If you’re a frequent flyer, then there’s a good chance you traveled in a Boeing 737 Next Generation (737NG). The narrow-body aircraft has been around since 1997, zigzagging across the world’s skies in the service of various airlines.
The Poseidon first flew for the U.S. Navy back in 2013, and since then the American fleet has been expanded to 103 such pieces of hardware that flew for a combined 300,000 hours. An additional 14 of them are serving the needs of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
The worldwide fleet of Poseidon planes is about to expand after the Navy awarded Boeing a contract this week for the creation of 11 other such aircraft, nine for its own needs and two for the RAAF. The contract is estimated at $1.6 billion.
“We continue to hear feedback from deployed Navy squadrons who tell us the P-8A is exceeding expectations,” said in a statement Stu Voboril, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s P-8A program. “Our focus is on delivering the world’s best maritime patrol aircraft. That only happens when teams truly collaborate, listen and focus on customer priorities.”
The Poseidon is largely identical with the 737NG, according to Boeing. The things that are different, though, are those that make it a formidable adversary.
The aircraft is packed with systems that allow it to perform surveillance and, if need be, search and rescue. If things heat up, the airplane can rely on an arsenal of maritime weapons and bombs. The Poseidon holds two weapons stations on each wing and can deploy 129 sonobuoys on a single outing. Unlike its civilian counterpart, it is also capable of aerial refueling.