More P-8 Poseidon Goodness!

The 3rd airframe in the program, numbered T-3 recently completed it’s first airborne systems test. This aircraft will serve as the weapons and sensor systems test bed, and will be leaving soon for NAS Pax River to join it’s two sisters.

Boeing has the story in this press release.

SEATTLE, Aug. 2, 2010 — Boeing [NYSE: BA] P-8A Poseidon aircraft T3 successfully completed its first flight test in Seattle on July 29. T3 is the P-8A program’s mission-system and weapon-certification aircraft.

During the two-hour and 48-minute flight from Boeing Field, Boeing and U.S. Navy test pilots performed airborne systems checks including engine accelerations and decelerations, autopilot flight modes, and auxiliary power unit and engine shutdowns and starts.

In the coming weeks, T3 will join the two P-8A test aircraft currently at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and complete additional ground and flight tests.

“At Pax River, the Boeing and Navy team will use some of the ground test data we’ve gathered in Seattle for in-flight separation and delivery accuracy tests that will occur later this year,” said Chris Ahsmann, P-8A chief engineer for Boeing.

T3 is one of six flight-test aircraft that are being assembled and tested as part of the U.S. Navy System Development and Demonstration contract Boeing received in 2004. Airworthiness-test aircraft T1 entered flight test in October 2009 and arrived at the Navy’s Patuxent River facility in April of this year. T2, the primary mission-system test aircraft, arrived at Pax River in June.

The Navy plans to purchase 117 P-8A anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to replace its P-3 fleet. Initial operational capability is planned for 2013.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world’s largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.

# # #


Chick Ramey
The Boeing Company
Office: 253-657-5636
Mobile: 206-851-4147

Doug Abbotts
U.S. Navy
Office: 301-342-7366

I am a P-3 guy, and will always be. I think that it was criminal to not reopen the P-3 line and go with a proven and capable airframe, rather than the P-8 system, and it’s shortcomings. Having said that, what I believe doesn’t count for beans. Now that we are stuck with the P-8, I wish it every success, because we are going to need it in the near future.

P8-A T3 Take off BFI Seattle. Image courtesy Boeing. Photo credit: Boeing photo Neg. #: P65003-03


22 Responses to “More P-8 Poseidon Goodness!”

  1. 1 Scooter Pie, AW1
    August 16, 2010 at 18:31

    I too hope the best for the P-8 and all its crew members. Hope (fat chance) they keep some P-3’s on standby instead of just moth balling them. After seeing info and video on the P-8, the current lack of AW ASW training and experience, and the lack of concern by upper echelon concerning enemy submarines, we are in deep trouble. If I had the money, I would buy as many P-3’s as possible and have them crew ready so when the going gets tough, we would ride in like the calvary.

  2. 2 Randy Beck
    August 16, 2010 at 19:00

    It could be worse. (Don’t forget who’s running things nowadays.)

    It won’t be long before they decide part of its mission can be replaced with drones.

    They’ll keep a few P-3s around if they’re smart.

  3. 3 J.M. Heinrichs
    August 17, 2010 at 05:54

    More fun than a P-3, n’est-ce pas:


  4. 4 ewok40k
    August 17, 2010 at 06:00

    you go to the war with the aircraft you have…
    good hunting to the Poseidon!

  5. 5 Quartermaster
    August 18, 2010 at 00:05

    There are good reasons to build an ASW aircraft on a 737 airframe, as opposed to keeping the Lockheed Electra. There are a bunch of 737 airframes in service in the civilian world, and the issue of spares is pretty high on the list.

    I would be interested in a comparison of operating costs between the P-3 vs P-8. Endurance is probably not an issue as the operator’s endurance is the real endurance of the system, and I imagine the AC have about the same endurance for the hardware.

    • August 18, 2010 at 02:20

      Well, it isn’t an Electra, although that was what it was designed from. The thing is, that the US Navy had the opportunity to go with new builds of the Orion, and re-winging older models, a sort of SLEP as it were, and instead, chose to terminate it’s contract with LockMart.

      Lockheed continued with new builds for Japan and other countries, as well as rewinging older models for foreign operators.

      IMHO, it would have been much better to continue with new-build Orions and updating the weapon and sensor series as the whole platform evolved.

      The 737-based P-8 has significant issues to overcome to match the Orion’s performance. Because it cannot operate at the low altitudes P-3’s do, the MAD system was stripped from the plane. In addition, an entirely new pressurized sonobuoy dispenser system had to be developed to cope with both the higher speeds and higher altitudes, and the buoys themselves have to have a new speed retarding system to keep from fragmenting on impact from the altitudes they are now to be dropped from.

      The same goes for torpedoes, mines, etc.

      The P-3 has a significant onstation advantage over the P-8. It can not only loiter at a lower altitude, but can shut down an outboard engine to increase fuel efficiency. Speaking of engines, the P-3 uses a constant speed engine with variable pitch propellers that allow for not only excellent fuel efficiency and lower maintenance costs and times, but also has instant acceleration because when the power levers are pushed forward, they bite deeply into the air and you go. Not so with a jet that has to spool up. Jet lag isn’t just about time zones.

      All in all, the Navy went for the P-8 for one reason only: It wants an all-jet fleet. No other excuse stands the smell test.


      • 7 Randy Beck
        August 20, 2010 at 19:27

        FWIW: According to Wikipedia and its source:

        MAD was removed to conserve weight. Interestingly, the version made for the Indian Navy will keep the MAD system.

      • 8 Quartermaster
        August 23, 2010 at 00:24

        I agree with the assertion that the P-3 is not the Electra, and would add that the P-8 is not the 737 either. Mods had to be made to the Electra to produce the P-3, but the airframe is essentially the Electra.

        You clearly know some things I don’t about what is going on in the P-3 world. If Lockheed is re-winging P-3s for others, there is no reason we could not SLEP the P-3. The wings are also one of the more time consuming parts of an airframe to build. The rest could be built fairly quickly by comparison. The result is, if you are building wings, new fuselages are fairly simple and quick to build, and there is no reason not build new airframes.

        Also, there is no reason the 737 could not operate at the low altitudes the P-3 could. The British Nimrod did, and I encountered them several times in the Med. But, the turboprop is still the more efficient system, and I think, the more flexible system as well. The pure jet will have shorter legs at low altitudes compared to turboprops.

        Stripping the MAD gear out of the P-8 is short sighted, to be charitable. Like ships, the Navy seems to be having serious problems in aviation as well. The Navy is increasingly screwing themselves and the country.

    August 19, 2010 at 20:20

    Well, jets are so much cooler than turboprops. I worry about the radius for error with a torpedo being dropped from 30,000 feet, rather than 2000. That is a long drop, and a sub will move a lot farther than the torpedo dropped from the Orion. Perhaps beyond capture range. I have my doubts about this.

    We still don’t have anything that can outbomb an A-6, or even an A-7, nor do we have anything that can out Hawkeye a Hawkeye, and still fly off carrier. Sometimes the best answer already exists, and just deeds to be replaced with a new duplicate, when physically worn out. Will the C-130 ever be replaced? They are making J models brand new, even as we speak. We should have made new Orions.

  7. 10 ewok40k
    August 20, 2010 at 22:58

    there is something to it, look at the workhorse of the bomber force – the venerable B-52…
    unless something really revolutionary in the airframe design happens, expect more of the same like in rifle tech – M-16 and AK forever?

  8. 11 J.M. Heinrichs
    August 22, 2010 at 03:58

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadair_CP-107_Argus

    2. http://canadairargus.blogspot.com/

    Buddy of mine was involved in a 31 hr patrol off Vancouver Island; they ran out of engine oil before fuel.


    • August 22, 2010 at 23:38

      You know, that doesn’t surprise me at all. We used to have the Argus’ fly into NAS Brunswick on a fairly regular basis, and I had the privilege, more than once, of briefing their crews at the ASWOC located there.

      I have always loved the sound of those radial piston engines, and even today, like the P-3’s turboprops, would likely recognize them by their sound if they flew overhead, or in the distance.

      31 hours… imagine that! 14.2 hours was the longest I was ever involved with, and I believe we were coming in on our reserve after being ordered to remain onstation until out (delayed) relief arrived.

  9. 13 xbradtc
    August 22, 2010 at 22:57

    Tim, didn’t I send you a P-8 pic? I’m guessing it was T-3 I saw on the ramp.

  10. 15 cinderblock665_1
    August 26, 2010 at 00:40

    I love the P-3 myself shes one hell of an old girl. That being said the P-8 sure is a smooth flying machine. It is a wierd feeling bouncing back and forth from one platform to another on a day to day basis. As salty and reliable as the P-3 is I do look forword to breaking the P-8 in.

  11. 16 cinderblock665_1
    August 26, 2010 at 00:41


  12. 17 Scooter Pie, AW1 Retired
    September 8, 2010 at 03:26

    Just to restate what you and I have said before concerning the operation of the P3 vs P8 …..I ran into an ex-P3 pilot (still a reservist) who works for Boeing at the Navy Week celebration here. When he found out I was an AW, he stated that the P-3 is nothing without the AW. Humbly, I appreciate his remarks. Now remember he works for Boeing who is developing the P-8. He said it was a mistake to replace the P-3, that the P-8 is unable to do what the P-3 does at low altitudes, and that the consensus from most is that replacing the P-3 was a huge mistake and was unfortunately decided to do so because someone above him had more clout (moneywise and politically) to get rid of the P-3.

  13. 18 Kevin
    September 9, 2010 at 15:29

    I agree that the loiter time will be significantly less than a P-3, but I agree with some folks above in my thinking that BAMS or a related drone should be handling the loitering.

    One advantage that hasn’t been discussed is that the P-8 can get to where it needs to be more quickly (over 100 kts faster than P-3).

    The loss of MAD concerns me. The new “hydro-carbon” sniffer seems like a nice compliment (not sure if it’s limited to when a diesel boat is snorkeling), but how do you find a SS that is running on batteries at 5-8 kts without some sort of MAD gear? I’m shocked that the Navy has embraced “littoral” warfare as the buzzword on so many aspects, but then they throw away the p-3 which is arguably one of the most ‘littoral’ platforms they have in favor of a shiny new jet.

    Anyone know the projected operating altitude of a P-8 on an ASW search?

  14. 20 jimbo
    January 29, 2011 at 14:27

    Carbon sniffers are O-L-D tech. P8’s can get there…whoopie…they just can’t STAY there. Spares????? sorry NOT even close to being able to share anything with the civilian conterpart…big smoke screen early on, ie, “lick and a promise” Boeing CIV and Boeing MIL don’t even begin to shake hands…you can’t take a mil-spec gen and put a non-mil spec, non salt spray ingest design in its place. Good luck to it…it’s going to need it, once the first bill shows up for the first full mission there’s going to be plenty of egg to go around for everyone involved faces.

  15. 21 NewbieAWV
    March 3, 2011 at 01:01

    Having been a tech on P-3’s for the first 9 years of my career, and now converting to the IFT world, I’m sorely going to miss the P-3. Two questions come to mind… how will the lower altitudes and salt water environments affect the operation and maintenance interval of the engines… and how will the bomb bay being in the aft of the plane affect performance and airframe stability? Huge mistake getting rid of the mighty P-3… there’s no comparison!!

  16. 22 JusCruzn
    March 31, 2011 at 16:08

    I started my aviation career in the navy at pax in 1979. Have worked both rotary wing and fixed wing. I am a licensed A&P and since the navy have worked in the following fields, defense contract, commuter regional, air freight, & major us airline. Have held positions as a mechanic, lead mechanic, inspector, foreman, and overall maintenance supervisor. I have experience on the following boeing models 727, 737, 757, & 767. The 737 airframe is the true workhorse of the short haul airline industry. Boeing designed it to be, it is ideal in the 1.5 to 2.0 hour short haul passenger transport sector. With the extended range tanks it can also fly longer. It was NEVER designed to fly at low altitude over the water, nor can it ever match the fuel efficiency of a turboprop. Take that and the time on station it will fly on maritime patrol and I just don’t see it being able to perform this mission.

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