Boeing has cut the ribbon on a new production facility in south Seattle. It's where a version of its best-selling 737 aircraft will be transformed into one of the US navy's most advanced surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.
The new P-8A Poseidon will replace the cold-war era P-3C airplanes that are used to hunt out enemy submarines in missions all over the world. The US Navy has ordered 117 of them to begin going into service in 2013. India's navy has also ordered a version of the new plane and talks are underway with several other foreign governments including Australia and Saudi Arabia.
Several hundred Boeing workers, from engineers to machinists, will work in the new building. The planes are rolled out of the 737 factory in nearby Renton, then flown to Boeing field and rolled into the P-8 hangar where high-tech surveillance systems are installed.
The company says the US contract for the first five test aircraft alone is worth nearly 4 billion dollars and supports about two thousand jobs company-wide. When production is in full swing several years from now, Boeing says it could produce as many as 24 P-8s annually.