HISTORY OF PATROL SQUADRON EIGHT: CONTINUING A LEGACY OF EXCELLENCE
Patrol Squadron EIGHT (VP-8) was commissioned as Patrol Squadron 201 (VP-201) in September 1942 in Norfolk, Virginia. During World War II, VP-201 flew the sea-based PBM Mariner aircraft, combating German submarines that threatened Allied shipping throughout the Atlantic. In June 1947, the squadron completed a homeport change to Quonset Point, Rhode Island and transitioned to the land-based P-2V Neptune aircraft. The squadron was renamed to VP-8 in September 1948, and in October 1962, VP-8 became the first operational P-3 Orion squadron in the U.S. Navy.
VP-8 operated the venerable P-3 above every ocean for over 50 years, earning a reputation as one of the best Maritime Patrol Aviation (MPA) squadrons. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, VP-8 demonstrated the P-3’s superior Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) capabilities by tracking Soviet submarines in the Caribbean and Eastern Atlantic. Later that decade, VP-8 flew combat missions throughout Southeast Asia in support of the Vietnam War. The squadron conducted a homeport change to Naval Air Station (NAS) Brunswick, Maine in 1971.
In December 1990, VP-8 deployed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Sigonella, Sicily during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. This conflict re-emphasized the P-3’s multi-mission capabilities while conducting coordinated operations with U.S. FIFTH Fleet Carrier Battle Groups, as well as monitoring Soviet, Libyan, and Iraqi naval units in the Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea. Over the course of the decade, VP-8 performed brilliantly on station supporting the following operations: SHARP GUARD and DECISIVE ENDEAVOR (Mediterranean Sea), DELIBERATE GUARD (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and SILVER WAKE (Albania - supporting the humanitarian evacuation of 889 civilian personnel).
In 1999, VP-8 upgraded to the P-3C Aircraft Improvement Program (AIP) aircraft. This new warfighting suite vastly improved the aircraft capabilities which further contributed to meeting national security objectives. Upgrades include an improved radar sensor (APS-137), surveillance video suite (AIMS) and robust communications which allows the aircraft to transmit “near real-time” imagery and data. With this advancement in technology, VP-8 excelled at ASW, ASUW and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions in support of the following operations: JOINT GUARDIAN, DETERMINED FORGE and DELIBERATE FORGE (Bosnia-Herzegovina), ALLIED FORCE and NOBLE ANVIL (Kosovo), ENDURING FREEDOM (Afghanistan), IRAQI FREEDOM and NEW DAWN (Iraq), UNIFIED ASSISTANCE (Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief missions in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean
earthquake/tsunami), and ODYSSEY DAWN (Libya). VP-8 conducted a homeport change from NAS Brunswick, Maine to NAS Jacksonville, Florida in 2009.
In December 2013, VP-8 embarked on its 37th and final P-3C Orion deployment prior to transitioning to the P-8A Poseidon. The dual-site deployment to Isa Air Base, Bahrain and to Comalapa, El Salvador demonstrated the squadron’s superb operational excellence as a premier MPA squadron and leader in the primary mission areas of ASW, ASUW and ISR in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI SUPPORT, as well as Counter-Transnational Organized Crime in support of Operations MARTILLO, CAPER FOCUS, and CARIBBEAN SHIELD.
Upon completion of the squadron’s final P-3 deployment in July 2014, aircrew and maintenance personnel began a seven month transition to the P-8A Poseidon. In February 2015, VP-8 will enter the Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle in preparation for their first deployment as a P-8A squadron.
The P-8A Poseidon is a modified Boeing 737-800ERX airframe featuring a fully connected, state-of-the-art, open architecture mission system. This aircraft features a highly advanced sensor suite which dramatically improves MPAs ASW, ASUW and ISR capabilities. The P-8A is the Navy’s next generation fixed wing aircraft that eventually replace the aging P-3C.
VP-8 has executed more than 200,000 mishap-free flying hours since 1978 and is currently led by Commanding Officer CDR Derek Adametz, Executive Officer CDR Andrew Barlow and Command Master Chief Patrick Campbell.
P-3C Antisubmarine Warfare Aircraft
- P-3C Orion long range ASW aircraft Description Four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.
- Features Originally designed as a land-based, long-range, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft, the P-3C's mission has evolved in the late 1990s and early 21st century to include surveillance of the battlespace, either at sea or over land. Its long range and long loiter time have proved invaluable assets during Operation Iraqi Freedom as it can view the battlespace and instantaneously provide that information to ground troops, especially U.S. Marines. The P-3C has advanced submarine detection sensors such as directional frequency and ranging (DIFAR) sonobuoys and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment. The avionics system is integrated by a general purpose digital computer that supports all of the tactical displays, monitors and automatically launches ordnance and provides flight information to the pilots. In addition, the system coordinates navigation information and accepts sensor data inputs for tactical display and storage. The P-3C can carry a mixed payload of weapons internally and on wing pylons.
- Background The P-3 Orion has been the Navy’s frontline, land-based maritime patrol aircraft since the 1960s. The most capable Orion version is the P-3C, first delivered to the Navy in 1969. The Navy implemented a number of major improvements to the P-3C (Updates I, II, II.5 and III) during its production run. P-3C aircraft communication, navigation, acoustic, non-acoustic and ordnance/weapon systems are still being modernized within several improvement programs to satisfy Navy and joint requirements through the early part of the 21st century. Current modernization programs include installation of a modernized communications suite, Protected Instrument Landing System, IFF Mode S and Required Navigation Performance Area Navigation, GPS, common avionics improvements and modernized cockpit instrumentation. The USQ-78(V) Upgrade Program is improving the USQ-78(V) Single Advanced Signal Processor system Display Control Unit, a programmable system control processor that provides post processing of acoustic data and is the main component of the Update III acoustic configuration. Up to 100 P-3C aircraft are being upgraded to USQ-78B configuration with System Controller (SC) and Acoustic Sub Unit (ASU) Tech Refreshes. In addition, all analog acoustic data recorders are being replaced with digital data recorders. The Critical Obsolescence Program (COP) began in fiscal year 2004 to improve aircraft availability through replacement of obsolete and/or top degrader systems. COP systems include the ARC-230 HF as replacement for the ARC-161, the USQ-130 Data Link as replacement for the ACQ-5, the ASW-60 Autopilot as replacement for the ASW-31, the ASX-6 Multi-Mode Imaging System (MMIS) as replacement for the AAS-36 IRDS and the Telephonics Secure Digital Intercommunications System (SDI) as replacement for the AIC-22 ICS. The Navy has shifted the P-3C’s operational emphasis to the littoral regions and is improving the antisurface warfare (ASUW) capabilities of the P-3C. The antisurface warfare improvement program (AIP) incorporates enhancements in ASUW, over-the-horizon targeting (OTH-T) and command, control, communications and intelligence (C4I), and improves survivability. The AIP program presently includes 72 kits on contract; 69 aircraft have been delivered to the fleet as of September 2006. Upgrades to the armament system include the addition of the AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER missile and Mk54 torpedo capabilities. P-3 mission systems sustainment, necessary to ensure the P-3 remains a viable warfighter until P-8A Poseidon achieves full operational capability (FOC), include acoustic processing upgrades through air acoustic rapid COTS insertion (ARCI) and tech refreshes, mission systems obsolescence management, and the upgrade of P-3 tactical communications and networking through over-the-horizon C4I international marine/maritime satellite (INMARSAT). The ongoing P-3C airframe sustainment program inspects and repairs center and outer wings while reducing Fleet inventory to the mandated 130 aircraft by 2010. The P-3C fleet has experienced significant fatigue degradation over its operational life as quantified through the Service Life Assessment Program (SLAP). The Navy has instituted special structural inspections programs and replacement kits to refurbish aircraft structures to sustain airframe life. The 12 active patrol squadrons (down from 24 in 1991) operate P-3C AIP and Update III configured aircraft. Other P-3 variants still in service include one VP-3A executive transport, four NP-3C and eight NP-3D research and development, testing and evaluation and oceanographic survey aircraft. Numerous countries also fly the P-3 Orion, making it one of the more prevalent Navy aircraft available for foreign military sales and support.
General Characteristics, P-3C Orion
- Primary Function: Antisubmarine warfare(ASW)/Antisurface warfare (ASUW).
- Contractor: Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Company.
- Date Deployed: First flight, November 1959; Operational, P-3A August 1962 and P-3C August 1969.
- Unit Cost: $36 million.
- Propulsion: Four Allison T-56-A-14 turboprop engines (4,600 hp each) FONT>
- Length: 116.7 feet.
- Height: 33.7 feet.
- Wingspan: 99.6 feet
- Weight: Maximum takeoff, 139,760 pounds
- Airspeed: Maximum, 411 knots; cruise, 328 knots.
- Ceiling: 28,300 feet.
- Range: Mission radius, 2,380 nautical miles; for three hours on-station at 1,500 feet, 1,346 nautical miles.
- Crew: (P-3C) three pilots, two naval flight officers, two flight engineers, three sensor operators, one in-flight technician.
- Armament: 20,000 pounds of ordnance, including AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-84E SLAM, AGM-84H/K and AGM-65F Maverick missiles, Mk46/50/54.