We had another successful reunion for the former members of VP-4. The squadron flew in one of their P-3C II.5 planes. We were able to tour the plane. They had an early version of the new optical system installed. The camera is installed in the forward observers seat (now the Tacco station). The operator sat at the ordancemans seat. In the newer version, the operator will be SS3. The camera will be in the FLIR pod under the cockpit. It was interesting the Tacco was talking about the SS1/SS2 station and saying the new AW’s can’t operate the OLD gear on the II.5, they can only use the newest upgrades on the III. The crews don’t fly with an ordanceman anymore. I am not sure who throws out the buoys from inside when they have to, maybe the 3P. They have GPS nav systems along with their INS. They are capable of firing the Maverick and Slam missiles now.
We had a luncheon at the O club and RADM Furlong (Ret) spoke on the future of the Navy. He spent 35 years in and was mostly a fighter type. His main topic was the surface Navy. The Navy is currently down to 301 ships. At the rate we are going we will be in the 200’s shortly. We are building 8 ships a year. That is the lowest since 1932. We need to be building 12 ships a year to stay at the 300-ship figure. It takes 10 years to build a nuclear aircraft carrier. During the 1992-1999 era, the government retired 4 carriers and 120 ships. He said that deployments are 4 times greater now then in the cold war era and of course with less people. The hot spots are Iraq, the Pakistan/India tensions (nuclear standoff) and of course China. RADM Furlong is heavily involved in the Museum. He said that is 3-4 years they will double the floor space of the museum. They have moved all the large aircraft from the behind the museum to the flight line, so you have to take a quick bus ride to see them. They now have a NASA P-3 too.
The Cubi Cafe now finally has San Miguel Beer and Cubi Dogs!!!
The other speaker at the luncheon was the XO of VT-4, LCDR Sadsad. He was born in Olongapo, he got a big cheer. Of course the active duty guys wouldn’t understand. He served in VP-47 and 50. He said they are already starting to see changes for the better with the new administration, more money for parts. The S-3’s are gone so the P-3 is the main player in ASW. They call it now USW, (Undersea Warfare). The other missions are intel and recon, mining, counter narcotics and SAR. There are six active West Coast squadrons left, 3 in Kaneohe, Hawaii and Whidbey Island, Wash. Each squadron has 10 planes; VP-4 has 4 AIP, 4 ASW and 2 bounce birds. That is deploying squadrons. The ones at home might have to give a plane to the deploying squadron and have some as space part planes. The Navy is trying to improve the quality of life for the sailors. The retention issue is another important area that needs to be addressed.
The current sights that the squadrons could go to are: Chile, San Diego, Anchorage, Misawa, Kadena, Diego Garcia, Masira Oman and Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. When they go to that area they operate under 5th fleet. The possible sub treats are the kilos (Russian) from Iran, Pakistan, and India. If there is a no aircraft carrier in the area of the Adriatic Sea off Yugoslavia, then the only act in town is the P-3’s from Sig.
VP-4 had fired missiles at land targets with their AIP P-3’s in Kosovo. VP-8 was the first squadron to do that and VP-4 was second. So it looks like land attack will be the new mission for the P-3’s.
Looking at the replacement for the P-3 are several possibilities: a) the Boeing 737 (VR is getting that to replace the C-9, it is called a C-40). b) the Nimrod, c) the Orion 21, a version of the P-3 and d) a UAF, which is an unmanned surveillance craft. (that would be interesting!)
VP-4 received the Battle E award for 2000 and was getting the Isabel Trophy this past weekend for 6 out of area ASW flights on their last deployment to Misawa. They had 2 Russian and 4 Chinese subs. They will be deploying to Diego Garcia in Dec.