Boeing confirms that a US Navy P-8A Poseidon test aircraft achieved first flight early on Saturday, flying from its factory ?xml:namespace>Renton, Washington.?xml:namespace>
Details of the first flight event – first reported on FlightBlogger editor Jon Ostrower’s Twitter microblog – will be released on Monday, Boeing says.
Boeing has built two P-8A flight test aircraft – T-1 and T-2. The latter is the unpainted aircraft that made its debut flight. T-2 (shown below) has not yet flown, but has been painted in USN colours.
The P-8A is derived from the 737-800 modified with longer wings from the 737-900, hard points for missiles and an internal weapons bay. The aircraft also include a variety of maritime sensors and a mission system operated by nine crewmembers.
The USN plans to acquire both 108 P-8As and 68 RQ-4N broad area maritime surveillance unmanned aircraft systems to replace more than 220 Lockheed P-3C Orions.
The first P-8A squadron is scheduled to be ready for deployment in Fiscal 2013.
On 4 January, Boeing also signed a $2.1 billion deal with India for eight P-8Is to serve as maritime patrol aircraft.
SEE PHOTOS OF THE P-8A POSEIDON'S MAIDEN FLIGHT