Boeing’s newest war plane, a modified version of its popular 737 airliner, made its formal debut in Renton today.
The plane, a militarized version of the 737-800 airliner that equips many airline fleets, is designed for maritime patrol and surveillance.
The plane, the P-8A Poseidon, can even deploy weaponry from its retrofitted bomb bay to destroy enemy submarines at sea.
The plane, built on a special assembly line at Renton, will replace another aircraft that began its life as an airliner but which was converted to a patrol aircraft for the Navy.
That aircraft, the P-3C Orion, is the former Lockheed Electra, a four-engine aircraft equipped with Allison turbo-prop engines. The Electra had a relatively brief career in the airline business in the late ’50s and ’60s, but was quickly replaced by faster jets.
The P-3C, however, enjoyed a career of more than 40 years as the Navy’s front line patrol aircraft.
The P-8A will have greater payload, quicker deployment to patrol areas and higher technology detection equipment.
The Navy plans to buy 117 P-8As. Other nations including India and Australia are expected to buy the P-8A for their marine patrol needs.