Report: Navy’s New Submarine Hunter Doesn’t Work

P-8torpedoThe U.S. Navy’s next generation submarine hunter isn’t any good yet at hunting enemy submarines, according to recent Defense Department tests first reported on by Bloomberg.

A report filed by Michael Gilmore, chief of the Pentagon testing office, stated that the P-8A Poseidon exhibited flaws in the “plane’s radar performance, sensor integration and data transfer,” according to Bloomberg reporter Tony Capaccio, who received an early version of Gilmore’s report.

The U.S. Navy has spent about $35 billion on the P-8. The reported stated that the aircraft, which was built to replace the P-3 Orion, is not yet deployable, according to Gilmore’s report.

The Navy ran the P-8 through strenuous combat testing from September 2012 to March 2013. Results of those tests led Gilmore to conclude that the P-8 “is not effective for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission and is not effective for wide area anti-submarine search,” according to the Bloomberg report.

U.S. officials outfitted a Boeing 737-800 with sensors capable of tracking submarines to produce the P-8. The Navy expected the P-8 to replace the P-3 and effectively track Chinese submarines.

The Navy plans to buy 113 of the P-8. So far, Boeing has delivered 13 of the aircraft.

Navy leaders told Bloomberg they are aware of the problems discovered in the P-8 and are working on software solutions to those problems.

60 Comments on "Report: Navy’s New Submarine Hunter Doesn’t Work"

  1. So I'm hoping these bugs have been found as part of the developmental / operational testing process as opposed from actual production / operational use? If so, while it's not good news, that's what DT/OT is for.

    (Sure hope we haven't gone past the P-3's end of service life quite yet… they may need to stick around a while longer.)

  2. To be fair, how is P-3 going to fare any better by similar metrics?

  3. The p3 has MAD which the p8 doesn’t

  4. P8 has no MAD? Aint that essential anymore when hunting subs via plane? Any ideas why?

  5. P-8 has a MAD. The USN variant doesnt, the IN variant does,

  6. In the meantime i read elsewhere that a MAD is only effective on close range and with a sub thats not too deep so i guess the other methods could be more effective. But if the indian variant still has one it seems a MAD is not obsolete yet.

  7. Another great performance by the military-industrial complex. But hey, they got their money, don’t they?!

  8. So we cant build fighters, we cant build ships, we cant build sub hunter aircraft, we cant build ground combat vehicles. Is there a single program in last ten years that hasnt turned into a unusable pile of crap?

    The DoD and Defense Contractors way of doing business needs to change.

  9. JamcaicanMeAfraid | January 24, 2014 at 8:30 am | Reply

    The reliance on software is simply overwhelming. There needs to be a huge and I mean huge change in the structure of software and they way it is deployed into these aircraft not to mention everything else we interact with on a daily basis anymore.

  10. No no no – this is not about quality deployment. This is all a huge effort in information warfare. See here's how this works: we build a tonne of crap and then our adversaries steal the plans. In the background in some super secret lair the real stuff is being worked on. Kind of like a bat cave. So don't worry, we're simply suckering our new adversary (china) into stealing a bunch of useless information which then will be used in a new cold war scenario to make them go broke as well.

  11. I think we should cancel this program just before it goes into production and let Boeing bid on the next great sub hunter airplane development program.

  12. So much for hunting enemy subs, stick with P3 it can loiter longer.

  13. Just curious if the P-8, with all these announced flaws, can even hold a candle to what the P-3 and S-3 can/did do in their last builds…?

    For shame, Boeing.
    What the f… you think this is, another corporate welfare program so you can keep under-performing engineers and project managers on your books?

    And…oh look, concerns over the KC-46 not measuring up, too???

  14. A lot of UNINFORMED armchair wankers posting. Boeing had the same system integration problems with the Wedge Tail. What does a MAD boom have to do with ISR? There are already Drone underwater robotics and detectors.

    The biggest problem is that Boeing cant built anything without paying politicians to look the other way and cheat on tanker contracts. Google Mike Sears and Darlene Druyan.

  15. Bring back the S-3.

  16. Every new system has its teething problems and armchair critics. Go back and read the things that were written about the B-17 back in the '30s, and that seems to have turned out pretty well. The P-3 wasn't anybody's darling when it debuted in the early '60s either. The Orion Airliner that it was based on seemed to have a problem with the wings falling off in flight, if I remember correctly. Kind of makes a "systems integration problem" a comparatively minor issue in my mind.

  17. So, will Gilmore be looking for a new job or will he be promoted?

  18. Simply put, weapons acquisition programs have become just another source of pork for the illustrious members of our beloved Congress. That's why production is spread across as many states as possible, and why so many new systems (such as the LCS) apparently need multiple companies to produce them.

  19. People complain about the lack of MAD on the P8 but when you cant hunt submarines you don't need MAD anyways.

  20. Next up tankers that cant deliver fuel.

  21. Didn't I just get downvoted on the last article for saying that we're too overconfident in our anti-submarine capabilities?

    AMERICA…. oh wait.

  22. I worked on P-3s and S-3s and the P-3 was great you could stay on your mission even is 2 engines went down. If one engine goes on the P-8 it's time tolimp home. Everyone wants something new and exspensive instead of upgrades which is less than half the cost of a new plane. The S-3 still has half of it's life left on it. The P-3 has a new SLEP kit that would replace the wings,center wing box Leading Edges, Horizontal Stab and Vertical Stab Leading Edge (Cheap) and adds 12,000 more flight hours to the aircraft.

  23. The whole idea of the P-8 is that some Navy Admirals hated having a propeller driven plane in use and wanted all jet Navy So they pushed this plane over in services. Gasp, It isn't working as well as these navy men hoped for. Like every plane it has bugs when entering mass production.

    I hope too the P-3 will serve for a long time it didn't need to be replaced and is a good ASW platform.

  24. Qualified submarine sonar (BQQ-6), here. You can hear the low-flying prop planes when they're close. Can't hear the high-flying jets.

  25. People. Chill. The report that Bloomberg is quoting is a year old. The first production P-8s weren't delivered to operational squadrons til the middle of last year. P-8's have deployed to WestPac recently. FWIW – We tested the C model P-3 in Key West for years getting the bugs out.

  26. I am truly lost…. I don't know what to believe anymore.

  27. "Results of those tests led Gilmore to conclude that the P-8 “is not effective for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission and is not effective for wide area anti-submarine search,” according to the Bloomberg report." ….Like they didn't know before production was started? There had to be comparison tests to the old systems to justify the new ones…. This is a totally asinine statement….. Wonder why the defense budget is out of control…. Add this with all the other BS spending within the defense department and without…. What a travesty! With all the management departments that obviously are either incompetent or just down right lazy, or both….

  28. Are the “failures” due to the aircraft/equipment or is it due to the lack of ASW experience that the current operators have? I was fortunate to have been flying as a Special Projects SS1 in the late ’80’s and into the early ’90’s. After ’91, the acoustic operators role all but disappeared unless we were flying on our own subs. After my first sea tour and shore duty, I saw that ASW was all but dead and went to the HS platform.

    You can’t put 100% of the blame on the aircraft when the operators haven’t ever seen a real world contact. WST’s don’t count either . The combination of a real world contact and the added rigors of flight make a huge difference.

    We all can agree that the P-3 was a tried and true platform. The MAD/No MAD argument is valid. The more tools you give the operator, the more successful they will be. I believe that there are issues with the MOSA of the P-8 where she can’t go low enough for the MAD to be effective.

    Regardless , over the past 20 years, the mission of the Patrol Squadrons changed dramatically. Hopefully, the Navy can adapt to the current threat .

  29. quick, sell it to a Chinese spy!

  30. What's very clear is that the Navy had given up the ASW mission for the last 10 or more years. So it's going to take time to rebuild that collective intelligence and capability

    So, I'm going to withhold final judgement on the P-8 for awhile

    But here's what else is abundantly clear
    -We need to bring back carrier bases ASW, bring back the S-3! China is rising and we'll need that capability for very fast and long range CBG ASW protection
    -Secondly, we need ASW Frigates NOW! The only way the LCS will every find a sub is when the torpedo blows it to kingdom come. The FFG class is soon gone, the Navy has neglected them badly. So we need a dedicated ASW/escort type of Frigate. Perhaps something akin to the Knox class but with a modern plant and ESSM.
    -Lastly, build more subs, build more subs, build more subs. The best sub hunter is another sub and that will always be true. We currently have a huge edge over China here and that is THE only reason they haven't made a major move. Sub are the only true stealth platform out there (sorry air force) and they are persistent, deadly, and very versatile. Nothing else comes close for sea control

  31. P-8 has jet engines its too fast to detect submarines, even if you add the MAD Magnetic Anomaly Detector its the wrong design to replace the P-3.

  32. Heard it myself | January 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Reply

    I sat there and listened as a P3 admiral spoke of the P8 program. “The navy has spent way too much money and resources to allow this program to fail”.

  33. The way I see it, we have a lot of yeas, and a lot of nays. And it seems that the yeas, from a practical point, don't know what they are saying. And the nays are saying that why get rid of something that has worked good for years, and that everyone knows. Well, having worked in the Marines in R&D for enough time, I think that I can say that no system works perfect from the get-go. They all have some bugs to work out, whether they be programing, hardware, or usage. Just look at the WWII Corsair, that plane could not land on a flight deck normally. It had to land in a turn, not straight in. I could go on and on, but each piece of gear is unique and it's personality must be discovered.

  34. I worked/taught ASW on both P3A & A-New (P3C) systems. Both had bugs that were ironed out. NO system is 100% when it hits the fleet.

  35. What happened to the P4, P5, P6 and P7?

  36. I'm sure Ed Palmer (RIP) would not be happy with the programs poor progress…
    I'm also sure, if it were possible, he'd be turning over about now.

  37. The P-7 was to be the replacement for the P-3. The Navy was ready to announce the contract on a Friday evening. In the afternoon, Lockheed CEO Mickey Blackwell learned he would be underselling each aircraft delivered. What he didn't learn was that Mods, Supply chain, Tech Data changes, ie Customer Support would make up the profit. Mickey pulled out of the deal. The Navy was extremely pissed. The better parts of the P-7 were carried over to the C-130 and became the C-130J. Had the P-7 not been cancelled, the entire fleet would have been operational today for many years. There would have been commonality of parts an support with the C-130J. So a number of years went by, the Navy got the 737 they wanted to keep their pilots, especially reserve 737 airline pilots , happy. The 737 became the P-8. And now we have a huge waste of money, an airplane that doesn't work, and are years down the road. Oh by the way, the C-17 followed a similar gestation period when the USAF turned down the Lockheed proposal in the CX competition. Boeing/McD "won" and within a year it was learned they couldn't deliver on schedule. So USAF asked Lockheed to propose, build, and deliver 50 C-5B's. Which happened on schedule and all 50 were delivered before the first C-17 was ready for first flight. Deja vu all over again! Can't wait for the next details of the new 767 tanker!!!

  38. Does anyone remember the P-7 program, the original replacement proposed for the P-3. After lengthy study testing and numerous proposals from many contractors, from Boeing to Gulfstream, Lockheed was selected to develop the new ASW/ Maritime patrol aircraft. All of the other airframes were rejected because it was determined the High Bypass Fan engine was deem unsuitable for the envelope in which most ASW, maritime patrol and surveillance missions are conducted. The P-7 was to be a new airframe larger yet similar in appearance to the P-3. It was to incorporate composite materials to cut weight while adding armored protection for vulnerable systems, resealing fuel tanks, larger engines and a glass cockpit. All of that is history, it now up to the operators to make the P-8 work, ASW is still as much art as science.

  39. Bring back the OTs (Ocean System Techs). We sought, found the subs, and led the friendly aircraft to the enemy subs- and we did it well!

  40. Remember, the important thing is not if it ever works or not, but how much profit it squeezed out of the taxpayer. Whether it works or not will not stop the pentagon from buying it. We have a lot of Admirals, and Generals, that will need cushy high paying jobs when they retire. The war suppliers will remember which ones made them the most money. I would suggest we make a law that no former military officer be allowed to hire on to a weapons company for at lest twenty years after they retire. It might save us billions in faulty merchandize being bought by the Pentagon.

  41. If you want to do some real ASW you need to fly low, mainly for 2 reasons: the new submarines are so quiet and range is so low so you need pinpoint accuracy when dropping buoys. This is impossible from 5000 feet plus. Second using MAD is a great asset, and really works.
    Thrust me, I have been tracking russian submarines for many years (20+), and i REALLY doubt the P-8 can do this…
    We (Norway) are getting new wings on our P-3C UIP, and will continue to track russian subs many years.
    I love tracking subs, and it was a sad day when I heard the next ASW platform will be a 737….

  42. The only effective ASW platform is another submarine. We used to shoot flares into the sky so P-3's could find us. Cancel the program and save the money.

  43. Wow, if you read the original article in Bloomberg, you kind of get a different view of the P-8A. lets see,

    "Gilmore spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said the test office concluded the aircraft was effective in providing small-area searches similar to the P-3C Orion it’s replacing.

    The aircraft also is effective in conducting “unarmed anti-surface warfare missions,” and its radar and supporting sensors “provide an effective, all-weather surface target search,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

    Gilmore’s office also concluded the airframe is reliable, offering “significant improvements in hardware reliability, maintainability and availability” over the P-3C, she said. Overall, the Boeing system “provides increased range, payload and speed,” she said."

    So basically, although it has/had some issues with the Radar and ESM systems, also discussed in the Bloomberg article, it was assessed as a significantly better platform than the P-3.

  44. Just fix it and move on. Old stuff is never going to last forever. (except B-52's) The decision was made and now get the job done. Boeing needs to get on the stick and end the game with the politicos.

  45. Bring back ASW airships.

  46. Diesel-electric subs are the only true stealth platform in the water.

  47. Kim Wolfersperger | January 28, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Reply

    Sounds like a J Model now,doesn't it?

  48. Having been there and done that within the P-3 and associated aircraft squadrons, you are NOT going to read the CLASSIFIED version on the internet. Be smart.

  49. The navy should back to the P-2 or P-5 those old planes can walk all over the P-3 / P-8

  50. Better look at the Japanese US2 seaplane!

  51. I am begining to believed we might import from china for better plane since people think our products are bunch of craps. We do make lot of babies with a cell phone upon birth and c.b.t. Card issued by Obamas help the poor. And also a lighter to lite the pot they are going to smoke and free birth control pills given by Uncle Sam

  52. Dumb question, could a C-130 be used to carry ASW gear instead?

    If the P-8 goes south, wondering if Lockmart could try pushing a C-130 based solution

  53. Will we ever stop our borderline paranoia we have developed I this nation. The world is incapable of defeating the last two generations of weapons we have yet we continue to waste more and more on weapons we don't need. Ike warned us but we still haven't listened!


  55. Speaking of LCS's as a footnote the XO of the program just got promoted to a one star. Maybe the clown who is in charge of the P8 program will get three stars or retire and get a seat on the board of Bong/Bong Inc. MMCS(SS)(SW) USN Ret.

  56. I Will like to See The Hunters badges whit the dog on, i have seen it on Thule air base,

  57. It’s awesome in support of me to have a web page,
    which is helpful designed for my knowledge. thanks admin

  58. Thanks , I have recently been looking for information about
    this topic for a while and yours is the greatest I’ve found
    out so far. However, what in regards to the bottom line?
    Are you sure about the source?

  59. Frank X. Acevedo | August 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm | Reply

    I was an Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Technician in the U.S. Navy in 1964-66. While in VS-22 I worked on the AN/ASQ-8 and -10 (MAD). The detection range of the ASQ-8 was approximately 1000 feet. FYI

  60. Frank X. Acevedo | August 6, 2014 at 11:28 pm | Reply

    I was an Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Technician (AX2) in VS-22 from 1964 to 1966. I worked on the AN/ASQ-8 and -10 (MAD). The effective range of the Magnetic Anomaly Detector was approximately 1000 feet for the -8 model.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.