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FF 25 April 2009. 169 Orders (US Navy 128, India 12, Australia 17, UK 9, Norway 5, Republic of Korea Navy 6, Royal New Zealand Air Force 4, Germany 5)

The P-8A was originally known as the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA). Jack Zerr, programme manager, described the aircraft as “A bit of JSTARS (Joint Surveillance Acquisition Radar System), a little bit of AWACS and a little bit of MC2A (Multirole Command and Control), but with the added ability to go and kill a submarine.”

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P8-A Labelled diagram

The P-8 displaying at Farnborough Air Show in 2014 with bomb doors open and dummy AGM-84D Harpoon anti-shipping missiles Photo: Kevin Dawes

The MMA, US Navy designation “P-8A Poseidon” and Indian Navy designation “P-8I”, is based on the 737-800ERX, with raked wingtips and wing anti-ice along all leading edge slats. A weapons bay aft of the wing carries internal stores such as Mark 54 torpedoes and Mk-82 depth charges. There are four underwing hard-points for AGM-84D Harpoon or similar.

P8-A with AGM-84D Harpoon

The fuselage is strengthened for weapons employment and to permit ASW profiles. Up to seven mission consoles and a rotary sonobouy launcher can be fitted in the cabin. Like the AEW&C, the MMA has 180kVA IDGs as standard. The MMA has an unrefuelled radius of action of 1,200 miles with a time on station of 4 hours but also has an in-flight refuelling receptacle over the flight deck.

Surprisingly for a sub hunter the P-8A does not have a Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) as its primary detection methods are acoustic. This is because MADs work best at low altitude and the P-8A will be operating at high altitude to enable the aircraft to patrol large ocean areas as fuel-efficiently as possible. To compensate for the lack of a built-in MAD, the P-8 will use an unmanned drone equipped with the HAASW UTAS MAD sensor and algorithms. The Indian P-8I is externally distinguished from the P-8A by a CAE-supplied AN/ASQ-508A MAD located above the APU exhaust in the tail cone (see below).

P-8I MAD antenna

Unlike the P-8A, the P-8I has a Magnetic Anomaly Detector located above the APU exhaust

The nose faring has been extended slightly to accommodate the APS-137D(V)5 synthetic aperture radar for both coastal and overland surveillance (Not UK versions). In 2021 it was announced that the APS-137D(V)5 would be replaced by the Raytheon AN/APY-10 maritime, littoral and overland surveillance radar. The AN/APY-10 has reduced size, weight and power (SWaP); additional target track capability, a new color weather avoidance mode, and room for technology growth. The radar also will provide ultra-high-resolution imaging modes for maritime and overland operations.

There is retractable MX-20HD electro-optical/infrared sensor turret beneath the forward fuselage. The tail cone houses the AN/AAQ-24(V) Directional Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) system to protect it from infrared guided missiles. Smiths Aerospace provide the flight management system and the stores management system. The stores management system permits the accommodation of current and future weaponry. The basic open architecture of the MMA FMS is believed to have 1.9 million lines of code!

P-8A AN/AAQ-24(V) Directional Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM)

The directional infrared countermeasure (DIRCM) system is located beneath the APU exhaust

Another unique feature of the P-8A is the raked wingtips. These, and the horizontal and vertical stabilisers, are electrically de-iced by electro-mechanical expulsion de-icing systems (EMEDS). EMEDS shakes the ice off the surfaces by using actuators in the cavity behind the leading edge. They can dislodge ice thicker than 0.15cm (0.06in).

Much of the provisioning for the modifications is being done by Boeing during production to save time and cost at the conversion stage. Boeing has built a third production line which is dedicated to the MMA alongside the commercial 737 assembly. After the aircraft are assembled at Renton they are flown over to Boeing Field for mission system installation.

The flightdeck is similar but has an ASW tactics switch on the right forward instrument panel. This increases the maximum commanded bank angle from 28°to 45°. ASW also inhibits the EGPWS too low gear and flaps alerts. There is HGS for the left seat which includes GZ (vertical G) instead of angle-of-attack. The lower DU is used as a tactical situational awareness tool, showing pertinent flight tracks and sensor information. Video from sensors can be shown on the inward or lower display units. The autothrottle software has been tweaked to give faster engine responses required for more aggressive manoeuvring.


The original P-8As were known as “Increment 1” these have the basic tactical system.

Increment 2 became operational in 2016 and has multi-static active coherent acoustics, an automated identification system, and high-altitude anti-submarine weapons

Increment 3 focuses on network-ready open-systems electronics architecture and network-enabled weapons. It will enable the P-8A to carry the Harpoon Block II+ anti-ship missile and Link 16 datalink, as well as communications upgrades. It should be fully operational by 2023.


Photo: Indian Navy

30 Apr 2021 - India to buy 6 more P-8I's

The U.S. State Department on Friday 30 Apr 2021 that it had approved the proposed sale of six P-8I patrol aircraft and related equipment, a deal estimated to cost $2.42 billion.

The original proposal was for 10 more aircraft but was cut down to six due to budgetary constraints as well as because the Navy had adopted some fleet rationalisation measures and was considering long-endurance unmanned platforms.

“The Government of India has requested to buy six (6) P-8I Patrol aircraft; eight (8) Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Joint Tactical Radio Systems 5 (MIDS-JTRS 5) (6 installed, 2 spares); forty-two (42) AN/AAR-54 Missile Warning Sensors (36 installed, 6 spares); and fourteen (14) LN-251 with Embedded Global Positioning Systems (GPS)/Inertial Navigations Systems (EGIs) (12 installed, 2 spares). Also included are CFM56-7 commercial engines; Tactical Open Mission Software (ITOMS) variant for P-8I; Electro-Optical (EO) and Infrared (IR) MX-20HD; AN/AAQ-2(V)l Acoustic System; ARES-1000 commercial variant Electronic Support Measures; AN/APR-39D Radar Warning Receiver; AN/ALE-47 Counter Measures Dispensing System; support equipment and spares; publications; repair and return; transportation; aircraft ferry; training; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, software, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support,” the State Department said in a statement on Friday.

The Indian Navy is currently in the process of inducting the four P-8Is contracted under the offset clause in 2016. The Navy had procured eight P-8Is in a $2.2-billion deal in 2009 with the optional clause for four more. The aircraft are part of the 312A Naval Air Squadron based at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.

With India having signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) foundational agreement with the U.S., the six aircraft will come fitted with encrypted systems. These systems were replaced with commercial off-the-shelf systems in the earlier deals.

23 Feb 2021 - Radar upgrade for the P-8A.

Radar experts at Raytheon Technologies Corp. are providing the U.S. and allied navies with 23 advanced airborne radar systems for the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol,

surveillance, and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a $74.2 million four-year contract Friday to the Raytheon Intelligence & Space segment in McKinney, Texas, to provide 23 AN/APY-10 radar production kits for U.S. Navy and allied P-8A aircraft. The contract also includes support services.

The Raytheon AN/APY-10 maritime, littoral and overland surveillance radar is a relatively new design for the P-8A. Compared with the previous-generation AN/APS-137 radar, the AN/APY-10 has reduced size, weight and power (SWaP); additional target track capability, a new color weather avoidance mode, and room for technology growth, Raytheon officials say.

The AN/APY-10 is integrated into the Boeing mission control and display system aboard the Poseidon for control, display and data distribution. The radar also will provide ultra-high-resolution imaging modes for maritime and overland operations. The radar fits in the nose of the Poseidon.

On this order Raytheon will do the work in McKinney and Dallas, Texas; Andover and Chelmsford, Mass.; Torrance, Calif.; Woodland Park, N.J.; Black Mountain, N.C.; Etobicoke, Ontario; Clearwater, Fla.; and Simsbury, Conn., and should be finished by August 2025.

31 Mar 2020 - More P-8A Sales.

The U.S. Navy awarded Boeing [NYSE: BA] a $1.5 billion production contract for the next 18 P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The contract includes eight aircraft for the U.S. Navy, six aircraft for

the Republic of Korea Navy and four aircraft for the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The Republic of Korea Navy and Royal New Zealand Air Force acquired the aircraft through the Foreign Military Sales process and will receive the same P-8A Poseidon variant designed and produced for the U.S. Navy. The Royal New Zealand Air Force is expected to begin receiving aircraft in 2022 and the Republic of Korea Navy is expected to begin receiving aircraft in 2023.

31 Oct 2019 - RAF takes delivery of its first Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.

The RAF has taken delivery of the first of 9 RAF Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft. The aircraft was flown to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida where RAF personnel

are being trained to operate the aircraft. Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, said “It’s a game-changing anti-submarine and maritime patrol aircraft which is capable of detecting and tracking the most sophisticated submarines that Russia [is] fielding now. They’ve got to recognise there’s nowhere for them to hide.”

The first aircraft will arrive at RAF Lossiemouth in early 2020 and the ninth should be delivered by November 2021.

05 Aug 2019 - Boeing to integrate extra crew workstations in upgrade of Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.

U.S. Navy aerial surveillance experts are looking to the Boeing Co. to help expand capabilities of the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft with the addition of a crew

workstation on early models of the aircraft.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced two orders last week collectively worth $34.5 million to the Boeing Defense, Space & Security segment in Seattle to provide 60 Sixth Mission Crew Workstation (MCW) retrofit B-kits for the U.S. and Australian navys.

This order will add an extra crew workstation to the first five lots of Navy P-8A aircraft, as well as to the sixth lot of Australian P-8As. Boeing is the original manufacturer of the P-8A.

Early versions of the P-8A Poseidon had five crew workstations, and later versions have six workstations. This order is to upgrade early models of the aircraft to include a sixth crew workstation to enhance the plane's capabilities and distribute the workload more evenly among crew members.

The P-8A has workstations with universal multifunction displays, and ready accommodation for additional workstations and workload sharing. Of these crew workstations, 51 will go aboard Navy production P-8A aircraft; three will go aboard Navy flight test aircraft, and four will go aboard Royal Australian Air Force aircraft.

05 Feb 2018 - Boeing considering P-8 Poseidon refinements.

Matt Carreon, head of global sales and marketing for Boeing Defence, Space and Security at Boeing has given the following update about its P-8 Poseidon programme a

t a programme update briefing at the Singapore air show in Feb 2018. He listed four updates that the manufacturer will implement on the P-8. Updates include:
  1. A sixth workstation for all newly built P-8s, up from the current five, thereby improving operational capability.
  2. Possible higher operating altitude. Although Carreon did not specify the figure, he says that having a higher operating altitude would allow the P-8 "to have less wear and tear" and to give the aircraft's radar further range.
  3. Boeing is already in the process of replacing the Defence Satellite Communications Systems and Global Broadcast Service with a Wideband Global satellite communications system. This change will greatly improve bandwidth.
  4. Finally, Carreon says that although the 737NG will eventually be replaced with the 737 Max, Boeing can continue manufacturing P-8s "as long as there is a demand".

11 Jul 2016 - UK confirms the deal to purchase nine P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) for the RAF.

The new aircraft, which will be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, will play a vital role in protecting the UK’s nuclear deterrent and the UK’s two new aircraft carriers. They

will also be able to locate and track hostile submarines, and will enhance the UK’s maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) capability. The P-8A can operate at long range from its operating base without refuelling and has the endurance to carry out high and low-level airborne maritime and overland surveillance for extended periods. This cutting-edge aircraft will also be able to conduct wide-area search of open ocean to locate small boats and drop rescue life-rafts and equipment to vessels and people in distress. The announcement of this deal also marks the point at which responsibility for leadership of the MPA Programme transfers from Joint Forces Command to the RAF. With the first aircraft due to arrive in the UK in 2019/2020, the RAF has been committed to maintaining the skills needed to operate these MPAs through the ‘seed-corn’ programme, which has embedded former RAF MPA operators within the MPA squadrons of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.

21 Jul 2015 - India to buy four more P-8Is

The Indian Defence Acquisition Council has cleared the acquisition of four additional Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft for the Indian navy. Exercising

the option for four more P-8s in addition to the eight that were purchased under a 2009 $2.1 billion deal, the DAC approval came on 14 July and was accorded following the completion of deliberations by the Cost Negotiating Committee (CNC). Further approval is now required from the ministry of finance and the Cabinet Committee on Security, following which a contract will be inked. Delivery of the new P-8Is will begin three years after the contract is signed. In an email response, Dennis Swanson, vice-president of Boeing Defense, Space & Security in India, told Flightglobal: “Boeing is in active discussions with the MoD on timing and specific requirements associated with the procurement of these additional aircraft. Any specific information regarding contract negotiations for the four additional aircraft will need to come from the MoD at this time.”. Boeing also remains keenly interested in the navy requirement for nine new medium-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. “Boeing is closely following the acquisition,” Swanson says, declining to provide further details and instead citing “the competitive phase of the programme”. Initial P-8I training for Indian navy pilots, mission system operators and maintenance technicians was completed in Seattle last year. “More than 110 Indian navy professionals, including five pilot crews, five mission crews and a number of flight signallers and observers have been trained,” Swanson says. The navy will take delivery of its eighth and final aircraft later this year. The P-8I retains Raytheon’s APY-10 surveillance radar and adds an aft-facing Telephonics APS-143C (V) 3 radar and magnetic anomaly detector at the rear. The P-8I weapons fit comprises AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles (23 ordered), Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes and Mk-82 depth charges.

26 Jul 2010 - Boeing completes final design review for P-8I

Boeing on July 16 successfully completed the final design review (FDR) for P-8I, India's long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The P-8I, based on the Boeing 737 commercial airplane, is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the US Navy. Completion of the FDR locks in the design for the aircraft, radar, communications, navigation, mission computing, acoustics and sensors, as well as the ground and test support equipment. It also paves the way for the program to begin assembling the first P-8I aircraft. "For P-8I, we are incorporating not only India-unique design features, but also India-built subsystems, so this agreement that the design addresses all customer requirements is a huge milestone," said Leland Wight, P-8I program manager for Boeing. "It also leads us to the program's next stage: We are on track to start fabricating the P-8I's empennage section before the end of this year." During the five-day FDR held in Renton, Wash., Indian Navy officers met with Boeing representatives from Defense, Space & Security and Commercial Airplanes to review relevant design information and performance against specifications. "The P-8I's unique capabilities are tailored to India's maritime-patrol requirements. It has the reach and capability to defend India's vast coastline and maritime waters," said Vivek Lall, India country lead, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. Boeing will deliver the first P-8I to India within 48 months of the original contract signing, which took place in January 2009. India is the first customer for the P-8 outside the United States.

8 Jun 2010 - Boeing's P-8A aircraft completes mission systems test

A P-8A Poseidon long-range maritime surveillance aircraft has successfully completed its first mission systems flight test on June 8, Boeing has announced. The multi-mission aircraft, being developed for the US Navy, underwent the

flight test in Seattle. During its three-hour flight, various mission systems of the aircraft, called T2, were tested. The joint Boeing and Navy test team exercised mission computing on all five operator workstations and successfully demonstrated key systems – including acoustics, mission planning, tactical data-link, communications, electronic support measures and flight test instrumentation – for the first time, Boeing said in a statement. “This successful flight moves us a step closer to getting the Poseidon and its next-generation radar and sensors into the hands of the warfighter,” Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice president and P-8 programme manager, said. The aircraft will now be used to verify integrated mission systems performance during flights in Seattle and at US Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The T2 aircraft is one of the five test aircraft being assembled and tested as part of the US Navy System Development and Demonstration contract Boeing received in 2004. The T1 airworthiness-test aircraft entered flight testing in October 2009 and arrived at the US Navy's Patuxent River facility in April 2010. The P-8A multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft is based on a Boeing 737-800 airframe with state-of-the art equipment for maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare. The long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft is meant to replace the US navy’s fleet of P-3C Orion aircraft. The US Navy intends to procure 117 P-8As, the first of which is expected to be delivered by 2013

31 Jul 2009 - P-8A Poseidon rollout

The U.S. Navy and Boeing unveiled the next maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, during a rollout ceremony at Boeing's manufacturing facility in Seattle.

"This is a tremendous day to recognize the outstanding efforts of the U.S. Navy, Boeing and the entire industry team on a job extremely well done," said Rear Adm. Bill Moran, commander, Patrol Reconnaissance Group. "It has been more than forty years since the maritime patrol community has seen a new aircraft; delivery of this aircraft cannot come soon enough."

The admiral said the aircraft's greater situational awareness, open systems architecture and higher operating altitude will bring a greater punch to the fight, across all warfare mission areas and will be a significant force multiplier.

The Poseidon will replace the P-3C Orion as a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. It will maximize the experience and technology of the Orion but with significant growth potential, greater payload capacity, advanced mission systems, software and communications.

"The P-8A Poseidon program is an outstanding example of evolutionary acquisition at work. We have established a very solid baseline for initial operational capability, while concurrently making upgrade increments for future insertion as technology matures," said Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Manager Capt. Mike Moran.

"The team has worked hard to stay on schedule and within cost in this developmental effort; we all should be extremely proud of the results."

Boeing was awarded a contract in 2004 to deliver five test vehicles. This acquisition phase provides three flight test aircraft, one full-scale static loads test airframe, and one full-scale fatigue test airframe. The Navy plans to purchase 117 production aircraft.

All five test aircraft are in various stages of assembly and ground test; two of the flight test aircraft have already successfully flown as part of a Boeing relocation and system flight check process. Testing on the static loads airframe is underway and the Navy will begin formal flight testing later this year.

In April, the Australian Department of Defence signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense to join a cooperative partnership in the development of follow-on capabilities to be added to the Poseidon after it enters the fleet in 2013.

25 Apr 09 - First Flight of P-8A Poseidon

Boeing's new P8-A test jet, a 737-based submarine hunter for the Navy, made its first flight on 25 Apr from Renton to Boeing Field. A person close to the program said the three-hour test flight was successful. The jet will be fitted with advanced military sensor equipment at a plant beside Boeing Field before a formal flight-test program begins in the fall. The P8-A, also know as Poseidon, is based on the commercial 737 airframe but bristles with added military hardware, including a bomb bay on the underbelly, launching tubes for sonar listening buoys and multiple antennae along the windowless fuselage. The Navy has ordered 108 of the jets and India will take eight. The program should be worth about $40 billion over 25 years.

22 Mar 2009 - Boeing Completes P-8A Poseidon Loads Calibration Testing

Load TestingTrials Performed Ahead of Schedule Boeing last week completed loads calibration testing of the first P-8A Poseidon test aircraft, two weeks ahead of schedule. Loads calibration is one of the prerequisites for the US Navy flight clearance process.

During the tests, up to 80 percent of the highest expected flight loads were applied to the aircraft's fuselage, horizontal stabilizers, vertical fin and wing structures. Completion of loads calibration ensures that test aircraft T-1 is ready for airworthiness testing, which will commence later this year.

"One of the reasons we were able to complete the tests ahead of schedule is that the team incorporated some new technologies which enabled us to capture more accurate and more usable data faster," said Mark Magnuson, Boeing P-8A Structural Development and Certification director. "We also completed a number of independent reviews of the test plan prior to the start of testing, in order to reduce risk."

One of the new technologies, optical photogrammetry, entailed installing small video cameras on the P-8A's leading and trailing edges and underneath the fuselage. The measurement system provided three-dimensional, real-time data.

The team now will restore T-1 to its flight configuration and perform additional systems tests prior to first flight.

The P-8A is built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems and GE Aviation. The team currently is assembling and testing the first five P-8As, based off Boeing's 737-800 commercial airliner.

The Navy plans to purchase 108 P-8A long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft to replace its fleet of P-3C Orions. Initial operational capability is slated for 2013.


05 Jan 2009 - 8 P8's for India

Boeing won a $2.1 billion order from India's Navy for eight of its Renton-built P-8 anti-submarine aircraft, Indian government officials announced today. The contract, which includes spare parts and support, is the first overseas P-8 order. Indian officials said they expect the first delivery in 2013. The P-8 is a military version of the 737 commercial airliner, intended for use as a long-range aircraft to patrol the oceans and to hunt and kill enemy submarines. The aircraft are built in a secure assembly building in Renton, separate from the commercial 737s. In December, Boeing completed assembly of the second P-8 test aircraft, which will be prepared for extensive ground tests in a fixture inside the assembly building. First flight of the P-8 is expected later this year. In 2004, the U.S. Navy chose Boeing to build 108 of the P-8s, with initial operational capability slated for 2013.


22 Aug 2008 - Boeing Pushes US Navy for P8 as EP-X

The U.S. Navy is expected to issue a draft request for proposals this quarter for the EP-X intelligence-gathering aircraft, which will replace the EP-3 Aries. In a recent briefing, Boeing revealed that Raytheon was joining its team to bid the P-8 Poseidon for EP-X.

The P-8 is derived from the 737 airliner and is already slated to replace the Navy’s aging P-3 Orion ASW aircraft (see “Boeing P-8 Gets Its Wings”). “Clearly, our P-8 work brings leverage to our EP-X bid, and the Navy has already invested over $1 billion in that program,” said Tony Parasida, Boeing’s v-p and general manager for ASW and ISR.

He explained that Raytheon will supply ELINT sensors for the bid and will also help with systems integration. Argon Systems is already on the Boeing team, supplying a COMINT sensor.

The EP-8 version would carry up to 14 sensor and communications operators, compared with only five on the standard P-8. Boeing’s competitors for the EP-X will likely be Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

All three companies received study contracts worth $1.25 million each last year to help the Navy define the EP-X requirement. Northrop has teamed with L-3 Communications.

According to Parasida, the Navy will likely buy about 20 aircraft, even though there are only 12 EP-3 Aries aircraft in current service. The balance will replace the few special measurement and signals intelligence-gathering versions of the P-3 that are operated covertly within the larger P-3 ASW fleet.

6 Aug 2008 - Marotta Delivers First MPACT(R) to Boeing

Marotta Controls is proud to announce the successful completion of First Article Inspection and Delivery of the MPACT 6000 to The Boeing Company for pneumatic weapon ejection on the P-8A Poseidon. This is the first unit in support of the new MPACT Pure Air Compression Technology systems development program.

MPACT is a complete pneumatic system which generates the high-pressure compressed air required to jettison weapons from various military aircraft. Reusable, clean and safer than its pyrotechnic predecessors, the new MPACT is one of the most powerful ways for the warfighter to release stores. The MPACT 6000 is used on the forward fuselage of the P-8A Poseidon, a variant of the Boeing 737-800 which is under development for the United States Navy. The P-8A will provide persistent anti-submarine warfare, as well as anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

As part of First Article Inspection, the MPACT was subjected to several hundred hours of Safety of Flight Testing (SFT). During that process the MPACT components were analyzed and evaluated while subjected to rigorous temperature, vibration, acceleration, altitude and service life tests. This successful SFT completion and delivery of the MPACT system is a key milestone for the program.


3 July 2008 - Boeing installs engines to complete final assembly on P-8A

By Stephen Trimble

Boeing has installed the engines on the US Navy's first P-8A Poseidon, essentially completing structural assembly of the 737-based maritime patrol aircraft.

The first of five flight-test aircraft will now be inducted into a months-long phase to complete systems integration ahead of first delivery in the first quarter of 2009.

The integration of the two CFM56-7B engines, which each provide 27,300lb (121kN) of thrust, culminates Boeing's roughly 90-day final assembly process.

The USN plans to buy 108 P-8As, but is on contract only for the first five flight-test aircraft. The type is scheduled to achieve initial operational capability in 2013, but operational demands may require Boeing to accelerate the delivery schedule by one year.

27 Apr 2008 - All hands are on deck to build Boeing sub hunter

Final assembly starts on the first of Navy P-8A Poseidon planes that could be Renton's last 737s


Although The Boeing Co. lost the competition to supply air-refueling tankers to the U.S. Air Force, it still has one major military aircraft development program in the works.

Starting next year, it will deliver the first of what could be more than 100 737s, modified with bomb bay doors and weapon pylons under the wings, to the U.S. Navy. Over the next decade or more, the P-8A Poseidon will replace the aging fleet of prop-engine Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion planes that have been used for hunting subs and military maritime missions since the Cold War days of the 1960s.

Under unusually tight U.S. government security regulations that prevent most non-U.S. citizens from getting within 10 feet of the Poseidon work areas, final assembly of the first of those Navy planes started earlier this month at Boeing's Renton plant.

It is the first time a Boeing military plane has been built "in line" on a commercial production line.

Boeing calls the program a "hybrid," reflecting the close cooperation between Boeing Commercial Airplanes and the company's military business.

The Poseidon could turn out to be the last of the 737s that Boeing assembles in Renton, assuming it has a commercial replacement for its single-aisle commercial jetliner before all the Navy planes are delivered. That 737 replacement plane, which Boeing says won't be ready until at least 2015 or later, is likely to be assembled at Boeing's Everett plant, not in Renton.

And with Boeing's fighter production having peaked, and production of the C-17 transport winding down, the 737 could be the last fixed-wing plane that Boeing makes for the military for some time, from about 2014 on, according to Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group, an industry consulting firm.

"This is pretty much it," Aboulafia said. "It better work, because Boeing has a lot riding on this in the fixed-wing market for military aircraft integration."

Last week, when Boeing announced first-quarter earnings that were better than Wall Street expected, Chairman and Chief Executive Jim McNerney said Boeing's military programs are running well, including the P-8A. McNerney noted that the company won nine of 11 major U.S. military competitions last year. "Our hit rate has been very, very high," he said.

But earlier this year, Boeing lost the tanker competition to a team of Northrop Grumman and EADS, the parent of Airbus. Boeing has appealed. And last week, Boeing lost to Northrop again for a Navy contract to build maritime surveillance aircraft. Northrop will supply the Navy with as many as 44 unmanned aircraft that will be used with the Boeing P-8A planes.

The P-8A will mostly hunt for submarines, while the unmanned planes, a version of Northrop's Global Hawk, will scan the ocean for surface vessels.

Boeing will initially supply the Navy with five P-8A test planes, two of which will be used for ground testing. First flight is set for next year. The Navy currently plans to purchase 108 Poseidons and field the first operational squadron in 2013.

Boeing was considered the underdog for the Navy contract. Lockheed Martin was offering an improved version of the P-3. Instead, the Navy went with a jet that can fly faster, higher and has more range and payload.

The P-8A is a derivative of the company's 737-800 commercial jet, but with the wings of the 737-900ER (extended range).

It will be able to carry 120 sonobuoys, which are dropped in the ocean to track subs. It also has two pylons under each wing for weapons. The P-8A can be refueled while flying. Inside the P-8A, the crew will sit at computers analyzing data from the jet's sensors, much as they do now on Boeing's 707 airborne and control plane, as well as the 737 airborne early warning planes being built for Turkey and Australia.

Boeing also could build versions of the P-8A for other nations.

India, for example, is finalizing a contract for as many as eight of the 737s to replace its navy's Soviet-era Tupolev TU-42s, which, like the P-3 Orion, have seen their best days.

In December, the U.S. Navy grounded 39 of its P-3 Orion sub hunters -- nearly a quarter of the fleet -- because of concerns about fatigue cracking in the wings.

Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, said last month the Navy would like to speed up delivery of the P-8A to deal with the Orion problems.

But that will depend on Boeing's ability to crank up 737 production even further, which won't be easy. Boeing is currently building around 31 of the commercial 737 jetliners a month to meet high demand for that plane.

"Boeing is working really hard with us," Vice Adm. David Venlet, commander of Naval Air Systems Command, told Inside the Navy, a military publication, late last month. "They've got a real rapid-flowing 737 line, and getting spots in the sequence (for the P-8A), you've got to tell them pretty far ahead."

He called the P-3 Orion "tired iron."

McNerney, during last week's earnings call, said Boeing continues to study 737 production but has not decided how much more it will raise rates to get more planes out the factory door. The current rate is higher than it has ever been. Boeing has a 737 backlog of more than 2,000 planes, having sold a record 846 last year and 739 in 2006.

Those commercial jets are assembled on two state-of-the-art moving production lines at the Renton plant.

But the P-8A is assembled in a separate building to allow all the necessary military modifications to be made on the line. This has required a number of controls to meet the requirements of the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR.

The P-8A assembly line is fenced off with badge readers at entrances to ensure that only U.S. citizens can get close to the plane. Foreign nationals, even those who work for Boeing, are not allowed access without special clearance.

Even the P-8A fuselage must be transported to Renton under tighter security.

All 737 fuselage sections are manufactured by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., and then shipped by rail to Renton for final assembly. Those wingless, green fuselage sections on rail cars have been a common sight for years. But the P-8A fuselage must be hidden from view during its trip.

The P-8A fuselage differs from the passenger plane. It does not have passenger windows, but does have a large observation window -- and a big hole in its belly for dropping weapons.

With final assembly under way on the first plane, Boeing workers are installing systems, wiring and smaller parts in the fuselage. The wings, manufactured by Boeing in the same plant, will be attached later.

Boeing won the Navy competition in 2006 over Lockheed Martin in large part because it decided to have an ITAR-compliant P-8A line in Renton so the planes would not have to be flown off after assembly to complete the military work. That can now be done during final assembly, a much cheaper and more efficient process.

This was to have been the model for the 767 tanker program had Boeing won the Air Force competition. Taking a page from the P-8A, most of the military modifications to the 767 would have been done during final assembly of the planes on an ITAR-compliant line in Everett.

Instead, Boeing is left, for now, with Poseidon.

20 Mar 2008 - First fuselage for the U.S. Navy's new P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine aircraft is almost complete.

Workers have to install the last five parts before delivery to Boeing on March 31.

The P-8A is a derivative of Boeing's Next Generation 737-800 long-range commercial airliner. Completion of the fuselage marks a milestone for Spirit and Boeing, officials from both companies said Thursday.

It's the first time a Boeing commercial airliner has been customized with military-unique changes as it goes down the production line. In the past, major modifications were made after production was complete.

The process is more efficient, costs less and means higher quality, Tony Parasida, Boeing's vice president and general manager for Airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare & Information, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems, said at a ceremony with Spirit employees marking the fuselage's completion.

"It is going to change the way we do derivative airplanes forever," Parasida said. "It's something nobody else can do."

The P-8A fuselage took four months to build and was done with 737 production rates at a brisk 31 a month.

At first glance, it doesn't look much different than the commercial 737 airliner fuselages on Spirit's shop floor.

But in the P-8A version, a large observation window replaces side passenger windows. It has a hole in its belly for a weapons bay. And it's been strengthened to take on military equipment.

Another difference marking its future military role is the roped-off area surrounding it and signs that read: "Limited Access. Foreign Persons are Not Permitted."

It's reflective of one of Spirit's largest challenges on the program: complying with International Trade in Arms Regulations that are applied to defense-related products.

"It's substantial," said Buck Buchanan, Spirit's vice president and general manager of the fuselage business, of those regulations.

The U.S. Navy plans to buy 108 P-8As to replace its fleet of P-3C aircraft.

Boeing is scheduled to deliver the first plane to the Navy in late 2009 for flight testing. It is scheduled to be put into operation in 2013.

29 Dec 2007 - Production of the first Boeing P-8A Poseidon Begins

Production of the first Boeing P-8A Poseidon has begun, as negotiations continue for Australia to join the US Navy's Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft programme. The 737 derivative is to replace the navy's Lockheed Martin P-3C Orions from 2013.

Assembly of the fuselage for the first of five P-8s in the development programme - three flight-test and two ground-test aircraft - started at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas in early December. The fuselage for aircraft T-1 will be shipped to Boeing's 737 final-assembly plant in March 2008, is scheduled to roll out next August and fly in March 2009, following loads calibration. Development flight-testing will begin in September 2009, after its mission system has been installed.

"We are on track and entering build of the first five aircraft with highly certain dates because we are integrated with the 737 production line," says Bob Feldmann, Boeing vice-president and P-8A programme manager.

Australia last July decided to join the MMA programme, and is negotiating a memorandum of understanding to participate in spiral development of the P-8. The first round of negotiations was completed in October and a second is planned for February, says Capt Mike Moran, the USN's P-8 integrated product team lead. The navy, meanwhile, is beginning to define the aircraft's first capability upgrade spiral, he says.

India recently began evaluating cost proposals for its maritime patrol aircraft requirement, having assessed the P-8I, an Airbus A319 derivative from EADS, Ilyushin's Il-38, a modified Dassault Falcon 900 offered by Israel Aerospace Industries/Elta Systems, and a remanufactured P-3 from Lockheed.

Canada is meanwhile considering abandoning the incremental upgrade of its P-3-based CP-140 Auroras and buying new aircraft, with a decision expected by the end of 2007. However, Moran says: "We have not had any discussions with the Canadians."

Flight Intl 29/12/07

13 Aug 07 - The 737 goes to war - the P-8A Poseidon

Another 737 assembly line is taking shape at Boeing's Renton, Washington plant. Line 3 will be similar to the other two already churning out almost 30 aircraft a month, except that the 737s inching down this moving line will be military - P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft for the US Navy.

Building a military derivative "in line" with the commercial 737 makes the P-8 different to any previous Boeing programme. "No one has done this before," says P-8 programme manager Bob Feldman. "No one has cut into a commercial line to produce a military aircraft."

The ability to produce the P-8 on the commercial 737 line was key factor in Boeing Integrated Defense Systems winning the $3.89 billion contract in 2004 to develop the replacement for the US Navy's Lockheed P-3 anti-submarine warfare aircraft. "When theP-8 is in full production we will build it in eight days, on a moving line, like every other 737," says Feldman. "The navy will get extraordinary affordability."

Boeing's original proposal was to buy a 737-800 off the commercial line, fly it a modification centre, take it apart and put it back together - as it does with the airborne early warning and control 737 and KC-767 tanker. "We have always built a green aircraft and modified it because it is difficult to do in line," says Perry Moore, director of P-8 manufacturing operations for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "But the navy wanted us to find a way to do this.

Making a military derivative

"The navy said why buy a good aircraft and cut it apart? If you do not do something different, you will probably not win the contract," says Eric Lindblad, director, P-8 aircraft systems. "We had to take a high-powered production machine and learn how to make a military derivative."

An 11th-hour change to Boeing's MMA proposal, creating a system to allow in-line production of the P-8 has resulted in the closest co-operation yet between the company's commercial and defence businesses - a co-operation that extends to suppliers including 737 fuselage producer Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas.

Turning the 737-800 into the P-8 has required changes to basic aircraft's structure and systems. "The typical 737 takes off, climbs, cruises for an hour and a half, descends and lands. The P-8 has eight unique flight profiles," says Lindblad. "A fair amount of the structure has been adjusted." Material gauges have been increased to strengthen the fuselage, wing and tail, and system capacities boosted to provide more cooling and power, but the biggest change to the basic 737 is the introduction of a weapons bay in the lower aft fuselage and weapon stations under the wing.

Despite these changes, at Spirit and Renton respectively the fuselage and wing for the P-8 will go through the same assembly jigs as those for the commercial 737, and at the same pace. "It has to go in and out of the jig with the commercial line move," says Lindblad.

Moore says: "Spirit has a very lean process, and will produce P-8 and 737 fuselages on the same line despite the significant differences." To avoid disrupting the flow, a downstage subassembly position has been created at Spirit where the weapons bay and auxiliary fuel tank will be integrated before it is installed on the line. Because of the differences within the P-8 wing, separate positions will be created to finish the work.

Final assembly of the P-8 could have been performed on the existing 737 moving lines at Renton, but Boeing decided it less risky to create a separate line. It would also be easier to meet the Pentagon's security restrictions by building a separate "ITAR compliant" line that would nonetheless be available to build commercial 737s if Boeing needed more capacity.

"The real significant difference is in final assembly, and it was not worth the risk of disrupting the commercial line," says Moore. "We have a new final assembly line, but it's another commercial line, a replica of the others with the same lean production system. It's a moving line, but with extended flow times." Almost four times the number of wiring bundles in a typical 737 have to be installed, along with extra ducting and the cargo-bay auxiliary fuel tanks. "The line will not move as fast," he says. "The 737 has eight flow days, which equals eight positions. The P-8 will have eight longer flow days and three positions."

A separate final-assembly line also eases the headache for BCA of complying with the access controls demanded by the US Department of Defense's International Traffic in Arms Regulations. "We encourage commercial customers to come look at their aircraft. It would have been a logistical nightmare. The P-8 final assembly line will be fenced off for ITAR compliance," says Moore. "But it is not a dedicated ITAR line," Lindblad adds. "It will be possible to fire a commercial aircraft down that line."

There will be no similar separation at Spirit, where military P-8s will be mixed in with commercial 737s. Instead the ITAR access controls will follow each P-8 fuselage down the line, and the same will happen on the wing line. Spirit sends 737 fuselages from Wichita to Renton on railcars and method will also be used for the P-8, but the fuselage will be protected in an unspecified way.

Under the 737 production system workers stay in one position and the aircraft moves. For the P-8, small specialist teams will follow the fuselage and wing down the line to handle the differences. On the final assembly line one crew will be fully trained to build the aircraft from one end to the other, at least initially. "At rate we may go back to a more traditional arrangement," says Moore.

Construction of the P-8 final assembly line is under way at Renton. Here the two Boeings come together. On one side of the building will be the BCA assembly line, on the other the IDS static and fatigue test rigs. And all the planning will be put to the test when the first flight-test P-8, aircraft T-1, starts moving through the system later this year.

Spirit will load the first assembly jig in December, the fuselage will be in Renton by March and the aircraft will be fully assembled by August. "It's amazing how fast they build commercial aircraft," says Feldman. BCA will take T-1 through pre-flight to taxi, shut it down and deliver it to IDS, when it will be rolled into the fatigue test fixture for loads calibration and ground vibration testing.

First flight

First flight is set for March 2009, when the painted aircraft will make the short hop to Boeing Field for mission system installation. For T-1 this will mainly involve test instrumentation, about half of which will already have been installed by during final assembly, and the aircraft is expected to fly again in September 2009, making three flights from Seattle before ferrying across the country in October to the US Navy's Patuxent River flight-test centre in Maryland.

T-1, the airworthiness aircraft, will be followed by mission system (T-2) and weapons test (T-3) aircraft, as well as static and fatigue test articles (S-1 and S-2). A 700-flight, 2,300h development test programme is planned. T-2 is scheduled to fly in January 2010 and will build up to testing of the fully integrated mission system. From T-2 onwards, BCA will do a check flight and paint the aircraft at Renton then deliver it to IDS at Boeing Field.

While T-1 will be used for weapons carriage and release trials, weapons testing "for score" will use T-3 with its full mission system. T-3 will also be the performance test aircraft and a back-up to T-2 for mission system testing. T-2 will perform climatic chamber testing at Eglin AFB in Florida and T-3 will be used for electromagnetic testing at Pax River.

Although the P-8 is based on a proven airframe, full-scale static tests and fatigue testing to two 15,000h lifetimes will be conducted because of the different loads experienced. "The P-8 will spend a lot more time at lower altitude and higher g," says Pual Martin, manager P-8 test and evaluation. The S1 static airframe will be refurbished and sent to China Lake, California for full-up live-fire testing "to demonstrate it meets the vulnerable area requirement".

Feldman says: "It is not built for survivability as a commercial aircraft, so we have done significant live-fire testing and are incorporating the results into the design." A lot of the work involves the fuel system: protecting or relocating components double-wall tank liners sense and drain systems and dry-bay fire protection. "These areas have been dealt with and there are no outstanding vulnerability concerns," he says. Using a building-block approach, Boeing has conducted life-fire tests on critical areas of the airframe using surrogate structures. This has resulted in selection of an inerting system to protect the dry-bay areas around the cargo-bay fuel tanks.

The critical design review in June determined the P-8 was "green across the board" in meeting its key performance parameters, including weight and range, says Feldman. A US Navy design readiness review set for August is expected to approve the acquisition of up to four more development aircraft, T-4 to T-7, for initial operational test and evaluation beginning in April 2012.

Budget pressures

Initial operational capability of the Poseidon is scheduled for April 2013. Budget pressures have reduced the planned production rate from 16 to 13 a year, but Feldman says the line will have capacity to produce 16 or more a year, creating the possibility of accelerating P-8 deliveries to replace P-3s earlier.

Some challenges to producing a military aircraft on a commercial line remain to be overcome. For the development P-8s, the navy had to secure a waiver from US legislation requiring the Pentagon to use only domestic sources of specialty metals such as titanium - a restriction not imposed on the 737. "The commercial line is domestic specialty metals agnostic," says Feldman. "We still need a permanent waiver for production."

Unlike a green aircraft that is then modified, the P-8 will not be FAA-certificated when it comes off the assembly line.

To secure USN flight clearance, Boeing will supply a "safe to fly" plan based on its certification processes. "BCA self-certificates its commercial aircraft, so our FAA certification data will be integrated into the document required for navy certification," says Moore. An analysis to identify any gaps between FAA and navy certification requirements is to be completed this month.

"We will end up with a 737-800A - a P-8A without the mission system - which will get an FAA experimental ticket," says Lindblad. Getting the navy to sign off on this is critical to Boeing's plans to complete the "unstuffed"P-8 within BCA then deliver it to IDS for mission system installation. "We gain a lot of efficiency by provisioning the aircraft at BCA, while IDS does the plug-and-play installation," says Moore.

This production arrangement would also make it easier to allow international customers to perform mission systems installation in-country. India has been offered eight P-8s off the US production line, but Australia has decided to join the MMA programme with a requirement for 12 to 20 aircraft to replace its AP-3Cs, and will probably install the mission systems in-country. The basic P-8 airframe could also find other applications.

Flight Intl 13/8/07

20 July 2007 - Australia may join MMA program

Australia is to negotiate to join the US Navy's Boeing P-8A Multi-mission Martime Aircraft development programme, after the government gave first-pass approval for the A$4 billion ($3.5 billion) AIR 7000 Phase 2 programme to replace the Royal Australian Air Force's AP-3C Orions.

The 737-based P-8A Poseidon will meet the Royal Australian Air Force's manned Maritime Patrol and Response Aircraft (MPRA) requirement and operate alongside the Multi-mission Unmanned Aerial System (MUAS). Together the manned MPRA and unmanned MUAS will replace the Orions, which are planned to be retired in 2018 after more than 30 years of service.

After Boeing won the MMA competition in June 2004, Australia was offered a stake in P-8 development in return for investing $300 million in the programme, but the Canberra government turned down the offer in late 2005 because of a crisis in funding for defence procurement. Defence minister Brendan Nelson says participation in the proposed cooperative development of the P-8 will provide opportunities for Australian industry.

Australia was the launch customer for another military derivative of the 737, the AEW&C of which it has ordered 6.

Boeing and the US Navy recently completed the critical design review on the P-8. Approval to built two test aircraft will be sought later this year. The US Navy plans to buy 108 Poseidons, with deliveries beginning in 2013.

03 Jun 2005 - MMA to get Raked Wingtips

The Boeing-led team currently developing the U.S. Navy's P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) has made a minor design change better suiting the Navy's unique requirements.

The move involved changing the wing extension from a blended winglet to a commercially proven raked or backswept wing tip, Boeing said in a statement.

A configuration control board composed of Boeing personnel and representatives from the Naval Air Systems Command PMA-290 procurement team approved the change after determining the new design provides the same efficiencies as the blended winglet, but increases overall performance for maritime patrol missions, it said.

"It's indicative of the teamwork developed between the Navy and our industry team that we were able to identify a way to enhance the 737's performance in the maritime patrol environment," said Jack Zerr, vice president of the MMA program for Boeing.

"This kind of design improvement explains why we have a system development and demonstration phase in procurement programmes."

It is also believed that the raked winglet will be de-iced all the way to the tip unlike the present NG's in which the outboard slat has no de-icing.

10 May 2005 - P-8A MMA Could Become a Multinational Program

Australia, Canada, and Italy were named by the U.S. government at the end of 2004 as being the most likely partners in the development of the P-8A Multimission Maritime Aircraft (MMA), based on a Boeing 737 airframe. The US Navy is now in formal talks with these potential international partners, and India has also expressed interest. The U.S. market alone is estimated to be $20 billion, and the P-8 replaces the P-3 Orion aircraft currently in service with 15 countries.

Each potential international partner would be expected to contribute approximately $300 million toward the development of the P-8A. The U.S. also approached other allies but according to eDefense they were "less responsive," raising the prospect of a competing European system at some future date based on an Airbus airframe.

The P-8 MMA will search for and destroy submarines, monitor sea traffic, launch missile attacks on naval or land targets as required, and possibly engage in an electronic intercept role. This will involve carrying sonobuoys, torpedoes, depth charges, Harpoon anti-shipping missiles, SLAM land attack missile, and other weapons, as well as advanced sensors, communications, and other electronics. The program goal is a modern, highly reliable airframe that will be equipped with improved maritime surveillance and attack capability, allowing a smaller force to provide worldwide responsiveness on a smaller support infrastructure.

The resulting aircraft will play a role in a number of emerging military doctrines. It will be a key component in the U.S. Navy's Sea Power 21 Sea Shield concept by providing an anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-smuggling platform that can sweep the area, launch sensors or weapons as needed, and remain aloft for many hours. MMA will also play a key role in the U.S. Navy's FORCEnet architecture via development of the Common Undersea Picture (CUP). As a secondary role, it will support portions of Sea Power 21's Sea Strike doctrine through provisions of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

In June of 2004, Boeing IDS was awarded the $3.9 billion cost-plus-award-fee contract to develop the Navy's P-8 Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft. The system design and development (SDD) contract covers the full range of developing what's required for the aircraft, including all of the onboard mission systems, the modifications to the airframe itself, all of the training systems, and all of the software laboratories required to produce almost 2 million lines of reliable code. It also covers developing all of the integrated logistics elements, including the trainers, simulators and courseware. Essentially everything that's required to get ready to build the production MMA is part of the SDD contract. The MMA Program was recently cleared by a US technical review board to proceed into the design phase, and will undergo a preliminary design review in September 2005.

The U.S. program objective currently is 108 aircraft, plus an additional three system design & development aircraft. The P-8A is scheduled to begin U.S. service between 2010-2013, and to enter foreign service in 2015 and beyond. The aircraft procurement phases of the U.S. P-8A MMA program alone are estimated to be a $20 billion effort, and then the total life cycle cost for procurement plus 25 years of life cycle support is estimated to be about a $44 billion in FY 2004 dollars.

The Indian Navy's interest in joining the MMA program has already been communicated, and the Pentagon would possibly provide an answer through Defence Security Cooperation Group (DSCG) chief Lt. Gen Jeffrey B. Kohler. Some Indian Navy sources believe that a recent decision to spend $6 billion on 50 Boeing civil jets for Air India could incline Boeing toward a favourable response. The P-8A matches the operational profile currently assigned to the Indian Navy's Tupolev-142 "Bear" long-range reconnaissance planes and Ilyushin-38 maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.

These discussions come in the wake a recent visit to India by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, in which the USA expressed its desire to substantially upgrade their strategic relationship. Given the two nations' shared interest in an arc that stretches from the Staits of Malacca to the coast of East Africa, many analysts see naval cooperation as the likely linchpin of their future military relationship. Washington's recent offer of at least 12 P-3C Orions would match India's requirements profile immediately, but participation in the P-8A offers an aircraft with superior performance in all respects plus accompanying strategic, industrial, and prestige benefits. Some analysts consider the request a sort of test by India of its long-term importance to the USA.

As things currently stand, the P-8A will be built by Boeing's Integrated Defence Systems (Boeing IDS) division, CFM International (a 50/50 joint company of Snecma Moteurs and General Electric Company), Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon, and Smiths Aerospace.

There is something on the order of 225 P-3 type aircraft in 15 countries. Some countries that fly the P-3 already have a natural interest in the P-8, while others like India recognize its obvious usefulness for both the diesel submarine threat and for a variety of operations that could be related to the war on terrorism, anti-drug efforts, et. al. As such, the market opportunity for the MMA is considered to be quite substantial.

B737 Joins the Navy

The U.S. Navy calls its Multimission Maritime Aircraft a "low-risk truck." True, the B737 airframe is well proven. But it houses an advanced mission system you won't find in any truck.

By James W. Ramsey - Avionics Magazine

The U.S. Navy's new Multimission Maritime Aircraft (MMA), a modified Boeing 737-800, is touted as a significantly enhanced mission platform, compared with the venerable P-3C it will replace. Prime contractor Boeing and the Navy assert that the commercially proven twin-engine jet offers greater speed, agility and endurance, and can better accommodate the P-3C's primary anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare missions, as well as a limited intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) role.

"We look at the Boeing solution as providing a low-risk `truck'--a very highly proven, reliable airframe--to go with an open missions systems architecture, providing a very flexible platform that will easily accommodate future upgrades," says James Lackey, the Navy's deputy program manager for MMA.

"As soon as the first 737 MMA aircraft is delivered to the Navy, our nation's naval forces will have a dramatic increase in capability and reliability," claims Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive officer of Boeing's St. Louis-based Integrated Defense Systems unit. MMA is expected to provide 1,600 Boeing jobs in St. Louis, Seattle and Patuxent River, Md., home of Naval Air Systems Command.

The Navy awarded the Boeing-led industry team--which includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Smiths Aerospace--a $3.9-billion contract in June for the program's system development and demonstration (SDD) phase. It includes production of three flyable aircraft by 2010, two mission demonstrators and one aircraft to test flying characteristics. Four more aircraft not included in the SDD award are to be built for testing and evaluation purposes. Plans call for 108 production aircraft (which may be called the P-8 or PC-40) to replace the Navy's aging fleet of 191 P-3C aircraft. (The original P-3A Orion began flying in 1959, and the upgraded P-3C joined the fleet in 1969.) Total acquisition value to the Boeing team is estimated at $20 billion, and far more if it wins a 20-year support contract. The schedule calls for low-rate initial production of 34 operational aircraft to be built from 2010 to 2012. Full-rate production is to begin in 2013 and initial operational capability (IOC) is slated to take place the same year.

The reason for the P-3 replacement? "The major need comes from the P-3s' having reached their service life--the metal in the aircraft is reaching its fatigue life," explains Tim Norgart, director of business development for Boeing's MMA program. "So if they were retained, they would basically have to be rebuilt."

"Right now [the P-3s] are being retired at a pretty significant rate," he adds. "Their processing systems and sensors also are in dire need of upgrades." Norgart, a former P-3C wing commander, says the Navy found it would be difficult to upgrade older aircraft with newer systems because of their older architecture. He believes the Navy has "a quantifiable need for [the B737] platform for its `assured access' mission." A long-range patrol aircraft capable of doing anti-submarine warfare (ASW) is a major requirement in the Navy's Seapower 21 war fighting doctrine, which outlines how the Navy will fight for the next 20 years.

"If you can't get into a body of water to operate an aircraft carrier, then you can't get a whole lot of Hornets [F/A-18s] across the beach," says Norgart. "So the MMA will be out there in front of the fleet, clearing the way and making sure the water is safe for them to go through."

Boeing Selected

Aside from producing the Navy's F/A-18, Boeing brings to the table considerable maritime experience in ASW, anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and reconnaissance operations. The company integrates the tactical command system--the core of the mission system--for the UK's Nimrod (maritime reconnaissance aircraft) MRA-4, an upgraded version of the MRA-2 ASW surveillance aircraft. From its Anaheim, Calif., division Boeing also provides part of the acoustic processing system for the P-3C--as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin. And Boeing integrates the Nimrod's acoustic processing system, which processes information received from the sonabuoys and displays it to onboard analysts for interpretation. Boeing will build the MMA's acoustic processing system.

In the cockpit Smiths Aerospace provides the flight management system (FMS)--similar to that provided for the commercial B737-300/400/500 and NG, but with added functionality. "We're taking our civil FMS [software] and adding the tactical functions we provided for Nimrod, with a few changes as we go along," says Jim Smith, military air transport marketing manager for Smiths Aerospace's Grand Rapids, Mich., business unit.

A unique FMS feature on Nimrod "is the ability for multiple climb, cruise and descent profiles, allowing [the flight crew] to plan for different tactical situations," Smith says. He adds that the commercial 737 FMS computer will be replaced on the MMA by a newly designed one that is being developed for the Boeing 767 tanker program. Smiths' FMS provides an integrated open architecture that is compliant with communication, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) standards and provides an inherent growth path for upgrades, the company maintains.

The FMS will use ARINC 653 partitioned operating environment software, which allows multiple applications on the same processor. "Because the aircraft is going to have so many more functions in the cockpit and in the back, the AFMC [avionics flight management computer] is going to be asked to do much more than just [manage] the FMS," Smith says. The AFMC will interface with a mission computer in the back of the aircraft, which controls the sonabuoys dropped into the water.

The Flight Dynamics unit of Rockwell Collins will supply the MMA's HGS 4000 head-up guidance system; however, the Navy has not yet decided whether the cockpit will be equipped with two systems or a single system for the captain. The MMA HUD incorporates mission modifications that include display of tactical symbology and enhanced vision system (EVS) video, in addition to normal primary flight guidance symbology. The HGS 4000 "enables MMA pilots to keep eyes out of the cockpit during the low-altitude maneuvering often required over water," says John Thomas, Flight Dynamics' principal marketing manager.

The MMA's HUD system is comparable to ones offered as options for the B737. The HGS Model 2300 is installed on earlier 737-300/400/500 aircraft, and the later model HGS 4000 series is on the next generation (NG) 737-600-900 series. Flight Dynamics has delivered more than 900 systems for various B737 models, which include the Navy and Air Force C-40 fleets and the Australian Wedgetail 737 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

Cockpit Displays

The MMA cockpit is expected to feature the same basic avionics systems as the B737NG. The commercial aircraft employs five 8-by-8-inch displays across the cockpit, with a sixth display just above the center pedestal. The tactical situation normally will be shown on the pedestal display, but will be "rotatable" to the inboard pilot and copilot displays on the forward panel at the flight crew's discretion. The cockpit display, a smaller version of the tactical display in the back of the airplane, will include situational awareness information such as radar contacts and sonabuoy symbols. The B737NG cockpit displays are interchangeable. If one fails, the screen next to it automatically shifts to a split screen and displays the information from the failed screen.

The B737NG features, as standard, Honeywell flat panel displays, or multifunction display units (MFDUs), as well as the air data inertial reference system (ADIRS) and enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS). Optional, customer-selected Honeywell equipment on the commercial aircraft includes GPS navigation, radios, weather radar, traffic alert collision avoidance system (TCAS), communications management, and a cockpit voice recorder.

A Honeywell spokeswoman emphasizes that the Navy has not yet announced its selection of cockpit instrumentation for the MMA. But Boeing's philosophy is "that they are going to use as much off-the-shelf commercial aircraft equipment as possible," says Smith. "Changes will be made only where mission requirements dictate."

Northrop Grumman's Baltimore-based Electronic System sector will provide the MMA's electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, the early warning self-protection suite, and electronic support measures (ESM). It also will integrate the aircraft's self-protection suite with the ESM suite.

The MMA's EO/IR sensor will be a new system called Night Hunter II. It builds on the company's Litening targeting pod, which is installed on the Air Force's F-16, F-15 and A-10 aircraft. The new system, used to identify targets, will be fitted to a stabilized, retractable turret.

Northrop Grumman's directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system, which also is on the C-130, provides the MMA's IR countermeasures capability as part of the self-protection suite. Northrop Grumman also will provide a new radio frequency (RF) countermeasures system, developed at the company's Baltimore and Rolling Meadows, Ill., facilities, says Kent Murray, the company's program manager.

The MMA's self-protection suite will include Raytheon's towed decoy. The ESM system, used for electronic surveillance, will be an enhanced all-digital receiver system located in the aircraft's nose. It is based on the LR-100 currently flown on the Air Force's Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle. Murray believes "the ability to integrate sensor suites, such as self-protection and ESM, means lower costs and higher reliability due to [the installation of] fewer electronic boxes. It also streamlines information flow," he adds.

Raytheon will equip the MMA with an upgraded APS-137 maritime surveillance radar. It will have the same capabilities as its APS-137D(V)5 radar in production for the Navy's P-3 ASuW improvement program. Sixty-eight upgraded P-3Cs currently fly with the system. This radar system provides maritime surveillance modes, as well as high-resolution, inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR). ISAR is used "for imaging and classifying small, fast-moving vessels that operate close to shore, and SAR is for overland imaging, target identification, battle damage assessment, and precision geo-location of land targets," says Brad Hopper, business development manager for Raytheon's Precision Attack and Surveillance Systems, in McKinney, Texas.

Key improvements over earlier radar systems to be offered for the MMA include an upgraded color weather mode, full integration with the Boeing MMA mission system, and joint technical architecture (JTA) compliance. That means the radar is part of the MMA network backbone and supports network centric operations.

Raytheon also is offering a GPS with anti-jam capability, identification friend or foe (IFF), a broadcast information system (BIS) and secure UHF satcom capability. These products can provide MMA with network centric connectivity.

Looking like a stinger sticking out of the MMA's tail will be a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) provided by CAE, says Norgart. It is designed to detect submarines by measuring disturbances of the Earth's magnetic field caused by large metal objects under water.

Weapons Control

Boeing has yet to select the provider of the mission computing and display system (MCDS). However, it chose Smiths Aerospace to provide the system that controls all weapons on the aircraft. A central stores management processor takes input from the mission computer and then sends messages out to station control units (SCUs) at each of the MMA's pylons. The MMA will have two pylons on each wing, two centerline weapons stations and a weapons bay with two SCUs--one for the sonabuoys. "The SCUs send signals to the individual weapons," Smith explains. "If you have smart weapons that need data, they will be responsible for loading that data, as well."

The aircraft will carry 12,500 pounds (680 kg) of weapons, including missiles, torpedoes, depth bombs, mines and sonabuoys in a weapons bay and on wing and fuselage pylons. Three sonabuoy automated rotary launchers--located behind the wing, inside the weapons bay--are pressurized and can be loaded before takeoff or in flight. Harpoon and Slam-ER antiship missiles would be launched from the wing pylons.

Five mission tactical workstations will be located over the MMA's wing. Each one will feature two wide-screen multifunction displays. Both screens will be touch-sensitive, so targets or tracks can be designated either by touch or by a track ball. "You can look at sensor data overlaid on top of other sensor data and still maintain your main screen for a full tactical plot," says Boeing's Norgart. "Or you can split the screen."

The same software used in the tactical displays will run on a desktop or laptop computer, as well as in the MMA weapons system and in the tactical support centers. "The software is completely portable and reconfigurable," Norgart adds. "You can even reconfigure it on a desktop in your office before you go flying, then plug your memory stick into the USB port on the front of the display and dump all your preferences right into the system."

The tactical display system is configured to be faster and require "a lot less operator entry [than the P-3C's tactical display]. It gives the operator more time to evaluate tactics and return to the days of being a tactician and analyst rather than a system operator," Norgart maintains. The MMA's GPS navigation system also will be the reference for the tactical system used in the back of the aircraft.

The MMA's communications suite and data link package will include the ability to move pictures, video and data between the aircraft and other units. Radios, line of sight data links and satellite communications, including an Inmarsat system, will be used to move large amounts of data long distances. Initial data link speed is expected to be slightly higher than Inmarsat's Swift 64 service used on some business jets. Swift64 provides 64 kilobits/s (Kbits/s), up to 128 Kbits/s if systems are combined. The satcom antenna will be mounted on top of the MMA's tail. Although Boeing has demonstrated the Connexion by Boeing high-speed broadband communications system, it is not part of MMA at this time.

Communications Links

The Navy plans to have Link 11 and Link 16 data distribution on the MMA. Using Link 11, surveillance data can be sent or received through two HF channels, a single UHF channel or via UHF satcom. "Link 11 interfaces with the communications set on the airplane and the mission computer via the 5053 avionics bus," says the Navy's Lackey. "It is embedded within the mission computer processor, and we provide encryption through a subset."

Link 16 is a stand-alone box with a transmitter/receiver, power supply and its own encryption/decryption. With this data distribution system "MMA will be able to get com, nav and ID capabilities for airborne tactical operation," Lackey says. It also has an embedded Tacan functionality, providing distance and bearing. "But the main purpose of Link 16 is to allow the MMA to post info onto a net and then pull info from the net in a network centric environment, allowing the mission operation to take place."

Open System

Link 16 offers a machine-to-machine interface for the exchange of targeting data. It also facilitates communications between MMA and an aircraft carrier or home base. "All the systems required to make the data link secure and support those communications will be on board, allowing you to talk to a commercial merchant ship, an aircraft carrier, or exchange data with an AWACS [airborne warning and control system] aircraft," Norgart says.

Boeing plans to use "industry standard interfaces and protocols in developing the MMA's mission system, so it can be grown easily and affordably. "Using standard programming languages like C++ and Java, we're able to put in the hooks, as we call them, for the next set of sensors and tools that will be used by this system," Norgart explains.

For example, he cites the new JTRS (Joint Tactical Radio System), planned to be operational by 2008. With MMA, the old radios can be taken out and JTRS plugged in. And when the next generation data link becomes available, "you'll be able to just load it as an application rather than completely rewrite the software,"he says.

By building the architecture this way, with no proprietary software code, the Navy will not have to come back to Boeing to upgrade its software. Norgart claims, "that really has never been done before for DoD [Department of Defense]."

Why a Jet?

Skeptics may question the U.S. Navy's selection of a commercial jetliner for missions that include low-level, over-the-water surveillance. Not to worry, says Boeing's Tim Norgart. "We've taken the aircraft [the Boeing Business Jet, based on the B737] out twice now and let the Navy fly it. We put weight on board to duplicate an MMA's mid-mission weight, above 150,000 pounds [68,040 kg], and let the Navy pilots fly it [at] 200 feet off the water at loiter speeds of 208 knots." (MMA's maximum takeoff weight is 184,200 pounds [83,555 kg].)

The high-bypass turbofan engines are fuel-efficient, says Norgart, adding that the fuel burn curve at 500 feet (about 4,000 pounds per hour) vs. 30,000 feet is only about 700 pounds different per hour. He adds that the turbofan is more reliable than the turboprop because it has fewer parts.

The Navy's range and endurance requirements call for 1,200 nm out, four hours on station searching for submarines, and 1,200 nm back home. Boeing says its aircraft exceeds that requirement. Norgart points out that while a P-3 will take four hours to get to the target, MMA will be there in less than three hours. "That equates to a higher probability of target detection, since it can't travel away as far from the tracking aircraft," he says.

Another advantage of the Boeing jet over a turboprop aircraft is the ability to self-deploy faster, according to Norgart. A fully loaded MMA is billed as having a 4,800- to 4,900-nm self-deployment range, cruising at 445 knots. Aerial refueling presumably would need to be infrequent. The Navy has bases that allow deployment worldwide, Boeing maintains.

Boeing claims that its aircraft climbs better on one engine than a P-3 on four engines. The 737 can accelerate from 200 to better than 320 knots in seconds, and can perform ascents and descents in excess of 10,000 feet per minute, the company says.


18 Apr 2005 - SATCOM scores with U.S. Navy

The local SATCOM division of EMS Technologies announced today a US$1.5-million contract with Boeing Co. for its broadband satellite communication terminals.

SATCOM's systems will be used in the U.S. Navy's P-8A multi-mission maritime aircraft (MMA) program.

The P-8A is a derivative of the Boeing 737 aircraft that has been serving airlines around the world for decades. Phases 1 and 2 of the program amount to $1.5 million and will commence in mid-2005 with the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase. Equipment deliveries will continue through 2009.

"We are pleased to have EMS SATCOM as a supplier to the P-8A program," said Tim Norgart, director of P-8A business development at Boeing. "The HSD-400 is a powerful satellite communications platform for multi-mission aircraft, providing the war fighter with aeronautical safety services and real-time broadband connectivity in one component."

EMS SATCOM vice-president and general manager Neil Mackay said the selection was further proof that his company was a major player in the industry.

"We are delighted that Boeing selected our eNfusion HSD-400. It is another significant win for us.

"With more than 400 HSD-128's in the field, most of which are used by the U.S. military, our solutions are battle tested and proven reliable."

EMS Technologies provides technology solutions to wireless and satellite markets. The company focuses on mobile information users, and increasingly on broadband applications. Its corporate headquarters is in Atlanta.

The SATCOM division specializes in the design and development of satellite-based terminals and antennas for the aeronautical, land mobile, maritime and emergency management markets.


15 Apr 2005 - A team led by Boeing recently completed 1,300 hours of high-speed wind-tunnel testing of the U.S. Navy’s Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA), which was recently given the designation P-8A.

The three-month program concluded a full week ahead of schedule on March 18. The team conducted the tests at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffet Field, Calif., using a 6.2 percent scale model in the 11-ft. transonic wind tunnel

“I was impressed with the teamwork across the entire test program,” said Neal Mosbarger, Boeing’s flight technology manager. “We had three subcontractors on site to help with model changes, as well as Naval Air Systems ( NAVAIR ) representatives and Boeing folks all working with the NASA staff 24 hours a day, five days a week.”

Mosbarger added that preliminary analysis of test data revealed no major surprises or obvious problems. He credits teamwork for improving test productivity that saved 200 hours of the testing time.

An estimated 4,000 hours of wind-tunnel time will be logged in developing the P-8A. Designers used tools such as computational fluid dynamics to refine designs before testing to eliminate a substantial amount of tunnel time required to develop earlier designs. In addition, the 737-800 commercial airframe, currently in service with airlines around the world, has already undergone flight-testing.

The Boeing-led industry team, which includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman [NYSE: NOC], Raytheon [NYSE: RTN], and Smiths Aerospace [LSE: SMIN.L] will produce five test aircraft during the program’s system development and demonstration ( SDD ) phase. The Navy plans to purchase up to 108 aircraft to replace its aging fleet of P-3 aircraft.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world’s largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $30.5 billion business. It provides network-centric system solutions to its global military, government, and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; the world’s largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world’s largest satellite manufacturer and a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA’s largest contractor; and a global leader in sustainment solutions and launch services.


12 Sep 2004 - Sub-hunter assembly on new line of attack Boeing modifications for Navy jet to occur on production line

BY MOLLY MCMILLIN, The Wichita Eagle

Boeing Wichita has modified plenty of aircraft for the military over the years, but never quite like this.

From Air Force One to airborne laser aircraft, Boeing Wichita's usual modification task has been to adapt an already-built commercial airplane.

For the Navy's new anti-submarine warfare aircraft, things will be different.

To help deliver a plane more quickly and less expensively, Boeing Wichita has come up with a way to make changes much, much earlier in the process.

To transform a 737 airframe into a sub-hunting plane for the Navy, Boeing will incorporate a multitude of changes in the fuselage literally as it goes down the production line in Wichita.

Boeing Wichita's ability to do that stems from the plant's multiple roles within the Boeing company.

Boeing's Wichita plant builds pieces of just about all Boeing commercial jetliners before they are assembled in Seattle-area plants. Boeing Wichita also is a longtime modification center.

In short, Boeing Wichita works on planes both before and after they are assembled. But on the Navy sub plane, modification work usually done after the plane has been built will instead be incorporated into the early assembly line work in Wichita.

The stakes for the Boeing Co. are large. The program, known officially as the Multi-Mission Aircraft (MMA) program, could ultimately be worth more than $40 billion.

A victory in the competition for the Navy contract was no sure thing for Boeing. The Navy had been using Lockheed planes as sub-hunters for decades, and Lockheed Martin was bidding against Boeing for the new contract.

Initial conversations between Boeing and the Navy included talk of building the fuselage in Wichita, shipping it to Renton, Wash., for final assembly, then flying it back to Wichita for the changes. In short, doing it the same way it had been done in the past.

But the Navy had some concerns about that process.

It would have meant tearing a perfectly good plane apart when it was flown to Wichita for the mod work, throwing away two major sections and replacing them with new ones, said Troy Weissbeck, a Wichita operations manager on the project.

So a small group of Boeing Wichita commercial airplane workers kicked around the idea of building the changes into the plane as it progressed down the production line.

The group began talking to Boeing employees in the military division and joined forces to study the concept.

The concept became part of Boeing's proposal to the Navy. It proved to be a winner when the Navy announced June 14 that it had chosen Boeing to build its next generation of sub-hunting aircraft.

The initial contract calls for Boeing to design and develop five aircraft. The deal could be worth a total of about $44 billion if the Navy moves forward with a plan to buy 108 aircraft.

That's important to Wichita, where workers produce the 737 fuselage.

To get the Navy contract, Boeing had to convince the Navy that its 737 was better suited for maritime patrol operations than the competition.

Today, the Navy uses Lockheed Martin's P-3 Orion for the mission; Lockheed was proposing an upgraded version of the four-engine turboprop.

Boeing also had to offer an alternative to the P-3 that was less expensive.

That meant refining the plane's production, Boeing officials say.

Making the changes as the fuselage moves down the production line rather than modifying the plane after it is built will accelerate the delivery schedule to the Navy by a year, company officials say.

It also will cut costs and improve quality.

The Wichita team studied several production alternatives, including a rejected plan to establish the final assembly line in Wichita.

To undertake the plan to make changes down the 737 production line, however, meant the team first had to overcome 20 major issues it had documented as "risks with this approach," said Richard Treat, the MMA capture team leader for Boeing's military division in Wichita.

Team members had to work through the myriad of regulations under the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations regarding the control of defense items and technical data and military equipment.

At Boeing's final assembly plant in Renton, that means setting up a separate production line apart from its commercial line. In Wichita, complying with regulations means the planes will be built using the same commercial lines, but with a number of changes.

The plant will isolate some computer systems, limit where some people can go in the plant and separate some "critical processes."

It also means keeping outside maintenance workers as well as some Boeing workers, those defined as "foreign persons" by the U.S. government, from certain areas, said Dennis Silsby, Boeing Wichita integration team leader for commercial airplanes.

Currently, Boeing Wichita is doing the planning for the work and setting up the processes.

The Wichita-built fuselage will be different from other 737 fuselages when it leaves the plant.

For one, it will be a heavier and stronger airplane, Weissbeck said.

The fuselage will have racks for electrical equipment, a bomb bay, few windows and cutouts for antennae.

It's a three-year process from the design to the shipment of the fuselage, Silsby said.

One of the biggest challenges was developing two proposals for the Navy -- one that built the plane, then incorporated modifications afterward, the other making the changes in the production line, Silsby said.

The two plans were needed "because we weren't sure which one was going to knock them on the head," Silsby said.

Boeing officials would not say whether any of the processes being developed for the Navy program would change should Boeing sell its Wichita commercial operations.

Boeing has been talking to potential buyers of the facility. The military division in Wichita is not for sale.

Suffice it to say, Weissbeck said, "you can't stop shipping fuselages to the Northwest."

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