The Navy has ordered its first production lot of P-8A Poseidon aircraft from Boeing in a $2.4 billion contract, according to Boeing officials.
The order for 18 additional aircraft means the program will enter full production.
The order takes the total fleet to 53 and marks the transition from preliminary to low-rate production of the P-8A, which will bolster maritime patrol capabilities, the company said.
Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita builds the fuselage for the P-8A, which is based on a 737-800 commercial aircraft.
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So far, Boeing has delivered 13 P-8As to the Navy, which deployed its first patrol squadron to Kadena, Japan, in December.
“This milestone is a testament to the incredible effort and dedication of the team to deliver the P-8A to the fleet as planned,” Navy P-8A program manager Capt. Scott Dillon said in a statement. “The future of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance community has begun to make history with the P-8As already delivered to the fleet. These full-rate production aircraft will give us the opportunity to deliver the best system through a cost-effective procurement contract.”
The P-8A will enhance the service’s anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, Boeing said.
The Navy plans to buy a total of 117 P-8As to replace its P-3 fleet.
Boeing’s P-8 team includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.