A reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare P-8I plane from the US aerospace major Boeing's stable, meant for the Indian Navy and with all relevant military systems on board, has been flight tested by the company from its Seattle air field, it has been announced.
This is the first of the eight P-8Is that India had ordered from Boeing in January 2009 for $2.1 billion and is now considering placing a follow-on order for four more such planes.
This long-range plane, without its military systems on board but in Indian colours, had taken to flight for the first time in September 2011.
"Boeing's first P-8I aircraft for the Indian Navy began its official flight test programme July 7, taking off from Boeing Field in Seattle at 9:15 a.m. and landing three hours and 49 minutes later after demonstrating flying qualities and handling characteristics. The flight went as planned with all test objectives met," a Boeing statement said.
The Boeing-led team is on track to deliver the first aircraft to the Indian Navy in 2013, the statement said.
During the coming months, Boeing test pilots will put the P-8I, a next-generation 737-800 derivative, through its paces over a US Navy test range west of Neah Bay, Washington, and a joint US and Canadian test range in the Strait of Georgia, it said.
"Today's flight is another on-time milestone for the programme," Boeing P-8I programme manager Leland Wight said.
"We'll start out testing the P-8I's mission system, which includes its sensors and communication systems. The team then will transition to 'stores' tests during which the P-8I will carry inert weapon shapes under its wings to demonstrate that the aircraft is capable of carrying all the weapons the Indian Navy will use during regular missions," Wight said.
The stores the P-8I will carry will have the identical shape and size of real weapons, including the Harpoon anti-ship missile, depth bombs and torpedoes.
"This is an important milestone for the programme and sets the stage for operational testing and weapons certification as we move closer to P-8I aircraft joining the Indian Navy," Indian Navy's Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air) Rear Admiral DM Sudan said in the statement.
P-8I flight and weapons testing follows a similar testing for the US Navy's P-8A Poseidon. P-8I is a variant of the Poseidon.
In order to efficiently design and build the P-8I and the P-8A, the Boeing-led team is using a first-in-industry, in-line production process that draws on the company's next-generation 737 production system. Assembly is complete on the second P-8I aircraft and it will make its first flight in the coming weeks.
The P-8I features open system architecture, advanced sensor and display technologies, and a worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support equipment. P-8I aircraft are built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.