From Hawaii to Djibouti, P-3C unit helps counter violent extremist organizations
Patrol Squadron 9 (VP-9) Sailors have supported Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa during the past several months in an effort to counter violent extremist organizations (VEO).
The squadron, deployed from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, operates Lockheed Martin's P-3C Orion, a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime patrol aircraft. According to the official Navy website, the aircraft has evolved substantially during the past several decades and is capable of performing missions over land and sea.
"In the desert where there aren’t submarines or ships, we train the full scope of the aircraft's capabilities and apply them to the mission set" said Lt. j.g. Aaron Rosa, the VP-9 public affairs officer.
These capabilities allow Rosa and his team to integrate into the CJTF-HOA team and to counter VEOs in East Africa in support of CJTF-HOA’s mission.
"The HOA commanders and task-force commanders understand we provide a very valuable asset and have come to rely on us routinely," Rosa said.
Rosa said it's very satisfying to return from a mission and hear his unit was able to provide great information to the higher echelon commanders. Even if they never hear of an end result, the knowledge that they contributed to the operational goal is intrinsically rewarding, he said.
With a high-operations tempo, and conditions the aircraft is not normally exposed to for extended periods of time, the turboprop can be a challenge to maintain, making the VP-9 team all that more impressive.
“It’s a real credit to our maintainers, who keep all the avionics working smoothly. Given the sandy, arid, desert environment, it can be a challenge to keep them up and running,” Rosa said.
Rosa pointed out that they aren’t just an ordinary group of maintainers, but some of the best the Navy has to offer. The VP-9 “Golden Eagles” are recipients of the 2012 Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy, awarded annually to a ship or aircraft squadron, one in the Pacific Fleet and one in the Atlantic Fleet, which showed the greatest improvement during the preceding year in operational readiness, inspections, retention and improvement in the Battle Efficiency Award program.
They were recognized for more than 200,000 mishap-free flight hours. Rosa said he and his team look forward to continuing to have an impact on the mission in East Africa, with some of the Navy’s finest Sailors.