The US Navy has awarded Boeing a contract to build a second lot of P-8A Poseidons, but nearly two years of development still remain for the anti-submarine warfare and patrol aircraft.

The $1.38 billion contract for seven aircraft in the second lot of low-rate initial production (LRIP-2) - awarded on 3 November - indicates that cost of the P-8A has fallen significantly.

Including a $137 million contract for advanced procurement awarded last year, the average cost of the P-8A is about $202 million in LRIP-2. The cost in LRIP-1 for six aircraft was $273 million on average.

 P-8A - US Navy

© US Navy

The USN plans to spend $32.4 billion buying 117 P-8As through 2019, with the new aircraft to enter service in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013.

Boeing has been developing the 737-based P-8A since winning the multi-mission maritime aircraft competition in June 2004.

The US Navy plans to replace the Lockheed P-3C Orion with a mixed fleet of P-8As and 70 Northrop Grumman MQ-4C unmanned aircraft systems, with the latter being purchased under the broad area maritime surveillance deal. The total programme cost to develop and build both aircraft types is $46 billion, the US Government Accountability Office said.

Meanwhile, Boeing is also developing the P-8I variant for the Indian navy, which has ordered six aircraft with a slightly different mission system package.

Source: Flight International