Back before the ‘peace dividend’ of the end of the cold war, there were TWENTY-FOUR active duty P-3 squadrons scattered between NAS Moffett Field, CA; NAS Barbers Point, HI; NAS Brunswick, ME; and NAS Jacksonville, FL.

This is a picture of the active duty squadrons lined up on the ramp at NAS Jax…

From foreground to background, VP-5, VP-16, VP-24, VP-45 VP-49, and VP-56

With an average of 9 P-3s (216 active duty), 12 crews per squadron, and world-wide basing, that was ‘adequate’ to cover the mission requirements and operational requirements we were called on to perform.

Today, there are twelve active duty squadrons, split between NAS Jacksonville, FL and NAS Whidbey Island, WA flying the ‘new’ P-8A (Boeing 737). The contract has been expanded to get to 128 aircraft including aircraft for the training squadron and the two reserve squadrons left.

And the requirements are ramping back up… on squadrons with 6 aircraft and 12 crews…


TBT… — 14 Comments

  1. The same basic mission with about half the aircraft. That sounds like today’s bureaucratic military.

    I fear we will someday pay for that type of thinking.

  2. I remember seeing them on the ramp at Misawa AB back in 91 and 92 when I was on active. I enjoyed watching them climb into the air; it made me think of WW2 bombers from the movies I saw when I was growing up. Plus, they didn’t make the building I was in shake like a rattle when they took off, unlike the Japanese F-1s and US F-16s.

  3. “More with less” one day turns into “nothing with fragments.” Then management screams why no one told them about problems, and demands that X be done or supported — with nothing left to use. Empty ramps, parks, or docks are a message all of their own, along with empty barracks.

  4. 6 planes and 12 crews per squadron?
    2 crews per plane, check. Makes sense.
    No spare planes to cover maintenance down time – nonsense magical thinking detected!

  5. Soon we will be able to do everything with nothing, forever…

  6. Mike- Yep!

    Matt- Interesting… I was in and out of Misawa in 91/92 before I retired. I had people at the TOC that worked for me.

    PK- Exactly what CPF is seeing today with the OPTEMPO requirements and not enough assets of ANY type.

    McC- Welcome to the ‘new’ military… And they’re ‘new’ so they don’t require as much maintenance downtime… yet…

  7. Can I assume the support personnel have been cut as well. I know for sure that spare parts have been trimmed for all commands and maintenance cycles have been lengthened.

  8. I can remember the times when we had a hot Soviet contact in the Yankee Box. There were always three P-3s airborne airborne, one enroute to the area, one on station and one returning to Barbers Point. There was an airplane taking off and landing every four hours. One P-3 Squadron with 9 planes could handle it for a while, but the maintenance department had a difficult job at times trying to keep enough birds Mission Capable and the crews supplied with birds to hunt and track the Soviets. It was a stretch but it worked most of the time, until we ran out of the parts in the supply system and the parts the Maintenance Chiefs had squirreled away.

    Now the nation’s ASW capability has been slashed to the bone there aren’t enough airplanes and crews to prosecute our enemies. With only 12 squadrons we might be able to put up a good defense in the Atlantic, but we would have to recall every plane and crew from the Pacific to make the effort and abandon the VP airborne contribution to ASW. If the threat were in the Pacific, all 12 squadrons couldn’t cut it supporting forward deployed surface forces as well as sweeping shipping lanes and also providing coastal surveillance to Hawaii and the west coast.

    Our timid “leaders” have let us down by allowing VP ASW to atrophy to what we have left today.

  9. When things get spicy…and that’s when not if…we won’t be able to keep track of all the Chinese and Russian subs. And it will be the subs that get the first licks in against the CONUS.

  10. I note today in the snooz – heh – that a throwback technology was and is being monitored.


    Aside from these ignorant comments;

    “Retired Col. Steve Ganyard, an ABC News contributor, said the balloon appeared to be a standard research vessel — which would mean it was unpowered and drifted with the jet stream.”

    “China intentionally deploying a reconnaissance balloon over the U.S. would be highly provocative, with little value, Ganyard said, noting that Chinese satellites are able to collect information in a similar manner.”

    in which the “worthy” Colonel is talking out his ass, as most of them do when paid by the snooz, there is no limit to the efforts other couhtries will go to for info collection, because they do not like us, hate us, or consider us weak, from their political bias, but they do not consider America is not the government. And some of us are not weak.

  11. Gerry- They have been cut too!

    Hawaiian- Exactly!!! Grrr…

    Dan- Yep!

    Grog- And DOD was going to pop it, and got ‘stopped’ by ‘somebody’… Wonder who THAT was?

    • Most likely – heh – someone higher up than the duty officer at Wright-Patterson. chuckling

      Forgot to type the word “they” before “hate us”, should have triple scanned before sending the comment.

      • The Party Line from DC is “they were afraid debris would hit civilians.”

        I didn’t realize Montana and the Dakotas were that populated.