“Exciting & Historic Community News: VP-16 Begins Transition to P-8”
Yesterday, the VP-16 "War Eagles" became the first fleet squadron in the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) to transition to the P-8A Poseidon. Based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, VP-16 will spend the next five and a half months with VP-30's P-8A Fleet Introduction Team (FIT) learning how to safely and effectively operate the P-8A Poseidon.
The Pilots, Naval Flight Officers, Acoustic Warfare Operators and Electronic Warfare Operators will conduct classroom training, simulator events and flight events totaling hundreds of hours of combined training and flight time. The maintenance professionals will receive an Interim Maintenance Teach provided by Boeing and then conduct on-the-job training while VP-30 pursues their individual squadron “Safe for Flight” qualifications.
VP-16 is scheduled to complete P-8A Fleet Introduction Training in December 2012 and then will begin Inter Deployment Readiness Cycle preparing for the first P-8A Operational Deployment in December 2013.
OK. Sounds good, right? The P-3 airframe has long exceeded its service life. But… Everything about this is strange. Six months to learn a new airplane? Has any other US combat aircraft come with a half-year initial crew qualification? The P-3 RAG was 11 weeks. How can such a long training ramp create enough crews to man the P-8 fleet before the P-3s are all retired? Speaking of P-8 fleet, what fleet? The Navy is talking about four to six P-8s a year being produced – assuming the coming military financial disembowelment doesn’t happen. That’s maybe one squadron created every 18 months (assuming squadrons again accept their own aircraft, a practiced that was stopped in the 1990s). If the military does lose $500 billion next, you can probably kiss the P-8 goodbye. A SIGINT P-8 variant? Won’t happen within the next six years. The Navy is also cutting way back on the BAMS UAV. 108 P-8s (down from 156) and 50 UAVs? I don’t see it happening. Even the Navy admitted recently it had let its ASW proficiency die. I have to suspect that we have developed some deep black other means of ASW other than aircraft and ships. Wonder what it could be.
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