Navy preparing for major presence of new P-8 maritime patrol jets at Whidbey Island NAS, Wash.

SILVERDALE, Wash., 11 Aug. 2014. U.S. Navy maritime patrol experts are preparing for a major presence of the new Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol jet at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Oak Harbor, Wash., as the new jet slowly begins to replace the venerable Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion maritime patrol turboprop.

Navy preparing for major presence of new P-8 maritime patrol jets at Whidbey Island NAS, Wash.
Navy preparing for major presence of new P-8 maritime patrol jets at Whidbey Island NAS, Wash.
SILVERDALE, Wash., 11 Aug. 2014. U.S. Navy maritime patrol experts are preparing for a major presence of the new Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol jet at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Oak Harbor, Wash., as the new jet slowly begins to replace the venerable Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion maritime patrol turboprop.

Officials of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest in Silverdale, Wash., announced a $48.3 million contract to a large construction company to extend and upgrade hangar 6 at Whidbey Island NAS to accommodate four P-8A squadrons with sufficient maintenance space with a hangar bay. Receiving the contract was The Korte Co. construction firm in St. Louis.

Navy leaders plan in coming years to replace the nation's fleet of P-3 turboprop maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft with the new Boeing P-8. Four P-3 squadrons today are based at Whidbey Island, which were moved to that base after the Navy closed Moffett Field Naval Air Station in Mountain View, Calif., in 1994. Moffett Field had been the Navy's principal West Coast P-3 base.

The nation's other aircraft base with a major presence of the P-8 Poseidon is Jacksonville NAS in Jacksonville, Fla.

Related: P-8 Poseidon Navy maritime patrol jet to receive avionics upgrades for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sonobuoys

At Whidbey, the construction company not only will expand and modernize hangar 6 at Whidbey Island to accommodate P-8 aircraft, but also build a tent fabric extension to Whidbey Island's hangar 9 to enclose the base's P-3C aircraft during the construction period.

Hangar 6 repair and modernization will include seismic upgrades, renovate all interior administrative and shop spaces to include demolition of existing finishes, modernization of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, electrical system, and interior finishes to include walls, paint, flooring, and fixtures.

The facility also will be brought up to current seismic code and current Americans with Disabilities Act requirements; and current anti terrorism and force protection criteria.

The four P-3 Orion maritime patrol squadrons today based at Whidbey Island are the VP-1 Screaming Eagles; VP-40 Fighting Marlins; VP-46 Grey Knights; and VP-69 Totems. VP-69 is a reserve P-3 squadron.

Related: Boeing to enable Navy P-8A patrol jet to drop flying torpedoes and attack enemy subs from standoff ranges

The P-8A Poseidon is the latest Navy aircraft designed to execute long-range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. It is replacing the P-3C Orion, which has been in operation for more than 50 years.

The P-8A, a military variant of the Boeing 737 jetliner, first flew in 2009, and was approved for low-rate production the following year. The first production version of the aircraft was handed over to the Navy in 2012, and the aircraft achieved initial operating capability last November.

The P-8 will work together with the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton broad area maritime support (BAMS) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in performing the maritime patrol and ASW missions.

Related: Obsolete before deployment: Boeing to update P-8A electronic warfare avionics components to stave-off obsolescence

Ultimately, the Navy plans to buy 108 P-8A aircraft from Boeing to replace the service’s fleet of 196 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, which are approaching the end of operational life. The P-3 is a version of the Lockheed Martin Electra four-engine turboprop aircraft, which has been with the fleet since 1962.

On this contract The Korte Co. will do the work in Oak Harbor, Wash., and should be finished with the new P-8 hangar space by August 2017. For more information contact The Korte Co. online at www.korteco.com, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest at www.navfac.navy.mil/navfac_worldwide/atlantic/fecs/northwest, or Whidbey Island NAS at www.naswi.info.

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