The P8 Multimission Maritime Aircraft, based on the Boeing 737, will eventually replace the P3 Orion. Australia, Canada, Italy, and maybe India will be involved in the development.
The P-8 MMA will search for and destroy submarines, monitor sea traffic, launch missile attacks on naval or land targets as required, and possibly engage in an electronic intercept role. This will involve carrying sonobuoys, torpedoes, depth charges, Harpoon anti-shipping missiles, SLAM land attack missile, and other weapons, as well as advanced sensors, communications, and other electronics. The program goal is a modern, highly reliable airframe that will be equipped with improved maritime surveillance and attack capability, allowing a smaller force to provide worldwide responsiveness on a smaller support infrastructure.
The resulting aircraft will play a role in a number of emerging military doctrines. It will be a key component in the U.S. Navy’s Sea Power 21 Sea Shield concept by providing an anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-smuggling platform that can sweep the area, launch sensors or weapons as needed, and remain aloft for many hours. MMA will also play a key role in the U.S. Navy’s FORCEnet architecture via development of the Common Undersea Picture (CUP). As a secondary role, it will support portions of Sea Power 21’s Sea Strike doctrine through provisions of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
This looks to be a big program with big potential in many areas. The first US aircraft would begin service around 2010. MO has noted the MMA previously.
ASIDE: As an editorial comment, we at Defense Industry Daily are bit surprised to see Japan missing from the list of likely partners. Japan already flies the P-3C, has a great need for maritime surveillance aircraft, wishes to build up its aerospace capabilities, and has a far closer relationship with the U.S. than it does with any potential future competitors. Any of our readers with background information re: their absence from this list are urged to contact our defenseindustrydaily.com address “tips@”….