The P-8A Poseidon, one of the Navy's newest aircraft and the platform currently replacing the aging P-3C Orion, arrived at Cooperative Security Location (CSL) Comalapa, El Salvador June 23.
Capable of surveillance and reconnaissance while simultaneously conducting long range maritime and littoral operations, the P-8A is scheduled to begin deployments in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility late next year. In preparation, a crew from the "Tridents" of Patrol Squadron (VP) 26 conducted a distinguished visitor orientation flight on the Poseidon aircraft.
Led by Capt. James W. Robinson, deputy commodore at Command Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 11, and Cmdr. Michael Borelli, VP-26 commanding officer, the P-8A arrived a day early to prepare for distinguished visitors and orientation flights.
The first group of distinguished visitors included the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Jean Manes, along with several El Salvadorian senior military officials.
The group was greeted by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet Rear Adm. George Ballance and CSL Comalapa Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Donald J. Williams. Following formal introductions, the group was given an orientation brief about the capabilities of the aircraft and departed on an 1 1/2-hour flight. During the flight, the observers were able to gain hands-on experience and an increased awareness of the capabilities of the P-8A. The group asked numerous questions regarding the aircraft and expected operational capabilities, all of which were fielded by the Trident aircrew.
"The tour was well organized and incredibly useful for discussion of the capabilities and coordination with our El Salvadoran counterparts," said Marine Col. Manuel Fabio Calderon, El Salvador 2nd Air Brigade commander. He also remarked he was "grateful for the opportunity to fly and learn about the capabilities of the P-8A."
The second group to fly was also greeted by Ballance and Williams. Distinguished visitors included the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Barkin, El Salvador Air Force Chief of Staff Col. Salvador Hernandez Vega, Chief of Intelligence Col. Alfredo Solano and Chief of Operations Col. Jorge Miranda. This group also received the orientation briefing before flying over the Pacific Ocean.
The P-8A is a derivative of a modified Boeing 737-800ERX airliner, bringing together a reliable airframe and high-bypass turbo fan jet engine with a fully connected, state-of-the-art open architecture mission system. It combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in support of operational efforts.
For over 10 years, the P-3C has been flying out of CSL Comalapa to support counter-narcotic and counter-illicit trafficking operations. The new aircraft will continue to support Joint Interagency Task Force-South missions out of CSL Comalapa.
The P-8A Poseidon is expected to make its first deployment to CSL Comalapa and U.S. 4th Fleet late in 2017.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
Source: US Navy
Date: Jun 30, 2016