The P-8 was developed to replace its predecessor, the Lockheed P-3 Orion, a turboprop Anti-submarine warfare aircraft
P-8 Poseidon is the latest US submarine hunting aircraft and is considered by the military experts to be the world’s strongest. With a high combat capacity coming from huge arsenal, modern reconnaissance electronic systems and long-lasting aerial operation. The P-8 is a nightmare for every submarine.
The P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol plane may not be as sexy as an F-35 stealth fighter, but in some ways it is far closer to the forefront of international flashpoints in the Pacific Ocean. The P-8 Poseidon, developed by Boeing, is designed to conduct anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and shipping interdiction, along with an electronic signals intelligence role.
The Poseidon is equipped with such sensitive radars and sensors that it’s able to scan for submarines underwater and even small vessels on the surface of the ocean, all while cruising at high altitude. A single new P-8 Poseidon can cover more than double the search area as its predecessor, the P-3 Orion. It is designed to operate in conjunction with the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle.
The P-8 was developed to replace its predecessor, the Lockheed P-3 Orion, a turboprop Anti-submarine warfare aircraft, has been in service with the United States Navy since 1962. The history of the Poseidon dates back to June 2004, when the US Navy announced the selection of the Boeing multimission maritime aircraft, and awarded a contract to Boeing for the system development and demonstration phase of the programme for the US Navy’s next-generation maritime surveillance aircraft. The aircraft was given the designation P-8A in March 2005.
Development proceeded relatively smoothly, in part due to the use of a preexisting airframe and the decision to phase in the P-8’s advanced systems in a series of increments rather than delivering them all at once. The estimated cost for each P-8 is $150 million. In 2011 the US Navy awarded a contract for six initial production P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The first operational aircraft was delivered in 2012. The US Navy plans to purchase a total of 117 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to replace the previous Lockheed P-3 Orion fleet, that are approaching the end of their operational life. Australia, England and India also ordered this new aircraft.
The P-8 is based on the 737-800 short-to-medium-range airliner. Its nine-person crew includes a dual-pilot cockpit and five mission crew. The P-8 has workstations with universal multi-function displays, and ready accommodation for additional workstations and workload sharing.
The Poseidon reportedly offers a much smoother ride than the Orion, thanks to its broader-swept wings of the 737-800 and flight computers. Orion crews were often nauseated by the strong turbulence their low-altitude flight operations required.
The internal weapons bay is installed beneath the forward section of the fuselage. The Poseidon is armed with an internal five-station weapons bay, four wing pylons, two centerline pylons, all supported by digital stores management allowing for carriage of joint missiles, torpedoes and mines.
The aircraft has two CFM International CFM56-7B27A high-bypass turbofan engines, each rated at 121 kN (27,300lb). A Poseidon can loiter overhead at speeds as low as 200 miles per hour, and can stay on station for extended times due to its in-flight refueling capability. However, with a maximum speed of 564 miles per hour, it can also dash two hundred miles per hour faster than the P-3 aircraft it is replacing.
The Poseidon’s primary payload is its diverse array of sensors. Aircraft will have electro-optical and infrared sensor turret, maritime surveillance radar, signal intelligence system. Its radar is capable of detection, classification and identification of ships, small vessels and surfaced submarines. It also has costal surveillance capability.
The P-8A will be also fitted with advanced magnetic anomaly detection system for submarine tracking. The Poseidon can be used for search and rescue operations.
In the event of hostilities, the Poseidon can carry five missiles, depth charges or torpedoes in a rotary launcher in the rear hull, and six more on underwing racks. While the P-3 had to fly low to deploy its torpedoes, the P-8 can use a special High Altitude Air Launch Accessory to transform its Mark 54 324-millimeter lightweight torpedoes into GPS-guided glide bombs that can be dropped from altitudes as high as thirty thousand feet. Poseidons can also carry Harpoon AGM-184 antiship missiles with a range of 150 miles.
Some argue that the Poseidon could be turned into a sort of cut-rate B-52 bomber by fitting it with a variety of guided weapons, such as the AGM-158 long-range antiradar missile, the LR-ASM antiship missile or Small Diameter Bombs for precision ground attacks. Whether the Navy will choose to lean on the Poseidon’s multirole capabilities, or keep it focused on the antiship and surface ship mission, remains to be seen.
The P-8 is operated by the U.S. Navy, the Indian Navy as the P-8I Neptune, and the Royal Australian Air Force. The aircraft has been ordered by the Royal Air Force where it will be known as the Poseidon MRA1, the Royal Norwegian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Republic of Korea Navy.
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