Boeing commences building Indian Navy’s first P-8I maritime aircraft

Boeing has commenced fabrication of the P-8I the long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft destined for the Indian Navy. India is the first international customer of this variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the U.S. Navy, which in turn is based on the popular Boeing 737 passenger aircraft.

This is part of of an eight aircraft order placed by the Indian Navy in January 2009. Earlier, in July this year, Boeing and the Indian Navy completed the final design review of the P-8I.

The P-8I’s first part, a bonded aluminium panel that later will be installed on the fuselage’s upper lobe to support an antenna, was cut at Spirit AeroSystems, where all Boeing Next-Generation 737 fuselages, nacelles and pylons are designed and built. The panel and other fuselage components will come together on Spirit’s existing 737 production line.

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, expected before January 2013.

Boeing, along with competitor Airbus, have significantly expanded their footprint in India both in the civil aviation, and Boeing is leading the charge in the defence market. Both Boeing and Airbus parent EADS are strong contenders in the Indian Air Force’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) tender.

Both companies are partnering with India companies to build a supply chain out of India, and both companies have opened R&D and engineering centres in Bangalore, long the technological and aviation capital of India.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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