P-8 Poseidon for Navy in sight?

The photo to the right is the very first P-8A Poseidon fuselage being lowered into a tooling fixture at Renton, Washington on April 3 this year. The Indian government is almost certain to sign up in the coming couple of weeks for eight long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, with the option for four-to-eight more for the Navy. Boeing submitted its bid in April 2006, and field evaluations were held in June 2007 on an official test-bed platform -- production of the first P-8 (in the photo) didn't start till December 2007. The Navy was given a demonstration of the P-8 on a P-3 Orion testbed for systems, a C-40 for handling and a leased 737-800 for flight trials.

This could go down as one of the shortest timed wins if Boeing does land the deal -- though in official circles this is being taken as a given already. It would also be very welcome for a company that's still licking its wounds over the massively abortive tanker bid. (Slide to the left is from a presentation Boeing made during Aero India 2007, showing the aircraft's surveillance range and sweep)

When it lands the deal, the P-8 will have beaten the EADS MPA A319-CJ (see photo, along with the larger A320 MPA) a platform the company was putting together for other European nations. The deal to Boeing actually puts a pretty big damper on EADS' plans with its MPA family, though there's still whole bunches of legacy Atlantique-class fleets in European navies that are in desparate need of replacement.

The Navy plans to deploy its new airplanes at INS Rajali in Arakkonam, currently home to its fleet of magnificent Tu-142 long range maritime reconnaisance turboprops. By the time the new babies start arriving around 2012, the Tu-142s will slowly be eased out of service in a phased manner

Photo of P-8A fuselage by Jim Anderson ©Copyright Boeing IDS; Artists impression of MPA319-CJ with Indian Navy livery ©EADS

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