The Navy’s newest, most advanced maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, arrived in Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan for its inaugural deployment Dec. 1.
The War Eagles of Patrol Squadron 16 (VP 16) deployed with six P-8As Poseidons in support of 7th Fleet maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The deployment marks a milestone in the transition of U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Forces. For the first time since the Navy received the P-3A Orion in 1962 a new aircraft will be operated by a deployed patrol squadron.
The P-8A Poseidon is the most advanced, long-range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft in the world. A true multi-mission aircraft, it also provides superior maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. The Poseidon is built on the proven Boeing 737 airframe, the most commercially operated aircraft in the world. The transition to the Poseidon brings with it enhanced safety and reduced maintenance.
Based in Jacksonville, Fla., VP-16 began the transition to become the first P-8A squadron 18 months ago, shortly after returning home from a six-month deployment to Kadena Air Base. The War Eagles achieved U.S. Navy safe for flight status in January 2013 and were certified ready for deployment in November 2013.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what the War Eagles have been able to accomplish during the squadron’s transition to the P-8A,” said Commander Bill Pennington, VP-16′s Commanding Officer. “We are well trained and well prepared for this deployment, and excited about the opportunity to demonstrate the Poseidon’s exceptional capabilities.”
The deployment of the P-8A Poseidons to Japan is part of a phased replacement of the propeller driven P-3C Orion now serving in U.S. 7th Fleet operating area. Deploying alongside VP-16 will be the VP-46 Grey Knights from Whidbey Island, Wash., who will operate the venerable Orion.
“In December, we will demonstrate the ability of the Poseidon to operate effectively alongside P-3C during high-tempo deployed operations,” said Capt. Mike Parker, Commander of Task Force 72. “I also look forward to P-8A integrating seamlessly with our international partners and allies. Our interoperability will only get better with Poseidon,’ added Parker.