Staff Writer (Updated: 7/20/2016):
Outwardly, the P-8 retains the form of the original Boeing 737-800 line as it sports a well-contoured, tubular fuselage with low-mounted, swept-back monoplane wings, dihedral tailplanes and a single vertical tail fin. Two turbofan engines are slung under each wing. Various antenna and communication protrusions dot the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the fuselage. The cockpit is held at the extreme forward end of the fuselage aft of a short nose cone housing radar. While many physical facets of the P-8 are equal to that of the commercial Boeing 737, the P-8 is designed with in-flight refueling capabilities for increased loiter times.
The P-8 is outfitted with 2 x CFM International 56-7B series turbofan engines developing 27,300lbs of thrust each. Performance specifications includes an airspeed of 565 miles per hour, a service ceiling up to 41,000 feet and a range of 1,200 nautical miles with the ability to remain some four hours on station. The standard operating crew is nine and includes two pilots and up to seven mission specialists. Dimensions include a running length of 130 feet, a wingspan of 124 feet and a height of 42 feet.
Alongside the P-8's impressive electronics kit, the aircraft is also cleared for military ordnance in the form of torpedoes, cruise missiles, bombs and naval mines through use of internally-held rotary launchers via the weapons bay (five stations). Additionally, the P-8 will be able to deploy sonobuoys as needed and there are also six external weapon stations for munitions and mission pods. As such, the aircraft is the very definition of a full-service, "multi-mission" performer, capable of providing its own scanning, tracking, identification and engagement capabilities in one complete battlefield package. Integration for the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has also been added to further increase the aircraft's tactical value. A Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) is installed in the aft portion of the fuselage with an INMARSAT antenna system integrated into the extreme tip of the vertical tail fin. The onboard surface search radar is a Raytheon APY-10 series installation.
As of May 2014, the United States Navy has 13 P-8 aircraft in inventory. The line is in Full Rate Production (FRP) with the intended inventory total of 117 aircraft. The Indian Navy has placed an order for eight aircraft (with a total of 30 possible) as the P-8I "Neptune" while the Australian Navy has officially committed to the product. The initial Indian model arrived on May 15th, 2013. Other foreign interest has been shown by Canada, Italy and Norway.
United States Navy P-8 aircraft have been used in the recent extensive over-sea searches for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.
In December of 2015 it was announced that the British will employ a fleet of P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role once filled by since-retired Nimrod AEW3 and MRA4 aircraft. Nine P-8As are on order.
July 2016: At Farnborough 2016, the UK MoD officially committed to the purchase of nine Boeing P-8 aircraft. These will be used ion conjunction with the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers soon to come online as well as the existing nuclear submarine fleet. First delivery of two aircraft is expected in 2019. The final examples will arrive in 2021.