Boeing is close to conducting the first flight of a 737-800-based P-8I maritime patrol aircraft for the Indian navy, with its first example having emerged at the manufacturer’s Renton Field assembly site in Washington.
The aircraft has already been painted in Indian markings and assigned the registration IN320. It is the first of eight P-8Is on order as replacements for the navy’s current Tupolev Tu-142 turboprops. The aircraft was last pictured as it entered final assembly in June.
Derived from the P-8A Poseidon now in development testing for the US Navy, India’s next-generation maritime surveillance aircraft will enter use from early 2013.
India’s examples will differ from the USN’s aircraft through the addition of a belly-mounted radar, which once combined with other sensors will afford the aircraft a 360° surveillance capability against airborne targets.
Another key piece of equipment for the P-8I will be its Raytheon Mk54 lightweight torpedoes. New Delhi signed an $86 million deal in June for an initial 32 of the weapons.
Boeing performed the first flight of a production P-8A for the USN from Renton Field in July. India is the first and so for lone export buyer for the 737 derivative. Test and acceptance activities will be performed from Boeing’s Seattle Field site in Washington.