HONOLULU — Two sub-hunting and surveillance Navy jet planes have reached Hawaii with a mission of protecting the isles.
The arrival of the P-8A Poseidon jets extends a Navy maritime presence that started on Oahu in the 1920s, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.
The planes brought three crews from Whidbey Island, Washington, for a continuous presence that will see Whidbey crews rotate through Hawaii for two to three months at a time, the Navy stated. The planes are part of a patrol squadron called the “Skinny Dragons,” which was based on Oahu for many years before leaving in March 2016.
It’s not the first time since their move that the jets have come through Hawaii, but it’s their first deployment here, the Navy stated.
The planes will be based at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay until work starts in late fall on the base’s runway, then will move to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
“As a former Hawaii-based squadron, VP-4 is excited to be back,” squadron Executive Officer Cmdr. Christopher Purcell said. “The Skinny Dragons have returned as the first maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadron on the West Coast to fly the P-8 Poseidon aircraft.”
Purcell said the jets will “support standing U.S. Pacific Command homeland defense requirements around Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast.”
The P-8 is a derivative of the Boeing 737-800 for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The jets can carry missiles and torpedoes.
It is capable of broad-area maritime and littoral operations and is being paired with the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle to expand coverage across the vast reaches of the Pacific.
The jets can fly at a top altitude of 41,000 feet, up to 560 mph, and can range as far as 4,500 miles from base without refueling.