US Navy P-8A Poseidon deliveries are well under way with over 100 aircraft in service to date. Whilst most of the Poseidons sport their unit markings in a clear way, others remain rather anonymous.
The P-8A on the photo, with serial BuNo 169564, seems to be a normal Poseidon. However, when having a closer look it is equipped with extra antennas at the lower fuselage. Also the serial of the aircraft is shrouded in mystery. According to the Boeing production list this serial has construction number 66096 and line number 8219. Where normally available data as first flight date, delivery date etcetera are well documented, the details of this specific airframe are not clear to us.
Comparing with the first flight dates for P-8As with BuNo 169563 and BuNo 169565, this aircraft should have flown for the first time somewhere in October 2020. However, it has never been noted at Boeing's facility at Renton (WA) and the first sighting of a P-8A with this serial in the Scramble Magazine database is August 2020 at NAS Jacksonville (FL).
Due to the unclarity on this airframe Scramble Magazine assesses that the P-8A is operated by Patrol Squadron Special Projects Unit (VPU) 2 Wizards based at NAS Jacksonville (FL). Is the US Navy trying to fool the spotter's community and the rest of the world about the true identity of the aircraft?
Update from one of our readers: BuNo 169564 is not active at all. The frame doesn't even exist. The one photographed at Oceana is an existing P-8 that has been modified to Special Projects for VPU-2. I have a strong suspicion it is ex BuNo 168854 and would even go so far as to bet money on it. Construction number 66096/8219 was still sitting in Spirit's yard as just a bare barrel in early March 2021. The reasons are unclear but there's been some unsubstantiated rumours.