Swooping low over the aircraft carrier Enterprise, the Navy’s newest jet looks every bit a war craft, with little to belie its commercial airliner lineage or current test missions.
The P-8A Poseidon maritime multi-mission aircraft apparently made its first appearance in an operational, fleet exercise Feb. 3 when it began flying sorties in support of Exercise Bold Alligator, the largest amphibious exercise in a decade, now taking place along the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina.
The P-8A flew 20 missions in support of the Enterprise and its strike group, and another 14 sorties operating with the amphibious strike group and Marine expeditionary forces, according to U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.
That’s a departure from the extensive P-8A flight test programs being flown by Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons 1 and 20 (VX-1 and VX-20) from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
Sporting a spiffy sinking submarine logo on its tail, the VX-1 P-8A photographed from the Enterprise is known as “T-6,” the last of six test and evaluation aircraft delivered to the Navy by Boeing. It was accepted by the Navy and arrived at Pax River on Jan. 17, said LaToya Graddy, a spokesperson for Naval Air Systems Command.
The aircraft also will be used in upcoming operational test exercises set to begin this summer, she added.
The P-8 is under development by the Navy to replace the venerable, turbo-prop P-3 Orion.