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Boeing P-8 Poseidon

Multi-mission Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft

The United States Navy has adopted the Boeing P-8 Poseidon to replace its aged fleet of Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft in the ASW role.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 7/24/2019
National Flag Graphic


Year: 2013
Status: Active, Limited Service
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Integrated Defense Systems - USA
Production: 59
Capabilities: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW); Anti-Ship; Reconnaissance (RECCE);
Crew: 9
Length: 129.49 ft (39.47 m)
Width: 123.49 ft (37.64 m)
Height: 42.09 ft (12.83 m)
Weight (Empty): 138,296 lb (62,730 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 189,201 lb (85,820 kg)
Power: 2 x CFM International CFM56-7B engines developing 27,000lb of thrust each.
Speed: 490 mph (789 kph; 426 kts)
Ceiling: 41,010 feet (12,500 m; 7.77 miles)
Range: 1,381 miles (2,222 km; 1,200 nm)
Operators: Australia; India; New Zealand (probable); Norway; South Korea; United Kingdom; United States
The Boeing P-8 "Poseidon" is a militarized form of the Boeing Model 737-800 NG ("Next Generation") airframe and has been developed specifically for the maritime patrol (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR)) and Anti-Submarine Warfare/Anti-Surface Warfare (ASW) roles. The P-8 was adopted by the United States Navy (USN) as a replacement for the aging line of prop-powered, Lockheed L-88 "Electra"-based P-3C "Orions" in steady service since the 1960s. The initial mark is the P-8A serving Naval Air Systems Command (NASC) and aircraft were contracted through Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS). The P-8 achieved Initial Operational Capabilities (IOC) in November of 2013 while Full Operational Capabilities (FOC) are expected during 2018.

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.

Program Updates

December 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.

August 2016 - It was announced that India will purchase an additional four P-8I aircraft.

November 2016 - Norway has announced plans to purchase five new-build P-8 Poseidon aircraft. These will succeed an aging fleet of Lockheed P-3 and Diamond DA-20 aircraft. Norway joins India and the United Kingdom in committing to the aircraft.

November 2016 - The P-8A began operational service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Planned Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is set for sometime in 2018 with fifteen of the aircraft planned for procurement. These will be operated alongside Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton UAVs and a pair of special-mission Gulfstream G550 aircraft. The combined fleet is set to replace nineteen Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion platforms.

December 2016 - The Norwegian order for five P-8 aircraft was approved by the United States government.

March 2017 - Current P-8 strength for the United States Navy stands at 52 aircraft. The USN has announced a procurement objective of 117 total P-8 platforms. Six additional aircraft were added by the new Trump Administration budget.

March 2017 - Norway has officially signed a deal for five P-8 aircraft. These will be used to replace the current fleet of six Lockehed P-3 Orion platforms as well as three Dassault Falcon 20 series aircraft.

April 2017 - Boeing has, on order, seventeen P-8A series aircraft to date.

April 2017 - New Zealand is actively searching for a replacement for its aging P-3 Orion fleet. The U.S. State Department has cleared the way for the country to purchase up to four P-8 Poseidon aircraft.

March 2018 - The P-8A has achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), some five months ahead of a stated program goal for the service.

June 2018 - South Korea has announced its intention to procure six P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for it Navy service with the possibility of growing this fleet in the near-future. The deal may be worth around $1.8 billion USD.

September 2018 - The United States government has approved a $2.1 billion deal with South Korea that includes six P-8A maritime patrollers as well as Patriot missile batteries. The U.S. State Department has since cleared the deal to go forward.

February 2019 - Boeing has netted a $2.5 billion USD deal for nineteen P-8 maritime patrollers by way of a Foreign Military Sale. Ten examples to go to the United States Navy, five to Norway, and four to the United Kingdom.

July 2019 - A Poseidon MRA.1, destined for the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force, completed its first flight on July 12th, 2019. Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is expected for sometime in 2020.


Mission-specific, largely for the anti-ship, anti-submarine maritime patrol role. Will include torpedoes, naval mines, depth charges and air-to-surface/anti-ship missiles. SLAM-ER stand-off cruise missile support also noted.

Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-ship missile
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo
Graphical image of an air launched cruise missile weapon

Cockpit Picture

Variants / Models

• Boeing 737-800 - Civilian Airframe on which the P-8 is being developed from.
• P-8 "Poseidon" - Base Series Designation
• P-8A - Initial Production Model Series Designation; US Navy.
• P-8I "Neptune" - Export derivative for Indian Navy.
• P-8 AGS - Proposed Airborne Ground Surveillance variant.
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