Is Boeing Proposing a P-8-Lite?

So Boeing says its considering shrinking the P-8 Poseidon submarine hunter into a smaller airplane to replace P-3 Orion fleets around the world, according to a Defense News article from the Singapore Air Show.

My question is, what aircraft does Boeing have in mind? I mean, the company has spent a ton of time over the last couple of years pitching the 737-based P-8 as an ideal long range ISR platform for a ton of missions beyond sub hunting; almost a manned-UAV. But that aircraft sounds like it might be too big for the mission, based on what Boeing tells DN. Company officials say that Poseidon-lite, if you will, doesn’t need to have the torpedoes and other antisubmarine gear that the P-8 carries. Instead, the plane simply needs ISR gear. Wait, that sounds like a UAV, more specifically, like Northrop Grumman’s BAMS.

So what does Boeing have that’s smaller than a 737 (not including fighters)?

The V-22 Osprey? Perhaps, but that feels like a stretch. I’d guess the company is hoping to use someone else’s airplane and charge the government to “integrate” the ISR systems aboard the jet, kind of the way that Northrop Grumman does with Boeing-made 707s that serve as the E-8 JSTARS.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“We are looking hard at either a mid-sized platform or scaling down the P-8, and hopefully we will make a decision [whether to proceed] later this year,” said Jeff Kohler, vice president of Boeing Military Aircraft, ahead of the Singapore Airshow opening Feb. 14.

The Boeing executive said his company is in discussions with two or three potential platform providers in the regional jet size market.

Boeing is currently developing the 737-based P-8 for the U.S. Navy and export customer India but said a smaller offering would better suit nations that do not require all the capabilities Poseidon will have to offer when it enters service in 2013.

“P-8 has tremendous capabilities, but not every country has requirements for anti-submarine warfare or torpedoes,” Kohler said. “They need ISR. The entire mission system is a Boeing product … The U.S. Navy is working with us to improve essentially something you can scale into different size aircraft.”

35 Comments on "Is Boeing Proposing a P-8-Lite?"

  1. What savings will they realize? If all it can do is spot, do you just wait for backup to arrive?

  2. Maybe a Mini P-8 can be made out of a Boeing 737. It is possible that a Boeing 737 can be modified to do the work of a P-3, P-8. You do have Pilots who can fly it and you do have users who would like to have a compact P-8 made out of a Boeing 737.

  3. Always wondered why you couldnt use a C-130J.

  4. He, he, he……

    The C-27J?

  5. A V-22 would be counter productive since it be a P-3 turboprop essentially. Though I doubt the P-3 wont be gone soon since the P-8 is slowly coming into service. the 737 is a excellent platform to use Ive flown in them and they are nice plane to use. A MD-80 would be the only smaller alternative.

  6. The P-8 is based on Boeing's 737-800NG platform if i'm not mistaken. A smaller, lighter version would simply mean transferring all the tech to the 737-700NG platform which is the basis of the 737 AWACS frames sold to Australia, South Korea and Turkey. This would make sense of the comment about not needing a bomb bay, as the 737-700's shorter air frame couldn't accommodate one.

  7. So wait, let me see if I can understand this…..The P-3 has for generations been the backbone of USN long-range ASW and anti-surface patrol and interdiction. The ability to carry weapons on-board means it can prosecute the contacts it has made, and not wait for who knows how long for an armed aircraft/ship/sub to arrive.

    So the P-3 replacement now proposed is… unarmed recon plane??? Yeah…can see that in a shooting war "have made contact with an Akula….anyone there? Ooops…now he's gone"

  8. I think they probably would be looking at Canadair or Embraer model regional jets.

  9. Something like the Embraer R-99?

  10. Long-range large cabin business jets would be the most likely option. The EMB-170/175/190/195 family would also work, but I could see Boeing wanting to avoid giving Embraer or Bombardier the work since the are somewhat of competiton in the Commercial airplane market and Dassault would probably be avoided since they are owned in part by EADS, so I'd be looking at a Gulfstream then as the most likely candidate. Basically we're talking about a P-8 lite, but something a good bit higher end than all the ISR stuff being put on King Airs and the like now.

  11. What about 717/MD-95? It's out of production now, but since cost is apparently the issue, it might be cheaper in the long run to buy used airframes for conversion. Boeing would love that since it's keeping the airframe in-house.

  12. What I was thinking was the original 737 that was built and currently flown by Southwest Airlines.

  13. I think this is a sales trial balloon. Overseas users of the P-3 have no desire to buy the P8.

  14. Cost too much money….

    And Countries aren't in a hurry to buy American anymore…..
    Look at the airlines…..

  15. Johnny Appleseed | February 15, 2012 at 11:10 am | Reply

    I think the biggest issue is that you can't land a modified 737 on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

  16. There are numerous older 300,400, 500 and 600 series Boeing 737's out there that are no longer profitable for airline operations. Given the P-8 is set in a highky modified 737-800, it would be realtively easy to install variants of it's advanced mission systems and avionics into completely refurbished older 737 airframes.

  17. This is part of the coming wave of outsourcing.

    Boeing needs to make more money from a shrinking pie and the way to do it is shed US jobs. Build the Aircraft cheaper off-shore and install some equipment then charge the government about the same price.

  18. How about the Lockheed S-3 Viking? Good range, endurance, payload, sensors and can take off from aircraft carriers. Oh, wait …

  19. Good Morning Folks,

    Looks like Boeing got caught with to low of a bid and now wants to change the product. Well why not just cancel the whole bid and go with the Avenger. The Avenger (Predator C) at $12-15 million per airframe vs. the P-8 at $1.6 billion for six airframes appears to be in the $200-300 million each price range would seem to be a far better deal. The Avenger also has the advantage of also be a carrier aircraft. This should be a no brainer switch.

    Byron Skinner

  20. Aviation Week is reporting that "Lockheed Martin has turned the P-3’s mission systems into a roll-on, roll-off solution that can be installed into C-130s. The C-130 roll-on, roll-off mission system for maritime surveillance has been around for some years already. But Lockheed Martin how now developed a roll-on, roll-off solution that allows one to effectively install the P-3’s anti-submarine warfare mission system and other equipment, such as sonar buoys, onto the C-130." They're calling it the SC-130J Sea Hercules.

  21. When i said use the C-130J i ment use it like the old P-3. Could you build something like Harvest hawk but for the Maritime role. Plug and play. This would allow more flexability and cheaper over all operating cost outside of the already large cut you get from operating a turboprop as oppossed to a jet turbine.

    Cost savings come in fuel and maintanence time and cost.

    How about also using the C-3/E-2 hawkeye frame? Could build a plug in system for it and also build a plug in system to let it refuel F-18's so you dont have 2 F-18's trying to refuel 3 other f-18 all of which have shitty range….

  22. I'd love to see Boeing go all-out with a contract to replace as many of our tankers and noncombat aircraft with a 737 as possible. JSTARS, tankers…alternatively, Lockmart could try the same with the C-130. It'd be the contract of the century. Think of the gravy!

  23. What happened to the old viking airframes? Davis-Monthan?

  24. Buy back all the 717's from Airtran now that they are Fully owned by Southwest and will most likely move the relatively young ( by airline standards) 717-to SW 737-800/MAX/ etc.

  25. The C-130 would work well. Navy Coastal Warfare loaded a Radar/Sonar Surveillance Center (RSSC) van into a USMC C-130 at MCAS El Toro in the 80s. The RSSC functioned with all the detection and tracking capabilities of the P-3. We tied the radar into the A/C radar and trailed the sonar antenna out the back. Sonobouys were implaced by just tossing them out the rear. The draw back was that we had to also load a generator because the C-130 couldn't supply power. Noisey as hell.

  26. Once we plug-and-playitize our equipment, the platform won't be such a pivotal part of the buy. or at least, there will be less impediments to upgrading platforms, so we won't cheapen out with used leftovers from the commercial sector.

  27. So in addition to the -NG there is also the 737 MAX possibly in the pipe?

    Darn you Boeing for having a smorgasbord of 737s in the works.

  28. I guess they're looking for Embraer and it's new coming KC-390, that'd be perfect to the task…

  29. The xx33 has been changed around so it can still be in option since it has been fully remodelled.

  30. One good drone to lead companie is more then we need.Remember every plane more with or without pilot is squal to 12 troops less if not more!!

  31. I would guess a 717 conversion from the Southwest-Airtran merger (though airframes are limited), a Gulfstream G550, or as was poked at before, the C-27J. Then again, LM recently proposed a C-130 fitted out with ro-ro MP/ASW gear in two specs: one with expendable stores (P-8 kit) and an ISR-only version. Boeing could still make/integrate the mission systems. No word on cost.

  32. The key to this article is smaller airframe with less robust capabilities! C-130 does not give you a smaller airframe, C-130 is the same size as the P-8 with no weapons options! Why would you want the same size airframe with fewer capabilities? And to bring the C-130 to the capabilities of the P-8 you would have to heavily modify the C-130 which equals more money. Plus the roll-on and roll-off is not an advantage of the C-130, because the P-8 has the same ability

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