The U.S. Navy is sending a pair of advanced P-8 Poseidon sub-hunting aircraft to Hawaii amid rising tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.
The aircraft, militarized versions of the Boeing’s 737 model, will join Patrol Squadron VP-4, also known as the “Skinny Dragons,” where it is now temporarily deployed on a rotational basis.
One of the P-8’s primary missions is surveillance, but the planes do carry an array of additional capabilities and munitions to hunt and kill both submarines and ships. Also, they are capable of conducting airborne cyberwarfare operations.
“It is capable of carrying of five missiles, depth charges or torpedoes in a rotary launcher in the rear hull, and six more on underwing racks,” according to the National Interest.
The plane’s sophisticated sensor arrays can even be used for jamming or as a cyberwarfare platform. It has its own acoustic sensor and a hydrocarbon sensor that can literally “sniff” submarine fuel vapors from the atmosphere.
However, the Poseidon lacks the magnetic anomaly detector, or MAD, which is the primary way to detect submarines when flying at low altitudes. The MAD detects minute influences in the Earth’s magnetic field created by submarines, which are several-thousand-ton pieces of magnetic iron and steel. There are a number of explanations for such an exclusion, but none explains why the Indian-export version still has MAD onboard but the American version does not. Regardless, the Poseidon is designed to work in conjunction with a drone that can be equipped with MAD and send its readings back to the plane.
The planes are part of the Pentagon’s additional efforts to beef up U.S. military capabilities in an increasingly geopolitically and economically important part of the world.
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