First production P-8A airframe makes flight debut

Washington DC
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Seven months after contract award, Boeing has flown the first of 117 P-8A production airframes that will be delivered during the next eight years.

The first of six aircraft ordered in January for the first batch of low-rate initial production (LRIP-1) completed its maiden flight on 7 July after taking off from Renton Field, Washington, USA, Boeing announced on 19 July.

The 737-800ERX, modified to perform the US Navy's anti-submarine warfare mission, landed at nearby Boeing Field 3h later, where Boeing will install its mission system suite.

 
© Boeing

Boeing has also finished building six flight-test and two ground-test airframes during the seven-year-old system development and demonstration phase.

The LRIP-1 production model is the first P-8A airframe to incorporate the CFM56-7BE engine.

The aircraft must be delivered to the navy in 2012 and Boeing is still on schedule, Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice-president and P-8 programme manager, said.

The first operational unit is scheduled to be ready for combat in fiscal year 2013.

The P-8A will replace the majority of the US Navy's Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion fleet.