for 2019.