The US Navy has received its first Boeing P-8A Poseidon to support test and evaluation activities with the new-generation maritime patrol aircraft.

Dubbed T1, the modified 737 touched down at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland on 10 April, after a 6h 55min delivery flight from Boeing’s Seattle site. It has now been assigned to the navy’s VX-20 Air Test and Evaluation Squadron.

 P-8A Pax - Randy Hepp US Navy
© Randy Hepp/US Navy

T1’s arrival at Patuxent River follows a six-month period of flight test activity conducted from Seattle. The first of three flight test aircraft, it is being used for airworthiness and flight envelope expansion tasks.

“It was an exciting moment to watch the first P-8A Poseidon touch down at Pax River,” says Capt Mike Moran, the navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft programme manager. “This flight put us one step closer to delivering Poseidon to the fleet.” T1 had originally been expected to arrive at the test site last September.

Boeing should deliver test aircraft T2 and T3 to Patuxent River later this year. The navy says the platforms will be used to “focus on extensive mission systems and weapons system testing, ensuring the P-8A’s ability to carry out the anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.”

 P-8A P-3C Pax - Liz Goettee US Navy
© Liz Goettee/US Navy
The new P-8A will replace the navy's P-3C Orion fleet

The USN expects the P-8A to achieve initial operational capability during 2013, with the type to replace its Lockheed Martin P-3C Orions. The service will eventually field 117 Poseidons, while Boeing has already secured its first export deal for the type, with eight P-8Is under contract for the Indian navy.