By Clark Pierce
More than a dozen of the most effective P-3C Orion combat aircrews (CAC) from CPRW-11 at NAS Jacksonville, CPRW-10 at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash., and CPRW-2 at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii are competing for the “championship belt” to be awarded to the winner of the 2012 ASW Fleet Challenge – held during the annual Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) Symposium at NAS Jacksonville.
P-3 aircrews from the military forces of Canada, Australia and Japan will also join the weeklong exercise that runs March 24 – 30.
The new P-8A Poseidon recently assigned to VP-30 will compete in the challenge – but is not eligible to win the championship belt because its mission simulator is not fully functional.
MPRF Fleet Challenge Coordinator Lt. Andrew Merlino explained that the competition consists of two parts. First is a P-3C simulator mission utilizing the Tactical Operational Readiness Trainer (TORT). The other part is a real-world flight operation to detect and track a Los Angeles-class attack submarine patrolling somewhere off the coast of northeast Florida.
“The TORT allows CACs to train at the highest level of realism. The sophisticated trainer is designed not only for new operators, but to maintain operational CACs proficiency without leaving the ground,” said Merlino. “For the fleet challenge, each CAC is graded by evaluators at the following positions: plane commander, tactical coordinator, sensor one operator and sensor two operator.”
He added, “The VP-45 ‘Pelicans’ have taken home the championship belt for the past two years and are working hard for a three-peat this week. It all comes down to how we train – and to each CAC’s ability to effectively search for contacts, identify targets, program and release weapons.”
Rear Adm. Michael Hewitt, commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group will award the championship belt to the winning squadron at the MPRF Symposium Flight Suit Social on March 30.
Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/military/jax-air-news/2012-03-28/story/vp-45-seek-three-peat-asw-fleet-challenge#ixzz1qWGpF8Z8