Thursday, October 27, 2011

PMA-290 State of the Union/Status of the "Mighty Orion"

Martin Ahmad, PMA 290 principal deputy program manager, is up next to discuss the state of PMA-290.

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)'s PMA-290 manages the acquisition, development, support and delivery of the Navy's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft.
Ahmad said it is a very fast-paced time with the PMA-290. The organization and work it is doing is complex. The PMA-290 is located at Patuxent River, Md. It focuses on current airframes, retiring airframes, international communities and new aircraft development.

One of the biggest things affecting the P-3 community today is the transition of the Navy's use of P-3s to the P-8. As Navy transitions between airframes, Ahmad said the P-3 team must focus on retaining its community's intellectual capital and the P-8 team needs to take advantage of lessons learned by the P-3 program.

Ahmad said NAVAIR is moving toward a warfighting vision focused on a smaller, more common, more networked, more effective force. While there is more emphasis on unmanned components, there is still a need to have a manned capability for ISR missions.

From a P-3 program overview, the P-3 fleet priorities include safety/pilot proficiency, ASW and readiness. PMA priorities include depot turnaround time, aircraft reliability and program execution. Moving forward, the top P-3 challenges are P-3 sustainment, avionic mods coordination and transition planning. Ahmad said there are no guarantees the P-8 acquisition will happen with considering budgeting, so it's important to keep the P-3 operational as long as possible.

There's a lot of work left to be done with P-3 aircraft sustainment. "This is what makes it challenging," Ahmad said. He then discussed the P-8 program, its milestones and what capabilities it provides.

The discussion then moved on to the EP-3E program overview. The aircraft's capabilities have proven to be a huge benefit for the entire fleet, Ahmad said. 
MPRA overview followed, which is probably one of the largest programs, size and dollarwise for NAVAIR. Excellent work on Taiwan and Pakistan, but needs to replan Pakistan program due to recent May attacks on Karachi. Other countries have expressed interest in obtaining P-3 contracts similar to the Taiwan/Pakistan P-3s. Australia/P-8 transition continues as well.

Ahmad ended his portion of the presentation with a slide that emphasized the need to have aircraft platform commonality to reduce costs and increase capabilities. One MPRA family in support of the fleet.
In summary, NAVAIR's focus is on these key areas:  
  • P-3: Supporting the fleet with relevant warfighting capability while planning transition
  • P-8: Conducting integrated test, initiating increments, starting fleet transition
  • EP-3: Advancing capability, planning capability recap
  • International: Active support of international partners, developing plans for required support in the future
Ahmad concluded by thanking everyone for their support of their work to support PMA-290.

The presentation was then turned over to Capt. Aaron Rondeau, P-3 Department Head - PMA 290, who spoke on the "Status of the 'Mighty Orion.'"

Rondeau said there's a lot of P-3 work left to complete. Outer wing and center wing installation underway and that will go through FY 2014. Upgrading a majority of AIP fleet to AIP+ - giving P-3 fleet Link 16 capability, which has been in demand. P-3s are also receiving INMARSAT and TacView Software. Some upgrades also include high frequency radio, acoustic receiver tech refresh (ARTR) and acoustic processor tech refresh (APTR).

Since 2005, 118 P-3s have been periodically grounded for fatigue. Rondeau said he likes to remind leadership of this number to keep funding available for the P-3 program.

Rondeau noted the worldwide P-3 community continues to deal with similar programs, including P-3 airframe condition, varying areas of fatigue, supply chain performance and depot performance. Safety also continues to be a focus, including propeller blade fairings, T-56 uncontained turbine failures and BMUP+ wire crimping.

The PMA-290 P-3 team is committed to ensuring mission success throughout transition, Rondeau said. This team is creating a transition guidebook to effectively and efficiently transition from P-3 to P-8.

In conclusion, Rondeau said he is committed to sustaining the P-3 until the P-8 arrives and beyond.

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