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Whidbey’s patrol craft pays a visit
The Navy’s newest land-based, long-range, antisubmarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft, the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, came to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station June 16 to conduct training and evaluation on new and extensively upgraded capabilities from the older aircraft, the P-3C Orion.
The P-8A is the replacement for what a Navy news release describes as “the aging, yet still capable, P-3C.”
During its week-long stay at NAS Whidbey Island the P-8A conducted ASW training and also worked with the EA-18G Growlers to evaluate onboard sensors. The detachment aircrew even hosted a static display for those interested in getting a look inside the new high-tech aircraft.
The Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Fla. based VP-16 is the first operational land-based ASW squadron to transition from the P-3C to the newer and much more modern P-8A.
“It was relatively easy for us in the back of the plane, as the changes are just software for the most part,” said Lt. Ryan Burke, P-8A tactical coordinator, mission commander and detachment officer-in-charge. “The pilots had the most difficulty due to having to learn a completely new type mission set to include jet propulsion over turbo-prop engines, more electronics in the flight station and the removal of the flight engineer.”
Maintenance personnel also found themselves adjusting to the new aircraft somewhat easier than expected.
“My instructors told me to forget everything I learned about the P-3,” said AT2 Brown of VP-16. “While a few parts are quite similar to the P-3, that’s where they end. It’s a completely new aircraft from nose to tail with new systems and complex ways of tying everything together and we’re learning more every single day.”