Poseidon: ‘Eyes, Ears of the fleet’
01 October 2019
Knowing your adversaries plans is one of the best ways to defend yourself and defeat them. The U. S. Navy utilizes multiple assets to get ahead of its enemies at sea, on air and on land. The P-8A Poseidon aircraft is one of the most effective tools the Navy has in its arsenal.
“It's the eyes and the ears of the fleet and the fleet commanders,” said Cmdr. Gerald Smith, executive officer, Patrol Squadron Thirty (VP) 30, located in Jacksonville, Fla. “If there is any concern to the fleet commander, he is going to send out that P-8 to figure out what is going on for him and his team so they can figure out the best information possible that goes into the decision making process. Ultimately, we become part of the solution, all the way to the kill-chain with localizing, tracking, attacking and finishing [the target].”
The P-8A is a multi-mission maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft; it conducts anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and even humanitarian response
“I think the P-8A is the most relevant plane the Navy has today,” said Lt.j.g. Alex Orlando, a student pilot at VP-30. “If you turn on any 24-hour news cycle, more than likely you are going to see a P-8A plane on there...I think that in today's global environment, having a long range plane like this really gives us an advantage.”
The P-8A is still a relatively new aircraft. For decades, the U.S. Navy utilized the P-3C Orion aircraft to conduct its anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, however, the Navy is phasing out the legacy P-3Cs for the newer and more advanced P-8As. The squadron [VP 30] is making this transition; their mission is to provide specific training to pilots, naval flight officers (NFO), and enlisted aircrew prior to reporting to the fleet.
“VP 30 is important because this is where it all starts for all the fleet squadrons,” said Smith. “All operators and maintainers come through here and this is where you get your initial training before you go out to the fleet to even further refine your trade. Whether you are a pilot, a NFO or an operator aboard the aircraft, this is the first stepping stone.”
According to the article “VX 1 Flies P-8 Poseidon during RIMPAC 2012” by RIMPAC Public Affairs on Navy.mil, compared to the P-3C, the P-8A has greater payload capacity, advanced mission systems, software and communications, as well as six additional fuel tanks which allow for extended range. It also features multi-mission surface search radars, and incorporates a short bomb bay aft of the wings for torpedoes and sonobouys, which are small expendable sonar capsules that are dropped from the aircraft for anti-submarine warfare or underwater acoustic research.
“Being on the fleet replenishment side, we see that there are a lot of things that go into the air crew training, maintenance training, as well as us doing the transition so the fleet is ready to [fully] accept the P-8,” said Chief Thomas Garvey, maintenance control leading chief petty officer. “A lot of time, energy and attention to the detail go into ensuring the maritime patrol reconnaissance community is ready to go once P-8 is full blown east and west coast.”
The U.S. Navy is not the only force that flies or will fly P-8s. Many other counties have also began the transition to the P-8s. As they transition, foreign service members from across the globe come to VP 30 to learn, train and increase interoperability between United States and other counties.
“The majority of the British crews here have come from the Nimrod force, which folded about 10 years ago,” said Rob McCartney, a Royal Air Force officer. “We have had a bit of a gap and we are looking forward to getting our hands on the P-8s. There are a few people who have done exchanges on P-8s and P-3s, but the majority of us are new to the P-8s. After our training here, we head back to [Royal Air Force] Lossiemouth Scotland, which is going to be our maritime hub. We are building a huge strategic facility there that will be able to host our P-8s, U.S. P-8As and other NATO P-8s.”
To learn more about the P-8s, click here.