ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The Indian navy's P-8I long-range, maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft is under production.
Boeing said workers at Kansas' Spirit AeroSystems -- where all Boeing Next-Generation 737 fuselages, nacelles and pylons are designed and built -- cut the P-8I's first part, a bonded aluminum panel that will be installed on the fuselage's upper lobe to support an antenna.
The panel and other fuselage components will come together on Spirit's existing Next-Generation 737 production line.
The P-8I is based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane and is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy.
"Today marks the P-8I program's move from the design phase to the build phase," said Leland Wight, Boeing P-8I program manager said Monday. "We're on schedule and the Indian navy is looking forward to receiving its first plane."
Spirit will ship the P-8I fuselage to a Boeing Commercial Airplanes facility in Renton, Wash., in mid-2011 for final assembly. After that, Boeing Defense, Space & Security employees will install mission systems and complete testing prior to delivery to India.
Boeing will deliver the first of eight P-8I aircraft to India within 48 months of the original contract signing, which took place in January 2009. India is the first international customer for the P-8.