While bitter successive delays in delivering the 737 Max to its civilian customers, Boeing has at least managed to maintain the jet’s production line with the maritime patrol P-8 Poseidon variant. In the past 12 months, airframer has delivered 35 units of its most popular jet, 15 of them from the P-8. In the same period, 12 737-800, five 737-900ER, two 737-700C and one BBJ were delivered.
In 2020, four units of the variant were delivered, the most recent of which was the 100th aircraft for the US Navy. The maritime patrol aircraft is based on the 737-800NG, the generation before the 737 MAX, and has been in service since 2013.
“We’re honored by the Navy’s faith and confidence in our employees and the P-8 system,” said Stu Voboril, vice president and program manager. “Our focus has been, and will be, on delivering the world’s best maritime patrol aircraft, bar none.”
The US Navy has 94 P-8 units with combat capability while six other planes are used Engineering Manufacturing Development test aircraft. In addition to the United States, Poseidon is also in service in Australia, the United Kingdom and India. According to Boeing, the worldwide military aircraft fleet is close to completing 300,000 flight hours.
Successor to the P-3 Orion
The 737 assumed the role of military aircraft in the 2000s when it was chosen to be the replacement for the P-3 Orion turboprop, also derived from a civilian aircraft, the Lockheed Electra II, and which has been in service since 1962.
Boeing P-8 performed its first flight on April 25, 2009 and deliveries began in November 2011. Each aircraft is valued at about $ 250 million, more than double the price of a civilian 737-800.
Larger than the P-3, Poseidon can carry four Harpoon missiles, five torpedoes and 129 sonar buoys in addition to 20,000 pounds of payload. Its range is 8,300 km, which means flying for 10 hours uninterrupted and which can be extended by aerial refueling.
The good sales performance of the P-8 can be noted by the fact that the aircraft was also chosen by South Korea, Norway and New Zealand, in addition to being negotiated with the armed forces of Canada, Italy, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
The US Navy has yet to order another 22 units of the P-8 that are due to be delivered by 2023, when the P-3 will be decommissioned.