characteristics of a select set of submarine classes, today’s
patrol crews must be ready to take on a wider range of
potential submarine threats.
“We view our job as being prepared to go against
[any] diesel or nuclear target when called upon,” Prindle
said. “We don’t know necessarily from month to month
or year to year who that threat submarine might be. Our
challenge today is to be more capable overall of going
against submarine targets. We realize that might limit
our overall capability if we focus too narrowly.”
Squadrons spread over multiple deployment sites
also make continuity in ASW training difficult, but
Prindle credits squadron commanding officers for diligence in rotating crews to maintain proficiency. The
rotations also give the crews experience in different
The simulators widely used in crew training are
going to be very useful in what Prindle sees as a future
trend — distributed training — in which simulators at
any base will be linked by communications architecture
to a strike group and be able to join into any exercise as
virtual P-3s on-station. This will yield “tremendous”
value in terms of training fidelity at a fraction of the
cost of using aircraft and expensive sonobuoys such as
multistatic sensors. He stressed the need for balance in
simulated and real-world training.
“ASW is a team sport,” Prindle
said. “We’ve got to be able to effectively employ our sensors without
sub-optimizing the sensors of another
asset. By practicing these techniques,
before we all get together in a very
costly but hopefully well-planned
exercise, the more effective we’re
going to be. We’ve got to be smart
enough to know when to prioritize
the sensors of that platform and let
them be the key piece in the kill chain
to generate the attack criteria.”
A key initiative of the P- 3 community is focusing training on the weak-est links in the kill chain, the tasks
that are hardest to master, such as
quickly and accurately delivering a
weapon on target.
“Most crews can kick buoys out of
the plane and put a pattern in the
water, so let’s not practice that every
single time if the crew is pretty good
at it,” Prindle said.
Link officials see the FDT as
helpful to the Navy’s efforts.
“The value of these devices is that
it allows the operators a real ability to
train as they fight,” Clark said. “One of the more unique
characteristics of the device is to allow them to rehearse
missions prior to actually going out on a forward-deployed mission. It allows them to perform at a much
The FDT also will help the Navy maintain proficiency
as it husbands the remaining life on its aged P-3C force.
“As the aircraft gets older, less flight time is available
and proficiency training time in the aircraft is reduced,
so they need the trainers to keep [the crews] well
honed,” Hibbs said.
Link will deliver the first FDT to Naval Air Station
Jacksonville, Fla., and ready it for training by March 2008.
Up to nine FDTs will be built if all contract options are
exercised, bringing the contract value to approximately
$28 million. Options also include contractor logistic support for renewable six-month periods for each device.
Link has responded to a request for information
from Boeing with a scalable mission simulation solution for the P-3C’s replacement, the P-8A Poseidon,
said Jeff Schram, Link’s director of Navy business
development. Link also is proposing the FDT for international sales to other operators of the P- 3 and derivatives, including Pakistan, Canada and the Republic of
Korea, “who need a scalable system in fidelity and size
to fit their training needs,” he said. ■
LINK SIMULATION & TRAINING
The nonacoustic sensor station of the P-3C Tactical Operational Readiness
Trainer will train crew members in radar, electro-optical, electronic surveillance,
magnetic anomaly detection and other sensors.