The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is soliciting potential contractors to integrate the Boeing P-8A Poseidon with Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles, as well as several other weapons.

NAVAIR is also interested in outfitting the maritime patrol aircraft with 500lb to 2,000lb-class bombs fitted with Joint Direct Attack Munition guidance kits, Mk62/63/65 Quickstrike sea mines, Raytheon’s gliding Small Diameter Bomb, as well as Miniature Air Launched Decoys, according to a notice posted online 28 January.

Australian P-8 Posiedon with anti-ship missiles

Source: Boeing

Royal Australian Air Force P-8 Poseidon with anti-ship missiles

To support the integration of weapons, NAVAIR is also soliciting information for installing the BRU-55 bomb rack and a Universal Armament Interface on the P-8A.

“Engineering tasks for this effort includes, but are not limited to upgrades to the Boeing Tactical Open Mission Systems and Stores Management Computer software and interfaces, test planning, execution, data reduction, and reporting on flight test efforts,” says NAVAIR. “The contractor shall support the government in designing, modifying, installing, and maintaining the test aircraft and aircraft sub-system instrumentation.”

The US Navy (USN) is asking for input from defence manufacturers to decide if it should create a bidding competition for the P-8A’s weapons upgrade effort or just give the work to Boeing as a sole source award.

The USN wants the upgrades done between 2021 and 2026.

The P-8A is constructed from a 737-800 commercial airliner’s airframe with -900 wings. The militarised aircraft has few passenger windows, its aluminium is twice as thick and its floor is strengthened with stiffeners.

Because of that heft, the maritime aircraft can carry 126 sonobuoys internally, four Boeing AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles on hard points beneath its wing and Mk 54 lightweight hybrid torpedoes within an internal bomb bay.

Those sensors and weapons are frequently used for submarine hunting.

Some of the potential weapons imagined for the P-8A could likely be carried on existing wing hard points or within the internal bomb bay. Additional external capacity could come from BRU-55 bomb racks.

In addition to the USN, the P-8 is operated by India, Australia, the UK and Norway.