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Coming soon to Navy base: six P8-A squadrons

The Navy has decided to base six P8-A squadrons at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island at the close of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement this month.

The Navy weighed two alternatives during the SEIS process and chose the option to base six fleet squadrons at NAS Whidbey and six fleet squadrons plus the replacement squadron at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida.

The choice also calls for a permanent rotating squadron detachment at Hawaii Marine Corps Base, and periodic squadron detachments to Corondo Naval Base in California.

The number of squadrons here will increase from three to six and the number of total aircraft will jump from 24 P-3 aircraft to 42 P-8As once the transition is complete.

However, fewer staff members are needed to maintain the newer aircraft so personnel numbers will stay relatively static with a loss of an estimated 190 military personnel and dependents.

Heavy usage of simulators for training will decrease the number of air operations at Ault Field from roughly 14,000 to 10,000, according to EIS documents.

Michael Monson, president of Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, a group opposed to Navy jet noise, said he was glad to see the number of operations will be decreased.

The transition to the P-8As is expected to provide economic stimulus in the form of new construction, which is estimated to reach over $110 million and provide more than 1,100 jobs.

The second option would have based seven squadrons at NAS Whidbey and five squadrons at NAS Jacksonville.

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