The first British P-8A Poseidon fuselage has been delivered by to Boeing.

The Poseidon force Twitter account also noted that the wings will be joined to the fuselage in the coming weeks.

Adding that delivery of the first aircraft to NAS Jacksonville is scheduled for October this year.

Recently we reported that aircrew have commenced the flying phase of training to fly the Poseidon MRA Mk1 (P-8A), the UK’s new maritime patrol aircraft.

The RAF say in a release that Pilots, Weapons System Officers and Weapons Systems Operators have entered the simulator and flying phase of their six-month course.

The personnel, from CXX Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth, are being trained by a mix of US Navy and RAF P-8A ‘seedcorn’ one-way exchange instructors on a course which covers a substantial range of topics.

This includes being trained to fly at medium and low level over the sea, so that the mission crew can train in Anti-Submarine Warfare and Anti-Surface Warfare.

“In parallel to the training activity, aircraft production is continuing. In January the auxiliary fuel tanks were completed by Marshall Aerospace & Defence Group in Cambridge and the keel of the first UK P-8 was laid in Witchita, Kansas.

Assembly of the aircraft then commenced in February with the fuselage competed at the end of March. Once complete the fuselage of the first UK Poseidon was taken by train some 2000 miles to the Boeing Plant at Renton, Seattle where assembly will be completed. The aircraft is expected to conduct its first flight this summer.

The Poseidon is based on the Boeing 737-800NG aircraft, the supply chain for which is already supported by UK industry, providing several hundred direct UK jobs. UK manufacturers also provide specialist sub-systems for the P-8A, for example Marshalls (auxiliary fuel tanks), Martin Baker (crew seats), GE (Weapon Pylons) and GKN Aerospace (windshields).

In January, Boeing was awarded an almost $2.5 billion contract to produce 19 P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the US Navy, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Ten of the aircraft are for the US Navy, four for the UK and five for Norway.

The UK intends to procure 9 of the aircraft in total and had already ordered five. This purchase brings the total UK order of P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft up to 9.

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Mike Saul

I look forward to the day when these aircraft enter RAF service and we can finally forget about Nimrod MRA4.

Gunbuster

Unfortunately nobody will ever forget that Cluster….

Alan Reid

What a scandal, Mike, £4 Billion spent, and in typical hopeless Brit fashion, Cameron cancels the aircraft after they finally get it working ………. Sigh, I do miss the Nimrod!
IMHO, a Boeing 737 is something you use to go on holiday, not hunt subs in the North Atlantic! LOL

Mike Saul

My understanding was that MRA4 was not ready for service and an unknown amount of money (probably running into billions) was required to fix a long list of outstanding safety issues with no certainty they could be resolved. The project had a risk of failure even in 2010. With the benefit of hindsight the project should been cancelled in the early 2000s, when significant problems were found. Then we have the cost of ongoing support costs for a bespoke aircraft with a run of only 9 aircraft. The MRA4 like the AEW3 was a poorly conceived project. High risk, high… Read more »

Alan Reid

Hi Mike, Doctor Sue Robertson’s evidence to the UK Defence committee in 2010 is a useful counter-point to the case against the Nimrod MRA4.
You can still find it on the UK parliament site through a simple Google search.
Anecdotally, I did also have correspondence with a retired RAF pilot who had some contacts in the flight-test team; that individual stated the aircraft was performing well at the time of cancellation.

Mike Saul

Thank you for the reply. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the MRA4 and my opinions are from reading both the popular and technical press. For example from the Times “Classified documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal Ministry of Defence (MoD) safety tests conducted last year on the first Nimrod MRA4, built by BAE Systems, found “several hundred design non-compliances”. Among them were problems opening and closing the bomb bay doors, failures of the landing gear to deploy, overheating engines and gaps in the engine walls, limitations operating in icy conditions, and concerns that “a single bird-strike”… Read more »

Alan Reid

Hi Mike, For me, cancellation of the MRA4 was a national scandal. I think the MoD furiously briefed to try and deflect attention from the incoherence of its decision. Again, for me, Robertson did convincingly demolish the claims aired in the London Times; some examples below …… “problems opening and closing the bomb bay doors” 3.3.4 There was no problem with the bomb bay doors. “failures of the landing gear to deploy” 3.3.5 The landing gear never failed to deploy/retract. There were two instances of nose wheel door indication failure due to incorrectly positioned nose wheel door micro-switches — this… Read more »

John Clark

Alan, the main problem with the MR4, (apart from the fact it should have been cancelled very early on, as the numbers dropped below 16) is the fact that operating and subsequently upgrading a bespoke fleet of just 9 aircraft would have been ferociously expensive and quite frankly barking mad! The UK P8, plugs directly into the enormous US Navy support and rolling upgrade packages, bringing massive savings to the UK tax payer over the coming decades. The MR4 would have cost us a fortune to operate over 30 years. The MR4 would however, have been (by a long way)… Read more »

Alan Reid

Hi John, You make a good argument (with some support, I see!) and I don’t dispute Nimrod MRA4 was a troubled programme. It was, however, on the verge of delivering a significant capability to the Royal Air Force. And one which won’t be matched by the Poseidon. I’ve also supplied evidence that the stated reasons for it’s cancellation are authoritatively challenged by members of the flight-test team. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmdfence/761/761vw15.htm It’s speculation how much MRA4 would have cost over its lifetime; but would it have cost the £3 Billion that the UK is now spending for a replacement (inferior) aircraft? That certainly… Read more »

Sam Johnson

Having worked at Woodford at the time I can tell you that each airframe was essentially custom. It was a cluster**** from the beginning. Never understood why we didn’t purchase secondhand P-3’s to cover the gap and upgrade them to suit our needs same as the Aussies did with the AP-3C.

wayne thornley

Says it all when test pilots wouldn’t fly it without self contained air supply n flame retardant suits

Daniele Mandelli

Nimrod MRA4.

21, then 18, then 16, then 12, then 9.

The bare minimum becomes the benchmark.

Let’s hope that eventually we get more than 9.

Nick C

You are certainly right on that point. And interestingly the current FY20 budget request asks for funds for the last 6 aircraft for the USN. After that the production line closes, so if we don’t get the purchasing act together reasonably soon, 9 will be all we can get. And that is simply nowhere near enough, particularly since we are going to be busier in the Indian Ocean and the Far East.

Daniele Mandelli

Echoes of C17 when we didn’t order numbers 9 and 10.

I didn’t know the production line was closing…

Nick C

At least with the C17 we did have the A400 coming along, which can arguably do some of the C17 tasking? With the P8 the airframe is based on the 737 NG, and that has been superseded by the Max. I know they have current problems, but that will be sorted out in pretty short order. What won’t happen is a modified 737 Max to take over from the P8 production, it’s a very different beast. And once Boeing run out of orders the line will close promptly. Have a look at the Fy 20 requests, I may be wrong… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Cheers Nick.

keithdwat

Soooo why does it take 10 years to get 9 aircraft into service???

Daniele Mandelli

HMT dragging things out like the T26 build?

Has Seedcorn maintained enough crews to operate more than a handful?

Mike Saul

Lack of money

Peter Crisp

I know it’s frustrating but it does at least mean we’ll have a constant supply of fresh airframes going into the mix rather than having them all delivered as a big blob in a year or so.

Chris H
Ian Uk

Those three look damaged beyond repair.

On the subject of the 737NG, would the next natural progression not be the 777 long range (Commercial term 777 Dreamliner) which is a single isle narrow bodied airframe? The added advantage on that score would be the range. They have just been using the Dreamliner to do Perth (Aus) to Heathrow non-stop. Anything with legs on it like that would have a great deal of long range savings?

Michael Foster

You mean B787 Dreamliner and it is a twin aisle wide bodied airframe.

Chris H

If we are going to be looking at new airframes then we should be looking for a new specification and design but making best use of what is already out there. There are more capable and relevant airframes around than the very expensive 787 which is far too big: A321neo: Range of 7,400 Kms Takeoff weight of 97 Tonnes Length of 146 feet P-8 Poiseidon: Range of 8,400 Kms Takeoff weight of 86 Tonnes Length of 130 feet Just a suggestion if we went down the new build route. But I fear the spectre of Nimrod will make itself known… Read more »

Crabfat

Were these fuselages then used for ‘wet’ leasing?

Chris H

They were possibly early test aircraft where Boeing misunderstood ‘Maritime’ for ‘Naval’. Probably explains where the term ‘keel’ was used as well . …

Michael Foster

Is the P8-A Poseidon going to be fitted with winglets or scimitar wingtips? If not, why not? Having these installed will increase the aircraft range and loiter capability, or save fuel on short flights, take your pick. If this hasn’t been picked up by the relevant IPT and they take up this suggestion, can I have my GEMS award, it would be most appreciated.

julian1

Surely there will literally be 100s of 737 NG airframes with a multitude of different airlines and leasing companies. To expand the fleet from 9 after the production line has closed, isn’t it just a question of buying used airframes form an airline or leasing company and fitting the kit – alright, I know there may be some further difference, but surely they can’t be that fundamental or important or be retro-fitted? The advantage of basing the P8 on the 737 NG is that it is totally ubiquitous and therefore spares should never really be a problem

Chris H

Word is Boeing will soon have a few hundred 737 MAX airframes sitting at Renton …. Buy one get two free…

julian1

perhaps the 737 max could also be the first military flying submarine or do I mean the first diving plane. Not really that funny tbh