the P-3C Orion to the P-8A Poseidon, an aircraft capable of broad-area maritime and littoral operations. The
P-8A Poseidon is a long-range anti-submarine warfare,
anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance aircraft. The P-8A will serve as the
future of maritime patrol and reconnaissance for
decades to come.
In comparison to P-3C, the P-8A is quite a bit more
capable, particularly with regard to range, endurance
and reliability. The acoustic system has a greater total
search area and probability of detection while the sensor and communications systems are seamlessly integrated with one another, greatly increasing the mission
effectiveness of the aircrew.
We send our most capable platforms forward to the
Western Pacific, as demonstrated by the recent deployments of P-8A squadrons to the Seventh Fleet area of
operations, and we have been very pleased with their
performance. The aircraft’s speed, time-on-station and
dependability, combined with its highly integrated
modern sensor suite, have proven to be optimally suited to the operational tasking in the Western Pacific.
The UCLASS requirements await definition.
What do you envision as the roles the
UCLASS will fill from carrier decks?
SHOEMAKER: Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne
Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) will be the next step
in the Navy’s revolutionary integration of unmanned
air systems into the CSG and provide the strike group
commander with persistent ISR plus time-critical targeting and precision-strike capability. The real advantage this system brings to the fleet is its ability to operate in anti-access/area-denial environments and provide increased situational awareness of potential
threats ahead of the CSG, essentially serving as the
commander’s initial “eyes and ears” in contested air
and water space.
Naval aviation continues to expand its arsenal of
unmanned systems and aircraft across the broad spectrum. The land-based platform, MQ-4C Triton, is nearly finished with its test program and will join the fleet
soon. The rotary wing community is continuing integration of the Fire Scout.
What is the next step in fielding the V- 22 as a
carrier onboard delivery aircraft?
SHOEMAKER: We are planning to conduct a fleet battle experiment this fall with U.S. Marine Corps MV- 22
support. The experiment will extend the knowledge
gained from the 2013 V- 22 Military Utility Assessment
and will inform the development of concepts of operations for the Navy V- 22 as a carrier onboard delivery
The experiment will include aircraft moves (towing)
around the carrier’s flight deck and hangar bay to simulate representative underway aircraft evolutions, as well
as Case III launches and recoveries (takeoffs and landings at night and during poor weather conditions) with
ongoing cyclic fixed-wing flight operations.
The memorandum of understanding signed between
the secretary of the Navy, the chief of naval operations and
the commandant of the Marine Corps in January of this
year addresses the planned introduction of the airframe
into the Navy. For fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020, the
memorandum calls for four — with a maximum of 12 —
V-22s per year that would have been allocated to the
Marine Corps to instead be delivered to the Navy.
The aircraft carriers have been running hard
for more than two decades. As their type commander, what are the main challenges in keeping them manned, equipped, maintained and
trained in all of their warfare areas to be ready
SHOEMAKER: The continuous forward presence carriers provide around the world comes with a cost. After
nearly 14 years of sustained combat operations, naval
aviation forces must reset and recapitalize in an effort
to ensure readiness in the future.
The frequency and extended durations of carrier
strike group deployments has accelerated the wear on
the force and led to increased maintenance and repair
requirements, resulting in lengthened maintenance availability periods. Deliberate planning and resourcing has
naval aviation on a path to recover our readiness in the
coming months and years, ensuring the carrier force is
where it needs to be, when it needs to be there.
Current challenges where we are focusing our
efforts include aircraft inventory management and carrier maintenance. It is critical to ensure our depots and
shipyards are completing maintenance on schedule so
we have sufficient time to properly train our carrier
strike groups for deployment. Delays to maintenance
can result in compressed training timelines and can
introduce unnecessary risk.
The recent three-carrier swap in the Pacific
seemed to have been well-planned and executed. What was the amount of savings accrued
by the crew swaps? Why did USS George
Washington not complete a Persian Gulf
deployment before heading to Norfolk?
SHOEMAKER: Intense planning went into the three-hull swap evolution. The crew swap allows geographic
stability for many of the Sailors and their families
while providing a savings of approximately $41 million
in permanent change of station costs to the Navy.