Navy P-8A Aerial Refueling Capability Tested; Deployment Possible Late This Year
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — An air-to-air refueling capability for the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft has one phase of testing to go before it can be deployed in the operational fleet.
The P-8A was designed from the outset with an aerial refueling receptacle for a refueling boom, but implementation of the capability has been scheduled later in the aircraft’s deployment.
“We’ve completed developmental test on it [the aerial refueling capability],” Capt. Tony Rossi, the Navy’s maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft program manager, told reporters March 28. “It’s going into operational test this spring and it will also go out for fleet training. Maybe as early as late ’17, early fiscal year ’18 it will deploy operationally. That’s really up to the fleet operator when they are ready to go.”
“Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) also remains on track for a summer FIT [fleet introduction] with VP-5 [Patrol Squadron Five],” said Capt. David Whitehead, commanding officer of VP-30, the Navy’s P-8A and P-3 replacement training squadron, writing in the Maritime Patrol Association’s first-quarter 2017 newsletter. “Our VX-20 [Air Test & Evaluation Squadron 20] and VX-1 testers recently travelled to [Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.] to evaluate and train in the AAR-modified operational flight trainer (OFT). The OFT models exceed expectations and VP-30 plans to begin flights in the spring. AAR is a new capability for our community, and is essential in extending the operation reach of the Poseidon.”