SEATTLE—Boeing [BA] is close to announcing a partnership with other firms to offer a medium-sized maritime surveillance aircraft to the global market in part by leveraging systems it is already supplying to the U.S Navy, company executives said recently.
Doug Ilgenfritz, the program manager for Boeing’s Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA), told reporters the idea involves using a commercially available business jet and loading it up with intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) systems, some of which are being installed on the Navy’s next generation of maritime patrol aircraft–the P-8 Poseidon.
Boeing is looking to market the MSA to countries without a budget to afford P-8s or a comparable platform, Ilgenfritz said. Using an existing jet and ISR systems, Boeing can offer a cost effective solution for nations interested in boosting their maritime surveillance capabilities, he said.
Ilgenfritz said the company has already selected a jet from one of its partners, but would not disclose either pending a final agreement between Boeing and four to five other prime partners. Ilgenfritz said he expects the company to announce those details by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Boeing executives also believe the international market holds promise for the P-8, which is designed for ISR and anti-submarine warfare and is to replace the legacy Lockheed Martin [LMT]-built fleet of P-3 Orions.
Boeing vice president for surveillance and engagement Tim Peters said numerous countries in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region have expressed interest in the P-8s.
The Navy plans to buy 117 Poseidons and Boeing earlier this year delivered the first of the aircraft built in low-rate initial production. Initial operational capability for the P-8s is slated for next year.
Chuck Dabundo, Boeing’s vice president and P-8 program manager, said the company estimates the international market holds the prospect of 75 to 100 sales of the aircraft.