Boeing has started to offer to foreign customers a new medium-sized maritime surveillance aircraft based on technology developed for its P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Boeing sees a potential $10 billion market for the aircraft.
The aircraft, which Boeing officials say is based on a "super mid-sized business jet", would leverage the best of the P-8's technology. Boeing will not identify the exact type of aircraft, however, but will say it is a fairly large jet with high-bypass turbofans.
Using another airframer's machine to develop the new surveillance platform is a major departure from previous Boeing practice.
The aircraft would not be armed, says Egan Greenstein, Boeing's director of business development for naval surveillance and engagement programmes. Nor would it retain the P-8's anti-submarine warfare capability.
Instead the aircraft will be focused on the aerial surveillance of maritime and ground targets, Greenstein says. It would also collect intelligence via electronic means.
That allows the number of crew to drop to three from the P-8's five and allow for a smaller airframe.
Boeing is funding the effort internally and expects to fly the jet next year, Greenstein says. But Boeing has already pitched the aircraft to various customers around the world as part of its responses to customer queries.
Eventually, the US Air Force could be a customer, Greenstein says. But the best solution for the USAF's requirements to replace its special mission aircraft fleet are Boeing 737-based solutions, he adds.