Boeing is seeking to begin exporting its new P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) as early as 2011 and expects to secure US government approval to offer the 737-based platform to India by next month, when it is required to submit a bid for eight maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
|Boeing's P-8A could meet a requirement for eight maritime aircraft|
“We are working with the US government to get approval,” says Dave Schweppe, Boeing’s business development director for naval systems. “Our plan is to get approval prior to the release of our proposal.”
India has emerged as the first potential export customer for the P-8A, after Australia, Canada and Italy last year rejected an offer to participate in the MMA programme’s system development and demonstration phase. Schweppe says those countries may still acquire the P-8A later and that becoming a co-development partner is not a requirement for securing early delivery slots.
The Indian navy requires deliveries to begin four years after contract signature and is believed to have also asked BAE Systems, EADS, Ilyushin and Lockheed Martin to submit proposals by mid-March. Schweppe expects New Delhi will be ready to sign a contract for new maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) in 2007 or 2008 and says P-8A deliveries to export customers are feasible in 2011-12. “We think we’re well within the window,” he says.
The US Navy, which plans to acquire 108 P-8As, expects to achieve initial operating capability with the type in 2013, but Schweppe says this may be accelerated to 2012. Boeing expects to sell at least another 108 P-8As to international customers over the next 20 years, with several additional countries that require replacement maritime patrol aircraft having already asked the company to provide information on the programme. The MMA officially entered the detail design phase on 1 February and is scheduled to undergo a critical design review by the USN during 2007.