The P-8I, based on the Boeing next-generation 737 commercial airplane, is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the US Navy.
The start of assembly work follows delivery of the plane's fuselage from teammate Spirit AeroSystems. Boeing workers have begun installing systems, wires and other small parts onto the fuselage. The P-8I's engines and wings will be installed later this summer.
"The P-8I is a result of a close partnership between Boeing's commercial and defense units to deliver the latest and best maritime reconnaissance capability to the world," said Dinesh Keskar, president, Boeing India. "This agreement highlights the true commitment Boeing has toward India."
"India is our first international customer for the P-8 and we are committed to delivering this aircraft on time," said Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice president and P-8 programme manager. "The timely start of assembly and our in-line production process will allow us to meet our goal and incorporate significant efficiencies as we move forward on the programme."
Boeing was selected on the basis of a global tender by the Indian government. The $2.1 billion contract for procuring eight P-8I aircraft, with an option for four additional aircraft, was signed on Jan 1, 2009.
The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in 2013 and the remaining seven in a phased manner in three to four years after that.
The P-8I will provide the Indian Navy "with speed, reliability, persistence and room for growth to satisfy the country's maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare requirements now and into the future. The aircraft features open system architecture, advanced sensor and display technologies, and a worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support equipment", a Boeing statement said.
Boeing, the world's leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft combined, has significantly expanded its footprint in India in both civil aviation and defence.
Boeing is partnering with India's leading technology and manufacturing companies to build a supply chain out of India.
Toward this end, the company has tied up with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the supply of weapon bay doors for the P-8I, among other products for other aircraft.
This apart, Bharat Electronics Limited has delivered to Boeing a key Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) sensor for the P-8I.
Boeing also has opened a Research and Technology center in Bangalore to collaborate with India's technical talent for research in aero structures, materials and network systems.