Boeing will soon conduct the first flight of a 737-800-based P-8I maritime patrol aircraft intended for the Indian Navy (IN), with the first unit emerging from the manufacturer's Renton Field assembly site in Washington.
Photographed at the facility early this month by a private aerospace enthusiast, (Image: Brandon Farris), the aircraft has emerged painted in Indian markings and assigned the registration IN320.
It is the first of eight IN P-8Is on order. The Boeing fleet will replace the Indian Navy's current Tupolev Tu-142 turboprops.
Derived from the P-8A Poseidon, now in development testing for the US Navy, India's next-generation maritime surveillance aircraft is scheduled to enter operational service sometime early 2013.
The Indian derivative will differ from the USN version primarily through the addition of a belly-mounted radar, which, combined with other sensors, will provide a 360° surveillance capability against airborne targets.
Also on order of the P-8I are 32 Raytheon Mk54 lightweight torpedoes worth $86 million.
The first USN P-8A flew from the Renton Field in July.
India is not only the first, but so far, the only foreign buyer for the 737 derivative.