WICHITA, Kan., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Spirit AeroSystems began production for the Royal Australian Air Force's first P-8A aircraft, a military version of Boeing's 737, hoping to deliver the parts to Boeing by early 2016.
The company's P-8A production program is using its existing Next-Generation 737 production line to design and manufacture the military specific aircraft. Spirit builds about 70 percent of the 737 aircraft. Units are then shipped to Boeing, P-8 contractor for the U.S. Navy, for final fabrication and assembly.
"Our new P-8 will be the first of a new generation of maritime surveillance for Australia. We're particularly excited and proud to get what we think is the best maritime patrol aircraft in the world coming to service in our air force," said RAAF Air Commodore Adam Brown in a statement after visiting the Spirit facility.
The P-8 Poseidon is designed for a variety of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, and maritime and littoral operations. The U.S. Navy is replacing the P-3C Orion with the P-8A Poseidon, which provides more combat capability from a smaller force and less infrastructure.
Australia has agreed to purchase eight P-8A aircraft, while the U.S. Navy is currently procuring 62 to replace it's P-3 fleet.