About the P-8A


Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon is a multi-role maritime patrol aircraft, equipped with sensors and weapons systems for anti-submarine warfare, as well as surveillance and search and rescue missions. 


 The P-8A’s comprehensive mission system features an APY-10 radar with modes for high-resolution mapping, an acoustic sensor system, including passive and multi-static sonobuoys, electro-optical/IR turret and electronic support measures (ESM).  This equipment delivers comprehensive search and tracking capability, while the aircraft’s weapons system includes torpedoes for engaging sub-surface targets. 

Inside the cockpit of the P-8A Poseidon
Pre-flight checks.


 Boeing announced the availability of its new Model 737 short/medium-range airliner in 1964.  The aircraft struggled to gain orders and Boeing launched into its development programme on little more than hope.  The first 737-100 prototype completed its maiden flight on April 9, 1967 and having solved a series of problems, Boeing managed to sell only 30 – the airlines wanted greater capacity.  The stretched 737-200 was the aircraft they needed and the 737’s success since has been astronomic.

The first major change in the line came with the CFM56 turbofan, which replaced the original Pratt & Whitney JT8D from 1984.  In response to continuous improvements in the Airbus A320, Boeing reworked the 737 again, as the 737 Next Generation (NG), with a new wing, full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) and other improvements.  Among the NG variants, Boeing selected the 737-800 as the basis of its P-8A Poseidon submission to replace the veteran Lockheed P-3 Orion in US Navy service.

A contract for P-8 development was granted in June 2004 and first flight followed on April 25, 2009.  The US Navy announced initial operating capability on November 29, 2013 and the P-8 is now been widely delivered not only to US units, but also to the Indian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force.

The BAE Systems Nimrod MRA.Mk 4 upgrade of existing Nimrod MR.Mk 2 airframes had been underway for some years when it was axed under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.  The MR.Mk 2 was also withdrawn, leaving the UK without effective long-range, fixed-wing maritime cover.  Project Seedcorn saw personnel posted into maritime patrol units with allied air arms, maintaining vital skills until the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review confirmed the intended purchase of nine Poseidons for the RAF.

With the P-8 squadron numbers chosen, the type will operate from RAF Lossiemouth, where infrastructure is being prepared for its arrival around 2020.  The aircraft will be equipped with US weapons, although British weapons may be integrated in future. 

Header image by Lt jg Keith Estes/US Navy


Boeing P-8A Poseidon:

  • Powerplant: two 27,000lb st (120kN) CFM International CFM56-7 turbofan engines
  • Length: 129ft 6in (39.47m)
  • Height: 42ft 1¼in (12.83m)
  • Wingspan: 123ft 7¼in (37.64m)
  • Maximum take-off weight: 189,200lb (85,820kg)
  • Maximum speed: 490kt (907km/h)
  • Ferry range: 4,500 miles (7,242km)
  • Service ceiling: 41,000ft