The Navy’s Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One
(VQ- 1), based at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash., is the
last remnant of a community that has collected signals intelligence and provided early warning since the
1950s. VQ- 1 operates 12 EP-3E versions of the Orion,
with large crews of evaluators, intercept operators and
linguists that deploy worldwide, often in response to
tasking from national-level authorities.
The Navy is keeping the EP-3E modernized until
the end. In recent years, the aircraft has been upgraded
with an electro-optical/infrared sensor turret, line-of-sight wideband data links for full-motion video,
improved international maritime satellite connectivity
and additional signal boxes.
Replacing the capabilities resident in the EP-3E and
its crews will be no small chore, but the Navy seems
confident it will succeed, although
it declines to elaborate on the
details of the transition.
“The Navy will transition many
of the EP- 3 capabilities to the
MQ-4C Triton UAS,” Rossi said.
“The Maritime Patrol and
Reconnaissance Force is currently
transitioning from legacy plat-
forms to a new Family of Systems
comprised of P-8A Poseidon and
MQ-4C Triton supported on the
ground by TacMobile,” Ramsden
said. “Maritime capabilities res-
ident in legacy platforms will for
the most part be repopulated in the
Family of Systems.”
TacMobile is the name of the
program that provides three com-
mand and control systems — the
tactical operations center, the
mobile tactical operations cen-
ter and the joint mobile ashore
support terminal — that support
maritime patrol operations.
With the planned aircraft
retirements, the Navy has determined when it will stop training
new crews for the aircraft.
“The Fleet Replacement
Squadron, VP- 30, will cease P-3C
aircrew replacement training in
2018 and EP- 3 aircrew training in
2019,” Ramsden said.
“P-3C combat aircrews are
adapting very well to the new jet,”
he said of the transition. “With over
half of VP squadrons complete with
P-8A transition, the performance
of aircrews on station has been
outstanding. The operational and
tactical experience of legacy aircrew is very effective in fighting the
state-of-the-art Poseidon.” n
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