recommended reading

System bugs in Navy’s $34 billion P-8 aircraft degrade performance

United States Navy

The Navy’s new P-8 anti-submarine warfare and maritime surveillance  aircraft under development suffers from a variety of radar and communications systems problems that could seriously degrade operational effectiveness, the Pentagon’s operational test organization reported to Congress yesterday.

Developmental test results revealed that the P-8 has image quality problems with its synthetic aperture radar used to track surface targets. Also, its electronic warfare system does not reliably collect and identify signals from hostile radars, the report said.

The P-8’s common data link has deficiencies that prevent reliable transmission of radar and infrared imagery intelligence to operational users. Additionally, ineffective voice satellite communications systems “prevent transmission and receipt of mission critical information,” the report said.

Boeing has a contract to develop the P-8 based on its commercial 737 twin-jet aircraft. The Navy plans to buy 122 of them at an estimated cost of $34 billion.

The Navy plans to use a tracking system on the aircraft to search for and locate enemy submarines. The system, known as the Multi-static Active Coherent System, is under development by Lockheed Martin Corp. But the service has deferred its installation until at least 2014 due to problems identified in tests, the report said.

The P-8 drops sonobuoys on the surface of the ocean to locate submarines by listening for acoustic signatures. Information collected by the buoys is then transmitted to the aircraft. A separate section of the test report revealed that onboard software designed to determine the geographic position of the buoys could not accurately do so, the report disclosed.

The test report also revealed that a drone system designed to work in conjunction with the P-8, the Northrop Grumman MQ 4-C, experienced stability problems with its flight control software, which caused a “significant test schedule delay” from May 2012 to at least this month. The Navy plans to buy 65 MQ-4Cs equipped with radar and electro-optical systems to track maritime targets at a cost of $9 billion.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.