NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – It’s fundamental that NAVAIR programs balance acquisition performance, operational proficiency of their platforms, and multiple budgets and requirements against today’s threats, however, add cooperation and strategic partnership, as per national-level defense guidance, and it’s a challenge.
NAVAIR’s PMA-290 and the P-8A Poseidon (P-8A) Team are recognized for making significant contributions in international partnership with the Navy’s top award, the Acquisition Excellence Award for “International Acquisition Partnership, Oct. 16, 2018, during a ceremony at the Pentagon.
Notably, the platform, the P-8A Poseidon, is well-recognized for its forward-thinking acquisition strategy and multi-mission capabilities. Last year, the program office also accepted the DoD’s David Packard excellence in acquisition award, and the Dr. Al Somoroff award for outstanding business strategy.
“It’s not often one gets to sundown a 60-year old aircraft [the P-3C Orion (P-3)], while building another. The P-8A is expected to last at least as long as the legacy P-3.” said Capt. Tony Rossi, program manager. “We’ve had to adapt and change our culture from one of sustaining legacy aircraft to our current design and development of incremental capabilities, while simultaneously fielding replacement aircraft to support Fleet transition.
Rossi said, it takes the entire team to rethink core business operations, which includes everything from engineering to depot maintenance and the international sales strategy. The team is a combination of U.S. Navy, government and industry officials, and our international partners.
“The Foreign Military (FMS), US-Australia Joint Program Office (JPO) and US Navy parts of the team worked closely together to deliver the most affordable P-8A capability to all the countries” said Jack Vess, the PMA-290s Director of International Programs. “This teamwork will continue as the global P-8 community continues to grow.”
Since the initial P-8A aircraft production award, PMA-290 has embraced DoD’s Should Cost and Better Buying Power initiatives and effectively reduced production related costs by more than 30 percent saving the U.S. Navy more than $2.1billion.
FMS partners, such as the UK, Norway, and New Zealand benefit from those savings, which also includes an efficient plan for incremental upgrades, and sustainment. To date, there are 75 P-8A Poseidon aircraft delivered to the U.S. Navy fleet. The delivery strategy meets on-time and at budget requirements. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has received 7 aircraft. The U.K.’s RAF is scheduled to receive its first aircraft during 2019, and Norway receives its first aircraft during 2021. The New Zealand government has also recently agreed to buy four P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from the U.S.
The P-8A JPO and the RAAF P-8A Project Office have mutually executed the P-8A Cooperative Program since 2009. One example of the success of the program is found in the enhancement of the P-8A’s Search and Rescue (SAR) kit. The Australian’s unique mission and specialized requirements encouraged a more sophisticated kit, required some modifications to the aircraft design, however, the SAR mission was recognized during recent rescues and humanitarian missions.
The SAR capability is available for both countries to deploy, demonstrating the potential and mutual benefits of a cooperative program.
“I am very proud of the Australia’s to the success of the P-8A’s Cooperative Program. It’s an honor to be recognized by the Department of the Navy’s Acquisition Excellence Award for International Partnership,” said Wing Commander Nick Robertson, a RAAF officer stationed with the PMA-290 team at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. “Most importantly, our program’s success is built upon a foundation of teamwork, which was established over the past decade. It sets a solid basis for assuring the superiority of our airborne maritime capability, both now and into the future, which is a must in meeting our warfighter’s needs.”
As a joint program office with the RAAF, the production and sustainment process is further enriched according to Michael Sears, NAVAIR’s director of international programs. His office is responsible for resourcing the NAVAIR workforce with the tools it needs to adequately sustain international programs with personnel, products and services.
“This kind of recognition is important to NAVAIR as we look at supporting our international customers,” said Sears. “We are looking to reduce costs for all partners and the U.S. Navy through economies of scale.”
Sears said, “the P-8A Poseidon’s cooperative program fits into the SECDEF Mattis’ direction to strengthen partnerships and alliance, while also fulfilling the CNO Richardson’s direction to Expand and strengthen our network of partners, and deepening operational relationships with other military services, agencies, industry, allies and partners.
He said, international programs are about working together because of shared interests.