Poseidon Is No Longer Mythical

December 2, 2009
By Henry Kenyon

Drawing from the aging P-3C's technology, the U.S. Navy is upgrading nearly all of that platform's systems to retire the Orion after 40 years and introduce the newest maritime patrol aircraft, the Poseidon P-8A. News Editor Rita Boland takes trident in hand to capture the details in Poseidon Rules the Waves From the Air, featured in SIGNAL Magazine this month.

Until recently, budget woes deep-sixed Poseidon's development, but the Navy could no longer fathom operating maritime air reconnaissance using a decades-old aircraft.

To address other nations' rapidly increasing vessel inventory, NAVAIR's P-8A team lead, Capt. Leon Bacon, USN, discusses how Poseidon's open systems architecture provides quick-response capabilities to help the Navy stay current and focused on the threat:

The proliferation of subs is concerning. There are countries all over the world not only developing and producing--but also buying on the open market--quiet diesel subs. In the long run, Poseidon is important because we'll be able to pace the threat. The aircraft's systems are not quite plug and play, but almost.

The P-8A long-range ASW (anti-surface warfare) ISR aircraft can accomplish broad-area maritime and littoral operations, carrying more sonobuoys than the P-3C. The Navy will be able to sweep a wider expanse of water much more quickly. The Poseidon can process 64 passive sonobuoys and 32 multi-static sonobuoys, and it can perform concurrent passive/active processing, compared to Orion's 32 passive or 16 active buoys.

Other upgraded technologies include INMARSAT connectivity, electronic support measures, early warning self-protection, missile-warning sensors and directed infrared countermeasures.

As time goes on, the Navy will leverage Poseidon's greater capabilities for missions, Capt. Bacon explains, namely high-altitude ASW and overland operations:

By virtue of being able to fly faster and higher, it is already a benefit for us. It also benefits the Navy because it can land anywhere with a prepared airfield. It's going to be keeping you and me safe for many years to come.

The P-8A immediately will fill gaps left by the P-3C as the Navy retires the airplanes. It will be located at the same sites--Whidbey Island, Washington; Jacksonville, Florida; and Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii--and will deploy from there to execute ASW and ISR missions.

The sea service is preparing for potential upgrades in 2013, when the Poseidon reaches IOC, and beyond. Boeing leads the industry team building the P-8A for the Navy. Other team members are CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, GE Aviation and Spirit AeroSystems.

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