USN 'Broadarrows' Launch Historic Japan Mission
early 40 aircrew and maintenance members of Patrol Squadron Six Two (VP-62) the 'Broadarrows' headed to Japan as part of the first-ever mobilization of a Reserve P-3 squadron, June 4.
The squadron, which has been flying the Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft since the height of the Cold War, preparing for and conducting anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and other maritime patrol missions, will join VP-26 with several detachments in the western Pacific.
In recent years, the Broadarrows have gone on detachments to El Salvador, where they have flown many counter-narcotics missions in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico area.
Now, as the active-duty VP squadrons transition from flying the propeller-driven P-3C to the new jet-powered Boeing P-8 Poseidon, the Reservists will provide crucial support in conducting maritime patrol and reconnaissance missions globally while the active-duty squadrons come up to speed with their new aircraft.
One of the Reservists going on deployment is Master Chief Naval Aircrewman Spence Cunninghman, the last P-3 acoustic sensor operator to have flown during the Cold War. Cunningham joined the Navy in 1981 and tracked Soviet submarines in the Mediterranean Sea and western Atlantic Ocean.
"My expectations are what any acoustic operator worth his or her salt should be, tracking submarines. Being primarily an Atlantic Fleet operator, I look forward to working in the Western Pacific against some very challenging submarines found in that area of the world. I relish the challenge and look forward to sharing my experience with some young fleet operators out there. Not to mention, getting to experience liberty in the exotic countries of the Western Pacific."
Another Reservist making the trip is Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Scott Woodward. Woodward joined the Navy Reserve six years ago after talking to a recruiter during his lunch break.
"I chose to join the Reserves rather than going active duty because I wanted to go to school at the same time," said Woodward, who completed his degree in Criminal Justice last December. "This will be my first deployment with a squadron. I was deployed to Iraq in 2009, but after six years in the Navy, it's pretty exciting to finally go on the road, working in my rate, with my own unit.
"Other than going to Iraq, this will be the first time I've travelled outside the country," said Woodward. "I've always wanted to go to Japan, to be able to do some sightseeing. I have a friend from Tokyo who showed me some pictures of the city where he's from, and I would like to see some of the museums."
"VP-16 is now transitioning to the P-8. They are the first active squadron to get the new aircraft and that is what creates the demand for VP-62 and VP-69 to deploy," said Cmdr. Jon Townsend VP-62 commanding officer. "We are taking their place on deployment while they transition. We are scheduled to deploy again three more times as the rest of the active-duty squadrons transition. As they transition, we fill their place.
"The Reserves will not transition to the P-8 until all active-duty squadrons have made the change," said Townsend. "I believe the eventual transition to P-8 will be easier for the Reserves than the active component since many of the Reserve pilots fly for the airlines and may already fly the 737."
The P-3 has served the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) for more than 35 years. While mission gear has been updated over the years, the airframe itself is rapidly approaching the end of its service life. The new P-8A, a military variant of the Boeing 737, comes with improved airframe reliability, high-altitude surveillance and reconnaissance capability, open-architecture mission systems, in-flight refueling capability and many other modern features.
MPRF's transition to the new P-8 basically involves six-month FIT (Fleet Introduction Training) plus a one-year IDRC (Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle). While the IDRC is always there, it's the 6-month FIT that causes the gap in deployment coverage. It's these gaps that the Reserves are mobilizing to cover.
"Maintaining crew readiness and completing all the requirements for deployment has its own challenges for a Reserve squadron," said Command Master Chief Mike Heisler, VP-62's senior enlisted leader. "A combat aircrew cannot be qualified individually. Each member of the team must be present for each evolution. When they launch a weapon or fly a mission, every member of the team, from the pilots and flight engineers to the tactical officer and the sensor operators must be on the plane and performing their roles flawlessly or the crew qualification isn't earned or maintained.
"In an active-duty squadron, every member of the crew is available every day to train together. In a Reserve squadron, we have one or two weekends a month," said Heisler. "If someone gets sick and misses a drill weekend that could delay qualification as a crew, which of course impacts the training plan for the following month. To deal with this, we went to two drill weekends, and everyone is giving their all to make sure everything goes right. VP-62 is one team, one fight. Our Reservists and our full-time-support members are willing to give up two weekends a month with their families to make sure we are 100 percent ready to do our jobs on our deployment or any mission we may be tasked with. That is the spirit and execution of Active-Reserve integration."
The squadron had varied milestones over the last few months. They completed Advanced Readiness Program, Operational Readiness Evaluation, Fleet NATOPS Evaluation Team inspection, Conventional Weapons Refresher Training, Conventional Weapons Technical Proficiency Inspection and then begin the first iteration of VP Reserve mobilization and deployment cycles.
With all these requirements, the preparations for this mobilization started last year. VP-62 participated in the 23rd biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise where they flew nearly 50 hours and achieved more than a dozen advanced readiness qualifications, including a live fire exercise.
"We successfully fired a live Maverick missile against a decommissioned target ship as part of a large, joint, live-fire exercise," said Cmdr. Kris Moorhead, one of VP-62's mission commanders at RIMPAC. "It is a very rare opportunity for us to get live ordnance in a training environment, so this has been a fantastic training exercise for the aircrew and maintenance personnel.
"We also dropped a torpedo on an undersea target sled," Moorhead said. "Most of our events were focused on ASW and it was great training. We coordinated our ASW efforts with P-3s from several countries, ASW helicopters, and the newest ASW patrol aircraft, the P-8 Poseidon."
For more news from Patrol Squadron 62, visit www.navy.mil/local/vp62/.
Source: By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist William Lovelady, NAVAL AIR STATION JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- navy.mil News – 6 June 2013
Photo: The U.S. Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion Long Range ASW Aircraft Misawa, Japan (Feb. 13, 2003) -- A P-3C “Orion” assigned to the “Golden Eagles” of Patrol Squadron Nine (VP-9) circles Mt. Fuji. VP-9 is forward deployed to Misawa, Japan. ( U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Elizabeth L. Burke.)