Home » Air » Sensors Aid P-8 Crew in Airliner Search

Sensors Aid P-8 Crew in Airliner Search

by Brendan McGarry on March 20, 2014


The U.S. Navy is relying on its new maritime patrol aircraft’s radar and infrared sensors to help scour a swath of ocean for the missing Malaysian airliner, officials said.

The service’s P-8 Poseidon, designed to hunt submarines, arrived in Perth, Australia, this week from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 widened to the southern Indian Ocean amid satellite imagery of possible debris.

The search for Flight 370, which went missing March 8 about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport on a flight to Beijing, is the naval plane’s first high-profile international mission.

The twin-engine P-8A, a military version of the Boeing 737–800, is one of six such aircraft the Navy stationed in Okinawa, Japan, in recent months as part of the Pentagon’s shift in strategic emphasis to the Asia-Pacific region.

The plane is outfitted with sensors well-suited to searching for personnel or debris on the surface of the sea, including an AN/APY-10 surveillance radar made by Raytheon Co. and MX-series electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) camera made by L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., officials said.

“The radar can alert a crew that something abnormal exists on the surface of the ocean, whether it be a ship, a life raft, or a small object,” Cmdr. William Marks, a spokesman for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in an e-mail. “Then the EO/IR camera can provide the visual picture, acting as the eyes of the crew, day or night.”

He added, “The combination of radar and EO/IR is a significant enhancement over a visual search, as it increases the area of coverage and the probability that a feature on the ocean’s surface will be detected,” Marks said.

Also found on military drones and aerostats, L-3’s MX-20 sensors are high-definition imaging systems, with 2 megapixel zoom, and other features.

“If suspect debris were spotted, the aircraft would more than likely use the EO/IR camera at close range to identify exactly what was detected and would provide the necessary information to lead salvage ships to the wreckage,” Marks said.

In a recent report, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester said the aircraft can’t perform its primary missions such as hunting submarines or conducting broad-area surveillance due in part to “sensor shortfalls.” A Boeing official said many of the issues identified were related to software that has since been fixed.


The nine-crew P-8, which has a range of about 1,200 nautical miles, last week joined the search for the airliner to assist its Cold War-era predecessor, a P-3C Orion made by Lockheed Martin Corp., which has a range of about 2,400 nautical miles and is still operating out of the Malaysian capital.”

While the P-3 has a longer range, as well as radar, infrared and night-vision cameras, the P-8 is faster, with a top speed of 564 miles per hour, and can generally spend more time searching a site, Marks said.

“The missions are generally scheduled to be airborne for 9–10 hours total, including any time spent transiting to and from the search area,” he said. “In order to reach an outer search areas, the P-8A can transit up to 900-1200NM, still leaving 3–4 hours to conduct the search prior to returning to base.”

LaToya Graddy, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Systems Command, agreed, saying, “The aircraft’s dash speed and transit time has to be taken in consideration,” when comparing performance differences between the P-3 and P-8.

The international search for the Malaysian airliner ended on Thursday with aircraft crews finding no sign of the two objects spotted by a commercial satellite. The search is expected to resume Friday morning.

Share |

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

blight_ March 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Beats the guy in binos looking out the window.


Robbie March 20, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Is the P-8 air-refuelable?


Ronnie March 20, 2014 at 4:34 pm

The guy with the binos is


Deuterium2H March 20, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Hello Robbie,

Yes. It has a receptacle in the upper forward fuselage (just aft of the ****pit) to accept a flying boom type refueling system, as is used by the USAF.


Steve March 21, 2014 at 1:55 am

its there but the navy has deferred testing it and getting it cleared for use. So no inflight re-fuel till probably late 2016.


hibeam March 20, 2014 at 5:05 pm

I would have guessed hinder. Thanks for the update.


hibeam March 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm

With a 1200NM range we can protect San Francisco Bay and most of the Gulf of Mexico.


Deuterium2H March 20, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Hello Hibeam,

That doesn't take into account it's aerial refueling capability. Aerial refueling effectively doubles it's range, and allows approx. 22 hours flight time, which is limited by the engine oil consumption.


badbadleroybrown March 20, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Why is it not possible to solve that issue? If you can refuel, surely you can refill the oil capacity. I'm sure I am missing something important but really just want to know.


ronaldo March 20, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Sure enough bblrb, it is not practical. Remember that this is a commercial airframe. If you have seen any contemporary engine nacelle design you would quickly see there is not a single square centimeter available for the plumbing to handle an oil replenishment system.

But let's assume that you could extend the flight time to a greater than 22 hours length. What would that buy you ? I assure you that the crew is totally wasted after a mere 22 hours on duty, the food for the 22 hours has run out, the lavatory is full, and every one needs to get home and get some serious rest. 22 hour pilot shift ? Hah ! That exceeds the FAA and (probably Navy) minimum rest standards.

Even cargo dogs wouldn't sign up for that, no ?


hibeam March 20, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Thanks. I feel better now. 1200nm doesn't cut the mustard. They should have mentioned that in the article.


SuperGuest March 20, 2014 at 9:16 pm

They should have mentioned that almighty hibeam doesn't think 1200nm is enough?


hibeam March 20, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Its not enough. That's why its air refuel-able. Try to keep up.

ronaldo March 21, 2014 at 5:30 pm

No, frankly they shouldn't have. Do not measure the quality of an article without including your ignorance on the basic subject and aircraft mission.


Steve March 21, 2014 at 1:57 am

its there but the navy has deferred testing it and getting it cleared for use. So no inflight re-fuel till probably late 2016.


MacK March 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Was this release a positive show of effort to find that down aircraft or a PR release to justify the expensive of their new Subhunter that doesnt perform as well as the old one?


JAXMAN March 27, 2014 at 11:09 am

PR is good, testing the platform and working out the bugs is better. What new system has not had it's glitches ????


Vikka March 20, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Indian navy has committed 2 p-8 for the search. Great reports coming out about planes performance.


Ben March 20, 2014 at 7:59 pm

It might have something to do with the fact that they're not hunting subs.


ronaldo March 20, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Do you know something about that missing 777 that the rest of us don't ?


blight_ March 21, 2014 at 11:53 am

The MAD wouldn't do much good finding an airplane fuselage in deep water.

If anything, it advances the initial argument about the new role of maritime patrol aircraft being more than just subhunting. However, P-8 and P-3 are perhaps equally powerless to find the missing jet. By now there shouldn't be much of anything afloat, and it's a game for USubV's and long-duration submarines. I suppose the Seawolf or the Jimmy Carter (and the now long-gone NR-1) would be appropriate for this mission. Alvin and other minisubs need surface ships to bracket the ocean floor with sonar before going into the drink to pick stuff up.


hibeam March 20, 2014 at 11:29 pm

A turn to the left followed by disaster. Seems to be going around.


JohnnyRanger March 21, 2014 at 8:57 am

That is good. That is very, very good.


blight_ March 21, 2014 at 11:50 am

A hibeam post met with accolades!

Coincides with the second day of spring. Is hibeam turning a new leaf? News at ten.


oblatt22 March 21, 2014 at 5:48 am

The bottom line is that the P-3 is more effective and can search more sea than the P-8.

The P-8 was designed down to a lower specification at a higher price to maintain contractors profit margins.

When P-3 crews are taking off at 8:30am for the search no doubt they give a friendly wave to the P-8 folks in the maintenance shed who will have their aircraft ready by 4pm


Tanker March 21, 2014 at 9:00 am

It isn't clear how a plane with 2400 nm range can go out 1200 nm (and presumably come back) and still have 3-4 hrs on station.


EW3 March 21, 2014 at 10:40 am

You're right


Curt March 22, 2014 at 4:49 pm

The article has numerous errors.

The P-3 and P-8 have roughly the same endurance. Namely 4hrs on station at 1200nm from base. So if the area is closer, the P-3C will have more time on station, further away and the P-8A has the advantage. Feel free to check the NAVAIR website. Of course specific search time all depends on altitude, speed, transit distance, etc. But figure they are roughly the same.


Jack Murphy March 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm

It does not have in flight refueling it is a highly modified 737-800 with a -900 wing ( Greater lift ) the numbers are straight out of Boeings announcement as far as the numbers are concerned. To the remark about the P-3 Vs the 737 a few facts are in order Sout-West Airlines is a exclusive airline useing 737-800 with a 99% dispatch rate. Show me 1 aircraft that dod owns with that high a dispatch rate? It is a 2 man cockpit with 7 operators in bak the P-3 has 4 operators in back with no blue tooth no internet capability and over50 years of age:Role Maritime patrol aircraft First flight November 1959 Introduction August 1962 It basicly was a Lockheed Electra that was treated like the Boeing Model 80….the 737 is a great aircraft flying with almost every airline in the worls so parts are never a hard time…experienced manpower for maint and upkeep are available everywhere. 1of the few smart things done by the dod……imho..


Mambo March 21, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Yes it does have in-flight refueling. They start in-flight refueler training in 2015.


LeoC March 22, 2014 at 11:39 am

Per Wiki: In-flight refueling is via a receptacle on top of the forward fuselage, just aft of the cockpit. This receptacle will receive a flying boom that is typically used to refuel United States Air Force aircraft, as opposed to the hose-and-drogue system used by other USN aircraft.


EW3 March 21, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I know this is very thin, but 1200 NM mile range seems too short. Found this is wiki –

"The 737-700ER is a mainline passenger version of the BBJ1 and 737-700IGW. It combines the 737-700 fuselage with the wings and landing gear of a 737-800. It offers a range of 5,510 nautical miles"

My point is that the 737 is capable of much greater then 1200 nm range. The way the spec on some websites says the range is 1200 nm with 4 hours over target area, makes me think the range is 2400 nm round trip with 4 hour loiter time.


Curt March 22, 2014 at 4:50 pm

It says the same thing on the NAVAIR site.


Mike baaisden March 22, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Do you know if submarines are being employed in the search now that the search area is being narrowed?


scott March 24, 2014 at 9:34 am

im sure it would make it a little easier i guess


oblatt22 March 24, 2014 at 3:47 am

Marine helicopter carriers would be the ideal way to search and the Marines are ready to deploy in 5 months and after the aircraft has been found.


Rob C. March 24, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I think they still have while ago to make the P-8 better than P-3. The P-3's props can allow the plane to loiter above area allot longer than a Jet liner turn patrol aircraft. The P-8 may look impressive on paper and have allot more advanced equipment, i just don't think it living up to what they need to do the job of the older plane. Software fixes or not.


Andy April 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Man, this quote, combined with the F-35 thing. This country is done:
In a recent report, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester said the aircraft can’t perform its primary missions such as hunting submarines or conducting broad-area surveillance due in part to “sensor shortfalls.”

Read more: http://defensetech.org/2014/03/20/sensors-aid-p-8


Modern Artists June 15, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Newer technologies and advanced tools have made it possible for cosmetic
surgeons to carry out the highly delicate surgical procedures with more confidence and mitigated risk factors.
In recent years the term “mommy-makeover” has become more common. The physical and external benefits are very obvious.


clarisonic skincare system sale July 25, 2014 at 12:41 am

Body scrubs are one of the easiest homemade beauty products to make.
Oils such as jojoba, linseed, evening primrose,
and shea butter moisturizes. Heating dries up the hair, which can also create a lot of problems for your


best hcg ultra drops August 16, 2014 at 8:24 am

The first week, you get acquainted with your new routine, and the end of
the diet seems so far away. Let these mistakes be your motivation for enhancing your body
further. It is though because you just need to take drops timely and live the way you are doing.


Boca Raton free CPA supplies August 18, 2014 at 9:17 pm

You can really help most of your clients by helping them use financial statements as a
basis for making better business decisions. 6) Easy export and import:
- A tax preparer can easily import W-2, Schedule D, Trial balance
and Year-end balance, as well as forms like child’s form 8615 and K-1 data from 1041,
1120S, and 1065 are easily exportable. For conducting the additional analysis on the specific CPA network,
which will assist you to earn funds, all you want to do is you will need to place in the identify of
that network along with some other applicable keyword phrases that could possibly assist you in discovering out if
there is any precise challenge with that individual organization.


hcg weight loss homeopathic August 18, 2014 at 9:46 pm

The best part is you do not have to deny your sweet tooth using these quick weight loss
diets. Physically, because it wrecks havoc to your body systems that have
to attune different metabolic, circulatory and gastrointestinal
processes in between relatively short periods of time.
Oz does not endorse the diet and believes that it is not effective for long term weight loss, but he does believe that some times
the experience of real people has not caught up with
science for documentation.


cheap yoga pants plus size August 21, 2014 at 7:17 am

It improves heart health insurance and makes your entire entire body feel great.
These exercises were recommended for them to tone the vaginal muscles in order to reshaping them and to strengthen the weakened bladder.
They are application software in which generates the sheets where
sprites are organized.


Plastic Surgery Nose Cost August 22, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Somewhere in the middle is your best option as it is not too expensive
nor will the surgeon take an excessive amount of time to complete the job.

How do shooting is getting worse, falls into folds and the chin line to create an area of the jaw,
jaw lines, marionette. If you need 3 Laser – Lyte Peels
then Phase 3 will not begin until 5-6 months.


ft north fort lauderdale plumbers August 26, 2014 at 9:01 am

Once more, you will find just a lot of things that you do
not know or need to know. However, screws should be countersunk and covered
to create a neat exterior appearance. For instance, in preparing for foods, knives might be


Boca Raton CPA equipment August 28, 2014 at 1:47 am

The Maharashtra State Tax on Professions, Trades, Callings and Employments Act, 1975 mentions that:
. Most of all, these business owners ensure that aside from core functions in their company,
that the people and other downstream resources are given the
right treatment all the time. This is an agreement with the IRS to settle your debt by paying less than the full amount.


lasercap tummy tuck before and after September 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm

They want you to come to the salon on a regular basis so they tell you that you need to get a haircut every four to six weeks,
but it’s just a way for them to make more money.
Electrolysis – Electrolysis is a solution which utilizes a needle to kill the hair at its root.
Such devices as KTP, ERBIUM, Pulse DYE and Alexandrite have short
length of laser light waves, and they are very effective for removing unwanted hair on a light colored skin.


document storage companies in india September 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm

These services are designed to make your moving experience a good one.

One of the most important items to have for those
who regularly maintain their grass is a lawnmower.
It must be active in the moving industry for more than ten years.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: