P-8 for India Makes 1st Test Flight
The first of eight P-8I maritime patrol aircraft Boeing is building for India made its first test flight on July 7, the firm said on July 11 at the Farnborough International Airshow.
The P-8I flew for almost four hours from Boeing Field in Seattle, part of a campaign that will see Boeing test the 737-800 derivative’s mission system before it adds dummy weapons standing in for Harpoon anti-ship missiles, depth bombs and torpedoes.
India will receive its first aircraft in early 2013 and pilots will begin training in Seattle later this year.
The testing follows in the footsteps of the U.S. campaign now involving two ground test aircraft and six flight test aircraft, of which three are being flown in military exercises, including in Australia. Torpedo testing has been carried out and wing weapon testing is due this year.
The first aircraft from the first low-rate initial production (LRIP) batch was delivered in March. “The second will be delivered soon, with one delivery a month subsequently,” said Fred Smith, business development director, Surveillance and Engagement, Defense, Space and Security at Boeing.
Initial operating capability is expected in 2013, with the first U.S. Navy squadron of four to six aircraft due to deploy in late 2013, he added.
The six aircraft in LRIP1 and seven in LRIP2 are under contract, while a contract for the 11 aircraft in LRIP3 will be signed soon, he said.
Australia has signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire aircraft from the second increment of production in 2016, which should see improvements in acoustic and anti-submarine systems.
Boeing, which had hoped to bring a P-8 to Farnborough but was thwarted by test schedules, predicts export sales of 75 to 100 P-8s.