Whidbey-bound Poseidon takes flight

The P-8A Poseidon in mid-flight during the plane’s inaugural test-run Saturday. - photo courtesy of Boeing Company
The P-8A Poseidon in mid-flight during the plane’s inaugural test-run Saturday.
— image credit: photo courtesy of Boeing Company

A “weaponized” Boeing 737 took flight in Renton Saturday.

The plane, a P-8A Poseidon test aircraft T-1, described as a “long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations,” flew from Renton Field to Boeing Field in Seattle, Bob Feldman, the Boeing vice president in charge of the military side of the Poseidon program, said.

Feldman described the P-8A as a militarized version of the 737.

“We completely redesigned the airplane to meet the military mission,” he said. “Seventy-five percent of the structure is different.”

The aircraft and crew reached 25,000 feet during its inaugural test flight of three hours and 31 minutes, and successfully completed airborne systems checks, according to a Boeing press release.

“This is a significant accomplishment for the P-8A team, as it moves us one step closer to delivering the next maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft to the warfighter,” said Capt. Mike Moran, P-8A program manager for the United States Navy. “I commend Boeing for putting its ‘A-Team’ in place on this program.”

Formal flight testing of the P-8A is expected to start within the next several months. The Navy plans to purchase 108 P-8A aircraft to replace its fleet of P-3C planes by 2013, according to Boeing officials. Many of the Poseidons will be based at Whidbey Island Naval Air station.

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