The US Navy deployed a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) from Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 “the Pelicans” to assist the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in testing a surface task group’s air defences.
The deployment and exercise was part of the larger Australian Navy’s fleet certification period. The exercise focuses on warfighting at a high level and ensures operational fleet readiness.
The P8-A Poseidon aircraft, as well as a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A aircraft and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 aircraft, was tasked with testing the task group’s readiness against airborne combatants.
“Taking part in the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet certification period has been an excellent opportunity to exercise interoperability with our Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force maritime patrol counterparts,” said Lieutenant Commander Timothy Chesney, officer in charge of VP-45’s Poseidon crew.
“Over the course of the detachment we conducted multiple scenarios of anti-submarine warfare, allowing for adequate mid-intensity warfare techniques.”
VP-45, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is deployed to Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. The squadron is conducting maritime patrol and reconnaissance as well as theater outreach operations within US 7th Fleet area of operations.
As the US Navy’s largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build maritime partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.
The P-8A aircraft and MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft Systems will replace the AP-3C Orions, which are due for withdrawal in 2018-19.
The government has committed to acquiring 15 P-8A Poseidon aircraft – 12 P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft have been approved for acquisition and three are subject to normal Government Defence acquisition approval processes
The P-8A Poseidon has advanced sensors and mission systems, including a state-of-the-art multirole radar, high-definition cameras and an acoustic system with four times the processing capacity of the AP-3C Orions.
The P-8A is built specifically as a military aircraft. It is based on the proven commercial designs of Boeing’s 737-800 fuselage but has been substantially modified to include a weapons bay, under wing and under fuselage hard points for weapons, and increased strengthening for low-level (down to 200ft) operations and high-angle turns.