ST. LOUIS, Feb. 23, 2006 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] this month successfully completed P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) weapons separation wind tunnel tests at the Arnold Air Force Base Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, Tenn.
The tests validated Boeing predictions that the U.S. Navy-required P-8A weapons, which include torpedoes, missiles and naval mines, will safely separate from the aircraft when launched during flight.
"This major milestone moves us significantly closer to the start of flight-testing for weapons separation and also validates the aircraft's design," said Jack Zerr, Boeing vice president and P-8A program manager. "The team performed the tests in half the expected time, which further demonstrates our commitment to keeping the P-8A program on schedule and on budget."
During three weeks and approximately 220 hours of testing Boeing engineers, monitored by Navy personnel, placed weapons on a moveable mount near a 6.2 percent scale P-8A model. As the weapons were moved away from the aircraft at various airspeeds and locations, aerodynamic forces were measured to gauge the effect.
"The Navy is extremely happy about the positive correlation between our predictions and the test data," said Neal Mosbarger, Boeing P-8A Flight Technology manager. "As a result, we likely will be able to reduce the P-8A's flight test hours when we get to that phase of the program."
All P-8A aerodynamic wind tunnel testing is now complete, just 20 months after authorization to proceed with the System Development and Demonstration phase of the program. Overall, Boeing has completed more than 3,100 hours of P-8A wind tunnel testing.
Boeing will continue to analyze the wind tunnel data, which will be used to support the program's Critical Design Review, slated for early 2007.
The P-8A, a 737-800 aircraft, is the Navy's replacement platform for the P-3C. Its primary mission is to provide persistent anti-submarine warfare. In addition, the P-8A MMA will contribute to anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance warfighting capabilities, as defined in the Sea Shield and FORCEnet elements of the Navy's Sea Power 21 program.
The Boeing-led team, which includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman [NYSE: NOC], Raytheon [NYSE: RTN] and Smiths Aerospace [LSE: SMIN.L], will produce five test aircraft during the program's System Development and Demonstration phase. The Navy plans to purchase up to 108 aircraft to replace its aging fleet of P-3 aircraft.
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