The Future of the VP Community By Daryl Phillippi
Sent from John Stark – former VP-4 CO.
This is a very good summary of MPA briefings at JAX associated with the 100th anniversary of Naval Aviation by VP-4 alum. Worth a read.
Greetings fellow Patrol Squadron Four members.
I just came back from the Centennial celebration of Naval Aviation and especially observing Patrol Aviation in Jacksonville, Florida. It was April 4-6, 2011. I’m going to recap for you the briefing we received on Wednesday from Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt, Commander Patrol and Recon. Force. He welcomed us to the event. We then listened to a simulated briefing for a crew to fly against a Chinese Yuan class sub. The sub is a diesel-electric boat. It was first built in 2004. The speed of the sub is 20 kts. It has 6 torpedo tubes and can fire anti-ship missiles. The op area for this event is East of Taiwan.
The briefing was then turned over to Commodore Tray Wheeler, CPW-11 in Jax. The breakdown of the Patrol Aviation community starts with ADM Hewitt as the Commander of the force. Under him are CPW 2, CPW 10 and CPW 11. Now there is an ADM commanding the op areas. Under that ADM are CTF 57, CTF 72 and CTF 67.
At one point there were 450 P-3’s and now we are down to approximately 85 mission capable aircraft. A couple of years ago there were issues with the wings and some planes were “red striped”, in other words hard down. The fleet got down to 49 aircraft. The planes are owned by the squadrons, but they are sharing their planes between squadrons. Sometimes they might leave a plane on deployment for the next squadron. Presently there are 2 reserve squadrons left. They own their planes, but also share. There are 18 squadrons with 7273 sailors: 1346 officers and 5927 enlisted.
Commodore Dave Cutter from Wing-2 spoke next. VP-4 is very busy with the Chinese Navy and also providing relief in Japan. Other squadrons in Kaneohe are VP-9 and VP-47. Plus there is VPU-2. There is an ASWOC located in San Diego to assist squadrons working with the fleet. There has been a BAMS-D (Demonstrator) working in the Pacific for awhile now. This is a Global Hawk UAV with maritime sensors; cameras, radar, and comm gear for the Navy. It operates at 60,000 ft and has an endurance of over 20+ hours. The pilots fly it from the “desert” and the TACCO and sensor operators are in Pax River. Usually there are 3 different crews on duty during these long missions.
Commodore Pete Garvin from Wing-10 spoke next. The squadrons at Whidbey are VP-1, VP-40, VP-46, and VP-69. Also there are VQ’s 1 & 2 . VQ is deployed 365 days a year to Bahrain, Kadena, Sigonella Sicily, and Turkey. Commodore Wheeler then spoke again. He said he had VP-5, VP-8, VP-10, VP-16, VP-26, VP-45, and VP-62, plus the special ops squadron VPU-1 in Jax. VP squadrons 8, 10 and 26 were at Brunswick before it closed.
There are 24 different variations of the P-3 today. One version is the AIP. The improvements are: Radar, SAR (overland surveillance and radar images), ISAR (maritime surface detection images). Electro Optics/Infrared, ESM, Color Displays and Weapons- SLAM ER and Maverick. The VP-5 crew that fired the Maverick off Libya had a LTJG TACCO and the PPC was on his first flight. They said they hope to de-classify the video so we can see it someday. Presently VP-4 is in Kadena and Misawa. VP-5 is in Sigonella Sicily, Djibouti, and El Salvador (drug ops). VP-8 is currently in Bahrain and Qatar. The primary mission of the P-3 is still ASW. China has 66 submarines and the U. S. has 70 submarines. China has top of the line equipment and the subs are quiet.
If there is a piracy event, the Navy’s interaction will have a P-3 overhead. In drug interdiction the bad guys have tried using
semi-submersible and fully submersible subs to get drugs to the U. S. The Russians are still operating. They don’t have a big presence like before, but they are out there. The Chinese are now considered a Blue Water Navy. They are operating beyond the “first chain of islands”. That would be from Taiwan to Okinawa to Japan and East of that line.
The project manager of the P-8 spoke next. The Navy is buying 117 aircraft. It is a Boeing 737-800 with a -900 wing. It will weigh 187,700 lbs. It will cruise at 490 kts and max alt is 41,000 ft. Its range is 4000 miles or 1200 miles with 4 hrs on station. It has in-flight refueling capacity. The P-8 is fuel efficient at 10,000 ft, but not so good at low altitudes. There is technology to launch sonos at 10,000 ft to hit a lat/long position. The flight time is limited to 17 hrs due to the engine oil. It will have 9 crewmembers; 2 pilots, 2 NFO’s and 3 AW’s. Plus there are 2 observer positions. There are 5 stations in the back, and all capable of inter-mixing these positions (tacco in the middle or at the ends). The plane is capable of carrying 20 total pax. It can carry 5 MK 54 torpedoes in the bomb-bay behind the wings. There are 4 wing stations. It can carry 76 sonobuoys. They will be launched from 3 cylinders. They will be reloaded from the sono racks in flt. The cabin will remain pressurized. There is no MAD on this plane, too much metal interference. There might be an expendable drone the size of a buoy and be shot out of the plane and then fly a mad trapping pattern. This might happen in 2016. There are dual nav. systems. INS and also celestial info
could be fed into the nav system. The plane will come on line in 2013 and one Jax squadron will be the first. It has early warning self-protection and electric support measures. The plane that was at the event was the 3rd (T-3) built. There are 6 planes in flight testing. The first production plane for the Navy is in Renton, WA going through the production line. There will be 6 aircraft and 12 crews in the P-8 squadrons.
The events for the 3 days were; on day 1 there was a tour of the P-3 simulators, the new hanger which will house the current squadrons and future P-8’s. They can fit 10 P-3’s in the hanger. Then in the afternoon was the fly-by. There was vintage aircraft; Stearman and TBM. Then there was a T34C, C-12, and T44C. Then came 3 P-3’s. The first was painted in WW II PBY markings. The next 2 were in the white and black colors. Then the highlight was the arrival of the P-8. Unfortunately the PBY was not able to attend (Maint. issues). They looked into bringing in a fire bomber P-2, but they wanted a lot of money and it
exceeded the budget of the planners for this event. On Tues night was the heritage dinner. Vice Admiral Al Myers, Commander of Naval Air Force (Air Boss) was the guest speaker. There were 17 Admirals in attendance. The 3 P-3’s, the P-8 and the BAMS were parked outside the hanger for viewing. Then we had the induction of the first group into the Patrol
Aviation Hall of Fame. One familiar name is Jay Beasley, ‘Mr. P-3’. ADM Hewitt said he would like to make this an annual event. On Wed morning we had the briefing from ADM Hewitt and the Commodores. In the afternoon, we attended the re-dedication of the PBY on the base. It took 2 years to restore the plane. There were 4 crewmembers from WW II who were on the PBY present at the dedication.
I have posted the pictures I took.
You can view them at http://patrolaviationjaxapril2011.shutterfly.com.
I am attempting to do the same with my video, but am having difficulty getting it to the shutter fly site. That will be under
http://patrolvideojax2011. shutterfly. com. I hope to have it posted by next Mon.
Most of the video is of the heritage dinner and dedication of the PBY, not to mention some P-3’s flying. I have attached a copy of the heritage dinner program. My scanner is not working correctly, so I had it down at a store. Unfortunately they didn’t put in the pages the same way, so they are sideways. If you have a printer, you can print out your own copy.
It was a great time being in attendance for this event. During the dinner, they showed a video of the early years of Naval Aviation and then covered the Patrol Aviation era up to the present. In one scene towards the end is a shot of CO Messegee (1975) flying, chasing a sub. There was a copy of VP-4’s P-2 “Ruler of the Sea” print hanging right outside the auditorium at VP-30. There were only 2 other prints on the wall; a PBY and P3B. Being at the VP-30 hanger brought back memories of
hearing the sound of an APU, and the Allison engines running. Not to mention the smell of JP. It was an honor being around some our nation’s finest young people who are now carrying on the mission of defending this great nation.