Tag Archives: P-8A Poseidon

U.S. Military Is On A Roll With Dramatic International Rescue Missions At Sea.

U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon Locates Missing Fishing Vessel in Search Off Sri Lanka. Dramatic Rescue Adds to List of Recent Humanitarian Successes by U.S. Aircraft.

A U.S. Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon has located a missing civilian fishing boat and its six-man crew in the vast open ocean south of the island of Sri Lanka in the Luccadive Sea north of the Indian Ocean. The long-range multi-mission maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft was from Patrol Squadron 45 (VP-45) the “Pelicans” originally from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida and flying out of Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia.

The U.S. Navy P-8A joined the search at the request of the Sri Lankan Navy after the fishing vessel went missing on Sunday, July 8, 2018.

Photos released by the U.S. Navy taken from the P-8A Poseidon show the fishing vessel after it was located with no engine wake and what may be a series of improvised sails rigged on its bow, suggesting the vessel may have lost steerage and power possibly resulting in it drifting south into the open ocean.

Photos taken from the U.S. Navy P-8A show improvised sails rigged on the bow of the fishing vessel and no wake at the stern, suggesting it may have lost power. (Photo: US Navy)

The region is known as dangerous for sailors and aircraft due to severe weather, the threat of piracy and other hazards to navigation in the remote maritime environment. Part of the unsuccessful search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared without a trace in March, 2014 was in this region.
A Sri Lankan Navy vessel is underway to the location of the lost fishing boat as directed by the U.S. Navy P-8A that located it hours after joining the three-day search.

Photo of one of the drifting crew members on the lost fishing boat taken from the U.S. Navy P-8A after the boat was located. (Photo: US Navy)

This successful search is the second victory for U.S. long range search and rescue efforts requested by a foreign nation following a similar incident on June 25, 2018 when a U.S. Air Force B-52H crew flying out of Andersen AFB, Guam and originally from Barksdale, Louisiana located a missing indigenous Polynesian canoe that was lost for six days near Guam in the Pacific. The crew of that B-52H were also able to direct rescue efforts to the location of the lost ocean canoe.

In an official U.S. Navy statement about the rescue operation, Navy Commander Mark E. Zematis, commanding officer of the 45th Patrol Squadron, said, “As we continue to explore the operational reach and agility of the P-8A Poseidon, the trust and relationships we build with our multi-national partners becomes more and more apparent in such a complex and broad Indo-Pacific region. The positive relationship between Sri Lanka and the United States is what allowed our aircrew and maintenance team to effectively launch and assist with the recovery of their countryman.”

Illustration of P-8A from Patrol Squadron 45 by Ugo Crisponi. (Image: AviationGraphics/Ugo Crisponi)

The Boeing P-8A Poseidon is a new long-range patrol, surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft that is based on the highly successful civilian Boeing 737-800ERX long range, twin-engine jet airliner. It first flew in April, 2009. The P-8A is the U.S. Navy’s replacement for the aging Lockheed P-3 Orion turboprop aircraft that performed the same mission. It is also in service with the Australian Air Force and the Indian Navy where it is known as the P-8I Neptune. England, Norway and New Zealand have also ordered versions of the highly successful P-8 Poseidon.

A new Boeing P-8A Poseidon long-range maritime surveillance aircraft. (Photo: Lance Riegle)

An interesting feature of the P-8A is its planned integration with the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton ultra-long range remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicle. This capability will enable the P-8 and MQ-4C to combine their surveillance areas significantly.

Everything We Know About The Hunt for Missing Argentine Submarine

U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol Aircraft along with several other assets race against time in dramatic search.

The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy have dispatched a large number of transport and maritime surveillance aircraft along with specialized personnel and submarine rescue equipment in an attempt to help locate the missing Argentine submarine A.R.A. San Juan (S-42) off the southeastern coast of South America.

The submarine disappeared on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 when last communication was received. The first problems were reported that morning around 7:30 AM when the captain radioed that the submarine was having “battery problems” in heavy seas. Following the report, the submarine was ordered back to port. Communications were lost shortly after. The submarine was last seen over 200 kilometers off the Patagonian coast of Argentina. Bad weather with waves of 26 feet and 45 MPH winds initially hampered search efforts both on the surface and with sensors searching underwater for the submarine.

The missing A.R.A. San Juan in an official Argentine photo. (Photo: Argentine Navy)

The A.R.A. San Juan (S-42) was on an ecological surveillance mission to interdict illegal fishing boats off the coast of Patagonia. She was patrolling from a naval base in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost point of South America and the gateway to the Straits of Magellan. The area is considered among the most dangerous seas in the world. Its destination was Mar Del Plata, 2,800 kilometers farther north along the Argentine coast.

The A.R.A. San Juan is a TR-1700 class diesel-electric submarine with a crew of 44. Her crew includes the first-ever female naval officer on board a submarine in the Argentine navy. She was manufactured by Thyssen Nordseewerke of Emden, Germany and commissioned in November, 1985. The TR-1700 is a proven undersea warfare platform operated by Israel, South Africa and Argentina. It is among the fastest diesel-electric submarines in the world and boasts a strong safety record.

Among the U.S. Navy’s search assets dispatched to the area in the increasingly urgent search are two Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft from Maritime Patrol Squadron 45 (VP-45), “The Pelicans”. Their home base when not deployed to the region is Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. The Boeing P-8A Poseidon is the U.S. Navy’s newest and most advanced anti-submarine surveillance and attack aircraft. It contains sensors that can detect magnetic anomalies in the ocean, monitor undersea communications and deploy specially equipped sonobuoys by parachute that sink into the ocean and send sonar signals into surrounding seawater then transmit findings back to the aircraft.

Two U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft from Maritime Patrol Squadron 45 (VP-45), “The Pelicans” have joined the search for the A.R.A. San Juan. (Photo: US Navy)

The first U.S. Navy P-8A was dispatched on Saturday as part of the U.S. Navy’s Southern Command. The U.S. military’s Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) conducts combined U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, Central American and South American theatre.

A second P-8A aircraft was added to the search on Sunday. The two U.S. Navy P-8As join a large number of search aircraft and ships from several nations already on station in the southern Atlantic conducting the urgent search. The two P-8A Poseidons flew from a deployment at El Salvador’s Comalapa Air Base to Bahia Blanca, Argentina to support the search and rescue effort. The aircraft are temporarily based in El Salvador in support of ongoing anti-narcotics operations.

On Nov. 19, the Argentine Navy released details about the rescue efforts and search area.

The U.S. Navy also announced on Sunday that it has deployed unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) to join in the search for the A.R.A. San Juan. The additional search equipment includes one Bluefin 12D (Deep) Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) and three Iver 580 UUVs. These remotely-operated mini-subs are operated by the U.S. Navy’s recently-established Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron 1, based in Keyport, Washington.

Both types of UUVs are capable of deploying quickly and searching wide areas using Side-Scan Sonar, a system that is used to efficiently create an image of large areas of the sea floor. The Bluefin 12D is capable of conducting search operations at 3 knots (3.5 mph) at a maximum operating depth of almost 1,500 feet for up to 15 hours, while the Iver 580s can operate at a depth of up to 325 feet, traveling at 2.5 knots (2.8 mph) for up to 5 hours.

U.S. Air Force C-17s and C-5s from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, airlift equipment from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. to Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ronald Gutridge)

There is also a NASA P-3 research aircraft currently supporting the ongoing search efforts over the submarine’s last known location.

A NASA P-3 Orion was diverted north from Antarctica to help coordinate the search for A.R.A. San Juan. (Photo: NASA)

Radar tracks show the NASA P-3 (N426NA) aircraft was diverted north from Antarctica to join the search on Nov. 19. At the time of writing the aircraft has returned to its usual task and is no longer involved in the search.

NASA P-3 supported the search and rescue efforts on Nov. 19.

Also on Sunday, the Royal Navy told England’s Daily Telegraph that the elite Submarine Parachute Assistance Group (SPAG) was flying to the region to join the hunt. The specialized rescue team is famous for their capability to parachute into the sea from search aircraft to join a submarine search and rescue, although that capability is unlikely to be employed during this search and rescue mission. Members of the team include specially trained medics, engineers and undersea escape specialists. The team is on notice to respond to a submarine emergency anywhere in the world in hours. For this operation, the SPAG team will operate from the Royal Navy’s HMS Protector (A163), a modern, specially designed ice patrol ship built in 2001 and already on station in search area.

A member of the Royal Navy’s Submarine Parachute Assistance Group (SPAG) in a demonstration. (Photo: Royal Navy)

On Sunday, additional assets from California and Hawaii, as well as other local nations, have been dispatched to scan the sea floor for in the search and rescue effort.

As hours tick by the search effort becomes increasingly urgent. Dr. Robert Farley, a lecturer at the University of Kentucky was quoted by the BBC World News as saying, “The outer range [of survival] appears to be ten days if they were well prepared.” On Wednesday, the search effort enters its seventh day. At least the weather is better than before and it should help a bit in the hunt.

During the last few days there have been several false alarms:

  • Seven failed satellite calls made to naval bases on Saturday turned out to come from another phone
  • Noise (resembling bangs on the sub’s wall in Morse code) picked up by a sonar was found not to have come from the missing vessel
  • White flares reported on Tuesday, were most probably not fired by the missing submarine

 

Ironically, the very same characteristics that make the submarine A.R.A. San Juan (S-42) so effective also make it difficult to find in a search effort. The San Juan is a stealthy diesel-electric submarine that is extremely quiet underwater and gives off few detectable emissions, especially if some of its systems may be disabled.

An anti-submarine warfare expert and former U.S. Navy submariner told TheAviationist.com that it is “Like trying to find a hole in the water”.

The current search area for the missing A.R.A. San Juan. (Argentine Navy)

Russian Mig-31 intercepts U.S. P-8 patrol aircraft near Russia’s Far East

A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon was intercepted by a Mig-31 near the Kamchatka peninsula.

On Apr. 21, a Russian Air Force MiG-31 jet intercepted a U.S. P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft flying in international airspace near Kamchatka Pensinsula, in Russia’s Far East, where a firing range used also to test intercontinental ballistic missiles launched from Borei-class strategic nuclear submarines is located.

The Russian Soviet-design supersonic interceptor flew within 15 meters of the U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane but unlike some of the previous “close encounters”, the interception was conducted in a “safe and professional” manner according to Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for the Pacific Command, who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

Indeed, the incident occurred one week after a U.S. Air Force RC-135 electronic intelligence gathering aircraft flying a routine mission (in international airspace) over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 that barrel rolled over the American spyplane.

Few days earlier, Russian Su-24s performed several low passes over a U.S. destroyer in the Baltic Sea, whereas on Jan. 25, 2016 a U.S. RC-135 intelligence gathering jet was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet over Black Sea that made an aggressive turn that disturbed the controllability of the Rivet Joint.

On Apr. 7, 2015 another Su-27 flew within 20 feet of an RC-135U, over the Baltic Sea.

On Apr. 23, 2015 a U.S. Air Force RC-135U performing a routine surveillance mission over the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, some 60 miles off eastern Russia was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker that crossed the route of the U.S. aircraft putting itself within 100 feet of the Combat Sent.

What’s newsworthy this time is the fact that the interception was conducted by one of the world’s fastest interceptor on one of the newest U.S. reconnaissance planes.

The Poseidon is a derivative of the Boeing 737, incorporating a 737-800 series fuselage mated to 737-900 wings and featuring raked winglets to improve low-altitude fuel burn. The aircraft can carry the Mk-54 airborne ASW torpedo and the Harpoon anti-ship missile. The aircraft is also an intelligence gathering asset offering greatly improved communications and connectivity in comparison with the P-3C Orion.

On the other side, the Mig-31 Foxhound is a two-seat Mig-25 Foxbat derivative in service since 1983.

Whilst the MiG-25 was built as a high-speed, high-altitude interceptor, capable of reaching the speed of Mach 3.2 to intercept American B-58 and B-70 bombers, the MiG-31 was designed to intercept the B-1B bomber, which was designed to operate at low-level, below the radar coverage.

Hence the MiG-31 has quite good low-level capabilities (which MiG-25 does not) and is equipped with an advanced radar with look-down-shoot-down capability (needed to detect low-flying bombers), and data bus, allowing for coordinated attack with other fighters.

Although the Mig-31 is quite obsolete, it is still one of the most amazing interceptors ever built, with top speed of Mach 2.83 and a range of 1,450 km. The production of the Mig-31 ended in the early 1990s, but the interceptor is being upgraded to extend its operative life up to the 2028 – 2030.  Until a replacement is available the Mig-31 will remain one the world’s fastest tactical fighter in active service to defend the Russian airspace.

Image credit: Dmitriy Pichugin

Report unveils the presence of more than a million counterfeit electronic parts in U.S. combat planes

The Senate Armed Services Committee has just released a year long report in the use of counterfeit parts in military equipment whose findings are simply shocking.

The report unveils the presence of some 1,800 cases of fake parts (worth more than a million components) than a in SH-60B helicopters and in C-130J and C-27J cargo planes as well as the US Navy’s P-8 Poseidon.

The report highlighted that more than 70 percent of the counterfeit parts were traced back to China, but it blamed weaknesses in the U.S. supply chain, and China’s failure to curb the counterfeit parts manufacturers.

U.S. servicemen rely on a multitude of sophisticated electronic parts found in all sorts of systems, from GPS to Night Vision equipment and these counterfeit parts have not passed through the rigorous testing that the real parts have.

Indeed, whilst the report laid the blame squarely at the feet of the Chinese it said: “U.S authorities and contract companies contributed to the vulnerabilities of the defense supply chain by not detecting the fake parts or routinely failing to report suspected counterfeiting to the military.”

The report did however praise the National Defence Authorization Act, signed into law on Dec 31, 2011, by President Barack Obama, whose intention is to stop the flood of these counterfeit parts into the U.S. even by reducing sourcing from unknown supplier.

Just think to what would happen if China tried to intentionally flood the U.S. military with counterfeit parts: a failure could put the lives of U.S. service personnel in danger at the wrong moment both in combat and during normal training activities.

That’s why integrity of the supply chain must be considered a national security matter.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

Four ATR72MP to replace the ageing Italian fleet of Br.1150 Atlantic

On Dec. 22, a press release from Alenia Aeronautica announced the agreement reached by the Finmeccanica company and the Direzione Generale Armamenti Aeronautici (General Management for Aeronautical Armaments) of the Defence Ministry, for the supply of 4 ATR72MP (Maritime Patrol) aircraft, medium-range, twin-engine turbine airplanes that will replace the Sigonella based Br.1150 Atlantic of the 41° Stormo. The new aircraft, will be delivered to the Aeronautica Militare starting from 2012 and will be employed in maritime patrol missions. Since the press release doesn’t mention it, the new version developed ad-hoc by Alenia for the ItAF (7 ATR42MPs are already in service with the Guardia di Finanza (Customs Police) and the Coast Guard), should be used only for surveillance, SAR (Search And Rescue) and anti-immigration purposes and will not carry antisom equipment. According to the news issued by Alenia, the new aircraft, that will have a higher endurance, will be equipped with the SELEX Galileo ATOS mission system, which integrates the Seaspray, electronic-scan surveillance radar and the EOST (Electro-Optical multi-Sensor Turret), for the identification of boats and persons at sea in any weather condition; with RWR and passive countermeasures, ESM, and with last-generation datalink and communication systems for net-centric operations supporting Link 11, Link 16 and SICRAL. Even if the ATR72MP is quite an improvement from the ATR42MP it is less capable (but also less expensive) than the ATR72 ASW order by Turkey; consequently, the Italian Air Force (and the Italian Navy, since crews on board Br.1150 are mixed), is about to loose the capability to protect maritime and commercial routes from submarine threats. However it could also represent a sort of gap filler, a means for replacing the 18 ageing Atlantic (in service since 1972) until the budget will be available for a MMA (Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft), a platform that, ideally, should be the Boeing 737-based P-8A “Poseidon”, or alternatively, the same ATR72MP upgraded to the ASW version with antisom capabilities.