The U.S. Navy declared operational readiness of the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and deployed the first Poseidons to the Asia Pacific region earlier this month. The service said the deployment represents the first time since it received the P-3A Orion in 1962 that a new aircraft will be operated by a deployed maritime patrol squadron.
The Navy announced initial operational capability of the Boeing 737-800 military derivative after the first two P-8As departed Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida on November 29; they arrived at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, for the inaugural deployment on December 1.
Patrol Squadron 16 (VP-16), the “War Eagles,” will operate six P-8As in support of 7th Fleet maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations. VP-16, which is based in Jacksonville, started its transition as the first P-8A squadron 18 months ago. The Navy said the VP-5 “Mad Foxes” has completed the P-8A transition process; a third squadron, the VP-45 “Pelicans” started the transition after returning from deployment this summer.
Also, Boeing announced that it delivered the 13th production P-8A to the Navy, which arrived at NAS Jacksonville on December 4. The delivery concluded a second low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot the Navy awarded Boeing in 2011. Boeing to date has received four LRIP contracts, for a total of 37 aircraft. It is currently building Lot 3 aircraft, the first of which will be delivered in 2014. The Navy’s overall requirement is for 117 Poseidons.
The P-8A will gradually replace P-3C Orion turboprops now serving in the 7th Fleet operating area. “In December, we will demonstrate the ability of the Poseidon to operate effectively alongside the P-3C during high-tempo deployed operations,” stated Capt. Mike Parker. “I also look forward to the P-8A integrating seamlessly with our international partners and allies.”