Boeing to develop mini Poseidon spy plane

Boeing to develop mini Poseidon spy plane

FARNBOROUGH, England — Boeing builds planes. That’s what they do. So when the company announced Tuesday they plan to develop a medium sized Maritime Security Aircraft, it came as quite a surprise when Boeing officials said the spy plane would be “platform agnostic.”

The aerospace giant based out of Seattle, Wash., already builds the U.S. Air Force’s E-3 Sentry outfitted with the airborne early warning and control system. And the U.S. Navy is set to buy 13 P-8 Poseidon anti-sub spy planes with an initial operation capability date set for 2013.

Boeing executives see a need for maritime security aircraft in the international market, but built on a smaller, more affordable platform. The aircraft will be built to combat piracy, provide coastal and border security, enforce economic exclusion zones and  patrol for illegal immigrants. Fred Smith, Boeing’s director of Navy and Marine Corps business development for Surveillance and Engagement, said he expects a $10 billion market for maritime surveillance aircraft over the next ten years.

Engineers with Boeing will take systems and capabilities from the P-8 and install them onto a mid size business aircraft, said Egan Greenstein, a senior Boeing manager. Greenstein wouldn’t name the company Boeing is talking to or give any details on the business plane, only to say he expects the announcement to come by the end of the year.

Boeing will develop the maritime spy plane with their own money. This can be tricky, though, when a company is left to guess what requirements a customer might want, Greenstein said. He did say the company has had discussions with potential navy and air force officials of countries who might be interested in the aircraft.

Again, Greenstein wouldn’t list any potential customers, but if you read between the lines they likely are located in the Middle East or Asia. He said the U.S. would prefer to buy existing aircraft and Europe just doesn’t have any money right now.

It would be easy to call this new maritime spy plane a mini-Poseidon except it will not be a submarine hunter. Boeing figured the countries they are targeting with this plane couldn’t afford it if they installed the systems and torpedoes needed. In fact, this maritime surveillance aircraft will not carry weapons.

Boeing officials felt it would be more cost effective for the navies or air forces that buy this aircraft to send the intelligence collected by it to separate shooters like an attack helicopter. It’s hard to say if the aircraft could even fit the torpedoes needed to knock out a sub without knowing what aircraft Boeing plans to use. Eliminating the anti-submarine mission also reduces the crew requirement for this maritime security aircraft from five to three.

The surprise remains for Boeing to reach out to another company to build them an aircraft for this spy plane. Walking around Farnborough makes it clear that aerospace companies are trying to survive these lean defense budgetary times any way they can.

Developing a new mid-size aircraft might be too big a risk for Boeing to take without the guarantee of a contract at the end of development. It would also make the price tag for the maritime spy plane much more expensive. Boeing leaders said it shouldn’t be seen as a weakness for the company to look for some help.

“The Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft showcases how Boeing is meeting customers’ current and future needs by migrating advanced, mature technologies from one program into adjacent markets, even with non-Boeing platforms,” said Tim Peters, Boeing vice president and general manager, Surveillance and Engagement.



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A “mid size business aircraft”? Gulfstream?.

It will be a awesome small surveillance plane!

100+ S-3 Vikings sitting in the Boneyard–waiting for a refurb and new electronics!

Boeing has been talking to Embraer, which makes military, business and regional commercial jets. That could be the potential partner, especially if Brazil chooses the F/A-18 in its fighter competition.

Or Bombarier, or Hawker, etc etc. Platform Agnostic

I have feeling we’re going refurbing a few squadrons worth of S-3 within the next 2–5 years

A similar strat I think compared to what Israel did with G550 + early warning radar/command add-on?

I’m curious though which avionics they are referring to when saying migrating over P-8 systems?

Would that include Northrop Grumman’s ALQ-218 passive geo-locating receiver? Why wouldn’t then Northrop just propose this ‘poor-mans’ maritime patrol plane instead?? :D Just bolt-on a next-gen Litening SE pod + ALQ-218 + an off-the-shelf Northrop AESA radar… and bingo!

Hmm, or for real-cheap.… integrate Litening SE pod into the jet-powered Predator-C’s stores bay and add to the mix?

You have to have the opposing forces subs to hunt first– not in 2–5 years

Boeing is going after the India,s MRMR project.

most likely a turboprop solution here

sounds exactly like what the USAF’s Analysis of Alternatives came up with for the ground surveillance mission (aka Joint STARS replacement). This was in lieu of resininng the E-8 fleet — and AFTER spending $500Mil to develop the new engines and integrate them inot the E-8 airframe.

But alas, the Air Force had no money for the “bizjet” solution. Joint STARS will soldier on with the curent TF33’s. To be fair, that engine hase been updated and exhibits significantly improved relibility than in years past.

As an aside integrating bolt-on, off the shelf components into a host system is NEVER going to be “real-cheap”.

Yep, spelled BOEAgnosticING… These guys worked on the P-8 for years, and the next batch will have to cost less than the first, even if they make if for some prince somewhere who doesn’t reuse gold toothpicks. Only way out of that awful trap is to put an E-3 antenna on top of a P-8… or anything that uses turbojets/HBturbos, and not props. HBTurbos would rate a new expensive development cycle…

And the S-3 has half it’s service life left. Everyone wants a new commercial A/C so when they get out they can go to work for the company as a pilot or mechanic. Lockheed tried to get the Navy to do this years ago before the fleet sundowned.


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