Navy Deploys P-8A Aircraft to U.S. Sixth Fleet
A Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft squadron has deployed to the U.S. Sixth Fleet for the first time, expanding the aircraft’s deployed force levels to a third area of responsibility beyond the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf.
Patrol Squadron 45 (VP-45), based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Fla., has deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, in support of operations in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility. Prior to this deployment, maritime patrol coverage in the region was provided by VP squadrons flying P-3C Orions.
The P-8A made its first deployment in December 2013, operated by VP-16 from Naval Air Facility Kadena, Okinawa, Japan, followed in sequence by VP-5, VP-45 and now VP-8. VP-5 deployed to the U.S. Fifth Fleet earlier this year. The current deployment to the Mediterranean Sea region is the second P-8A deployment for VP-45. The P-8A also will be deployed in support of the U.S. Fourth Fleet in late 2017.
So far, six of the Navy’s 12 fleet VP squadrons have made the transition from the P-3C to the P-8A. VP-45 relieved a Hawaii-based P-3C squadron, VP-4, which soon will begin a transition to the P-8A and move to NAS Whidbey Island, Wash.