March 20 (UPI) -- The Defense Department awarded a $326 million contract to Boeing Co. for upgrades to the P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft.
The contract, announced on Tuesday, calls for development, integration and testing of Increment 3 Block 2 capabilities into the planes for the U.S. Navy and Australian government. The majority of the work will be performed at Boeing's Puget Sound, Wash., facility, and is expected to be completed by March 2024.
The Increment 3 Block 2 capabilities include wide-band satellite communications, new computing and security architecture, anti-surface warfare signal intelligence, combat system architecture improvements, and communication capability upgrades, according to the Navy.
The P-8A is the Navy's next-generation maritime surveillance aircraft. Able to carry torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, it is a modification of the Boeing 737-800ERX passenger plane and is fitted for anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and shipping interdiction.
Boeing built its 100th P-8A in October 2018, but has several more on order for the United States and other nations.
In September 2018, South Korea purchased six of the aircraft, followed by a deal announced by the U.S. Navy in January for 10 of the aircraft for the United States, plus four more sold to British Royal Navy and five to the Royal Norwegian Navy.
A $428 million contract for long-lead material and activities to construct 16 more P-8A aircraft was announced at the beginning of March.
The navies of India and Australia also fly the Poseidon.