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

The 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.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • Tim

    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.)

    • JDC

      should have let Northrop Grumman build it. Oh yes, and that little issue with the KC-46…….

  • blight_

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

    • Chuck Mock

      As an aircrew member, the P-3 and EP-3 has proven their worth and ability to adapt to changing senerios. As submarines have become quiter the sonobuoy and computer processing technology have advanced to keep pace with the improving technology. The only thing I would worry about is the airframe it self, and I believe the Navy is keeping up with that. There is several P-3 depot facilities. One for the Navy and one for overhauling P-3’s that the Navy sell to foreign countries. (FMS) When they leave those facilities, they are coming out as an “A” Condition Asset. (Brand New)

      • blight_

        Originally the P-8 was supposed to port over P-3 hardware; which would have made it perfectly reasonable. I’m not sure where the program has ended up since then, since it definitely lacks the MAD and is now supposed to have hydrocarbon sensors and other fancy doodads.

    • sailor12

      It can track a sub and communicate and has been doing it for years.

    • majr0d

      blight - you were asking if the SAME tests/standards are being applied to the P3 that the P8 is being measured against?

      Good question if so. Haven’t seen an answer

    • twomuch2luz

      it does it by the metric it was designed for. that is how. Flatly the deployed P-A does not. Another on time and budget failure. Fire the boss.

  • lpf

    The p3 has MAD which the p8 doesn’t

    • Brad Davis

      I was wondering about that. I knew.I didn’t see a MAD boom but I thought perhaps there is some new type of magnetic sensor,or perhaps that the type of steel being used in modern subs renders the MAD device obsolete.

  • Big-B

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

    • E_Khun

      To simple and effective. When you sell a MAD boom it’ll keep working for the next 50 years. If you sell ’em a software based gizmo you sell ’em an expensive contract for software updates and upgrades for the whole service life.

      • Frank

        The P-8 can carry a MAD. The US Navy did not wnat it. The Indian Air Force P-8’s are equiped with MAD however.

      • blight_

        I’m curious how the hydrocarbon sensor will replace the MAD, though I guess it depends on technology benchmarks.

        Perhaps if MAD systems get lighter, they may return. Who knows?

        • Steve

          What’s a MAD?

          • blight_

            Magnetic anomaly detector. Used in geology for detecting mineral deposits, and by navies to detect submarines.

          • haloguy628

            Magnetic Anomaly Detector. The long boom on the tail of the P3.

        • Rocku George

          Hydrocarbon detectors were installed on the P2 & P3A. They were removed because they were not a reliable system. Hydrocarbons caught in the atmosphere caused false detections. The P8 is another example of a weapon system forced into service in order for the Pentagon to save face.

          • blight_

            Indeed, considering the ocean is becoming a mass of plastic photodegrading under the UV of the sun, I imagine the background emission of hydrocarbons is going up in the open ocean.

            I guess SOSUS and systems like it will be our saving grace in the Pacific.

    • El_Sid

      All engineering is compromise. In this case the USN gave up the MAD on their P-8s when it was struggling to achieve its weight/range targets.

      It would be nice to have, but the effectiveness of MAD has been reduced by subs taking more steps to manage their magnetic signatures and it’s a lot less effective against 1,500t SSKs than against 15,000t boomers. And it needs flying at low level, when the whole idea of the P-8 is about avoiding flying at low level where possible, as airliners aren’t really designed for it, it banjaxes fuel consumption and stresses the airframe.

      • blight_

        Also: what’s the effective depth for a submarine to be picked up by MAD? If it requires a submarine relatively close to the surface, and the Navy expects to do lots of blue-water ASW…then the requirement seems rather superfluous.

        • Bela

          No boat likes to dive below 800 feet. In that case they can be detected via MAD with an appropriately fitted MAD gear on a P-3.

          • blight_

            Perhaps the Navy will give us lightweight air-droppable MAD’s…and then when the program is delayed, who’s holding the bag?

    • T. Heerman

      Having spent 9 years in P-3’s I can only think of one time we picked up anything on MAD. The range is limited, meaning the aircraft needs to be low and a sub needs to be near the surface and almost directly below the aircraft to have success with the MAD boom. While I’m not familiar with the capabilities of the P-8 I am not surprised the stinger has been dropped.

      • Veteran

        I have used MAD many times, its very effective. We use 200-500 feet when doing MAD runs. Lots of time we use the MAD as a last confirmation before we attack (practice all the time on Russian subs, our neighbours). :)

  • Shane Pollock

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

    • E_Khun

      So the variant we’re talking here about doesn’t have a MAD.

      Oh. And the variant that’s bought by people halfway around the world who actually ARE threathend by the chinese and actually want to be able to USE the thing they’re buying does have a MAD.

    • blight_

      MAD doesn’t magically make your ASW aircraft more effective. It’s a useful tool, but aircraft can only search so much of the ocean by swooping low to use the MAD.

      • Dfens

        I think they have surgery now that can fix it if you have something like that sticking out of your ass.

        • blight_

          And all the American ones don’t have it; and all the Indian ones do.

          Isn’t the plan to use Tritons (unless they fall out of procurement) for the MAD work?

          • Talosian

            Where did you hear that?

  • Big-B

    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.

    • Ricker

      As a former MAD operator we would fly at an alt. of 100 ft during the day and 300ft at nite for it to be effective. I don’t know what the minimum alt is for the P-8.

      • VPAW

        We didn’t fly at 100 feet on the P3. 200 feet was minimum. It’s a mute point though. I doubt there are any acoustic operators who can track well enough to bring MAD into play. It’s not magic, you kinda need a good idea where the sub was anyhow.

    • projob66

      the I/O is not deep.

    • Bela

      So does the South Korean variant. The limitation of the ASQ-81 as well as the ASQ-208 are real. However, a far more capable MAD gear was developed in recent times by a small company in Texas, however the project was halted during the field test phase due to lack of funding.

  • MacPaul

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

    • TXMaverick

      Defense contractors build to a requirements document which is put out by the service, in this case the Navy. So why don’t all you HATERS quit dogging the contractors who build what they are TOLD to build and lay the blame squarely where it belongs which is on the pathetic job done by many of the service program offices in establishing requirements.

      • blight_

        Military doesn’t know what it wants. So it reshapes the RFP based on what it hears from the vendors. Both are “build first, think later”, without really thinking about the present, or the future.

        Isn’t that why LCS morphed from the concept of a fairly cheap and mass producible aircraft into swiss army knife module-transporter? And why two of the America class LHA’s will be well-deckless and the rest LHD’s with proper well decks? Or how the Abrams replacement morphed between a lightweight carbon fiber box with lots of electronic whizbang, or how Bradley replacement became a 60-84 ton vehicle that’s not very different, but much more expensive?

      • Dfens

        Hell yeah, the Navy requirements said the P-8 had to have a whole bunch of submarine sensors, but I’ll bet they they forgot to say they had to work! Fools, You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia,” but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line!”

        • Haze grey

          That’s inconceivable!!!!!

        • JohnnyRanger

          Hahaha! Classic! I needed that after reading this article. SCARY….

    • sailor12

      military-industrial complex did not do this the Navy pilots wanted this so at the end of their careers they can work at Delta. They don’t care if it does not do the job. Lockheed offered to give them a new P-3 but they wanted a commerical A/C. They can rewing their old P-3 like the customs and Norway did.

      • Dfens

        Yes, it is all a conspiracy by the Navy pilots. Hell, if the P-3 was good enough for our fathers, it’s good enough for us. Why even design new airplanes? The old ones were good enough.

      • haloguy628

        You are half way correct. It was actually the mechanics who perpetrated this conspiracy so at the end of their careers they can work for FedEx.

        • Dfens

          You get style points for that one.

    • Mikey

      I love these guys that blame the Military-Industrial Complex; it’s the same ole same ole c— that they spout when the military builds anything. I’ll tell you what. Let’s take all the Welfare bums, put them in a rowboats and drop them 50 miles off shore. When they hear a sub go by they can call it in on their Obama Phones. Now that would be good use of Government Welfare resources.

      • Dfens

        Why should we waste money on starving children when we can give $25 million a year to Bob Stevens and Wes Bush? Yeah, that’s a way better form of welfare.

  • Mark Varry

    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.

    • Dfens

      Let’s not get hasty here. These defense contractors are making record profits. They made record profits all the way through this great depression. Now is certainly not a good time to upset the status quo.

      • oblatt2

        What many people don’t realize is how hard it is to built this highly profitable systems. You don’t just throw together a naval patrol aircraft and expect it to generate extraordinary profits the way the LCS, F35, GCV, ADV, P8 do. It requires a lot of skilled incompetence and accounting tricks.

        • Dfens

          Be careful talking like that. The black helicopters will be following you next.

      • William_C1…

        What were you saying again?

        • Dfens

          The shill for the status quo bends over again.

        • blight_

          “Well yeah, I do believe them, because there’s nothing special about 11-12% margins. Maybe they’re strong for defense, and maybe they surpass expectations, but 12% returns is not the stuff of which Harvard Business School case studies are made. ”

          YMMV. If I was an investor clamoring for more dividend check every year, I’d never be happy.

          Defense is an unpredictable growth market, but at least cost-plus means you’ll never lose big…until the whole market comes crashing down. But that’s what reinsurance is for.

    • Ben

      I still count the F-22 as a success, but the ATF program was a bit older than 10 years.

      • Dfens

        30 years of profits. I’d say that was a success.

        • Ben

          But at least it performs (hypoxia incidents aside). The real waste was spending all of that time and money on development and then turning around and closing the production lines at 187 aircraft. Economy of scale didn’t have much chance to start sinking in.

          • Dfens

            It is hard to fight with paper drawings of weapons.

          • William_C1

            You do realize that the F-22 uses the AMRAAM and Sidewinder don’t you? Both well established systems.

          • Dfens

            Can you launch on of those off a paper drawing of an airplane? Last I checked that was a good way to hurt yourself more than the enemy, unless they should happen to crash laughing at you.

          • tiger

            Success? Sorry, but the damn thing has killed more USAF pilots than bad guys so far. Combat to date? Zero……

          • Dfens

            Depends on your point of view, right? It has certainly been a huge financial success for Lockheed.

    • twomuch2luz

      the US Navy BAMS-D aircraft are cheap and a work!

    • 4thID RVN

      Remember, we also can’t send a man into space, much less the moon. Better learn to speak Chinese. America is a has-been country lead by time serving hacks with no vision. Ok, obama has a vision for bringing us to our knees but that doesn’t count.

      • Dfens

        You can largely thank the outsourcing of our government to contractors for the current state of our nation. Back when NASA designed their own rockets we could send men to the moon. Once we started outsourcing rocket design to defense contractors we were lucky to be able to get men to low earth orbit for 30 years, and the follow on to that program is now we have to buy a ride from Russia to get our asstronauts to our space station.

        When the US Navy designed their own ships, they could design and build the Iowa Class Battleship for less than it cost Lockheed to design and build the LCS, which is little more than a glorified PT boat.

    • TFolsom

      Their PowerPoints were all excellent, isn’t that the point?

    • tiger

      We make country music & porn. Those we seem to be still good at making.

      • Dfens

        We do an excellent job making anything that makes money. The problem is that we have economic rules in place that make winning for the entrepreneur losing for the nation. We lower our tariffs and jack up business taxes and can’t figure out why businesses go overseas. We lower capital gains taxes that used to penalize short term stock market profits and then we can’t figure out why businesses don’t reinvest in themselves. We pay defense contractors more to screw us than we do if they come in with a good product on time and on budget, then we can’t figure out why weapons take so long and cost so much. It certainly isn’t rocket science.

    • Guest

      I agree with what you’re saying overall, but it is unfair to count the P-8 among the failures. The Poseidon is actually one of the few programs that has been running relatively smoothly; it never had any significant delays or massive cost increases that plagued other systems. It entered service in 2013 as scheduled and already has an export customer and is poised to rack up quite a few more.

      That said, it is unbelievable how we have become incapable of even designing a basic IFV or frigate/corvette these days. Something absolutely has to change.

    • Trav

      What EXACTLY is your problem. The DoD and Defense Contractors keep the economy moving by pouring money into a black hold out of which nothing seems to come out. This keeps people employed. Don’t you understand that?

  • JamcaicanMeAfraid

    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.

    • Dfens

      I know, maybe we can do a study to see just how much more “safe and reliable” DO-178B makes our software? We know it drives development time and cost through the roof. Maybe it’s time we established just how much better it makes our software? I mean, if we cared…

    • Greg

      I completely disagree. Yes we are having software growing pains. But think of the future, upgrades will just be a code update in many cases. Right now we are swapping out hardware in most cases. It took the civlilian world a while before updates were handled appropriately, it will take the military world some time also. We can’t keep living in yesterday, with the advances in computing power and storage going all software is inevitable. It is better to be ahead of the curve then behind the curve.

    • Sgt.Pipe

      there really needs to be a manual mechanical override for all of these;”there’s an app for that” systems….years ago there was an expression ‘when the balloon goes up’……well when the balloon goes up, computers will not function…

      • Greg

        Agreed a manual backup is essential.

        • Riceball

          How do you build a manual back up to a MAD, dangle a giant magnet from the bottom of the plane?

          • Thomas L. Nielsen

            Why do I suddenly have the words “ACME” and “Wile E. Coyote” whizzing through my head?

            Regards & all,

            Thomas L. Nielsen

    • tiger

      We can not even build a healthcare web page. Yet you expect software to find a sub?

      • Dfens

        Doesn’t matter if the software is supposed to find subs or administer health care, it always pays better to f up. Then you’re surprised when they do? Whose fault is that?

      • Guest

        What kind of logic is that? “My horseless carriage’s engine keeps breaking, and they expect to have tanks in the army?”

    • blight_

      Back to the stone age, you.

  • Jim Palazzolo

    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.

    • Tom

      Just finished tiger trap by David Wise and was thinking the the same thing as I was reading this article. Wish that was really what was happening but unfortunately that is not what is happening.

    • that one guy

      I think its back fired then.

    • Retired DEFATT


  • Dfens

    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.

    • sailor12

      Boeing built this one???

    • tiger

      Cancel? The P-8 project has taken 20 years to reach squadron service. So not really a ASW option.

      • Dfens

        Just pointing out a trend, not advocating for that trend.


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

  • d. kellogg

    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???

    • Dfens

      Let’s cancel that one too! This would be the perfect time for it.

  • Marshall Smith

    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.

  • DMH

    Bring back the S-3.

    • Ben

      Makes too much sense, makes too little profit.

    • William_C1

      S-3 was a carrier based sub-hunter. The P-8 is the replacement for the P-3 Orion. Those are larger, land based sub-hunters with a greater range and expected to stay on patrol longer.

      • tiger

        We still lack a fixed wing ASW replacement for the S-3. There is need for plane to do land & sea based ASW/ long range ship strike.

        • Riceball

          I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to shoe horn that capability into the Super Hornets.

    • kcsparky

      Problem with the S-3 was that as soon as it started “trapping” on a carrier deck, its sensor equipment suffered fairly major degradation. I witnessed this as a P-3C sensor operator while flying joint operations. Once deployed, it couldn’t find its own butt!

  • Larry Rouse

    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.

    • FreeAmerica

      Everybody has a better idea of what we should buy and how. Everyone’s a critic. It makes for good humor.

    • projob66

      The only thing the P-3A could find was the box lunches and the per diem checks… The S-3 they turned into a tanker because it couldnt find its acc with both hands. Mad Shmad… noone can find submarines, except other submarines.. unless that is, you count the EPIRB alerts from sunk merchants and surface warfare combatants as contacts… pffff…. much ado about not much..

    • JamesH

      It was based on a modified Lockheed Electra airliner not a Orion.

  • Truthzorro

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

    • Guest

      Why would you fire the dod head of test and evaluation? He has successfully identified performance deficiencies (and trust me, he didn’t is was government and Boeing worker bees that did that work)

  • Guest

    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.

  • oblatt2

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

    • LPF

      You do realise that for subs to attack a surface ship they need to be near the surface to get ranging information and target solutions don’t you?

      I know its a bit of fiction , but read “Red Storm Rising” might give you a taste of what submarine attacks are like, or read the account of the attack on the “General Belgrano”in the falklands war. Subs do not attack ships from the deep!

  • oblatt2

    Next up tankers that cant deliver fuel.

  • Ben

    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.

    • d. kellogg

      But don’t you get it?
      We have the All Purpose LCS to do all the ASW work we’ll ever need…..

      Oh wait…

      • blight_

        ASW modules and carrier-killing modules, and land tank mode modules…

  • sailor12

    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.

    • GFB

      After initial bugs were worked out the P-3 is still one of the moste stable platforms built especially for the job it performs. But maybe I am just partial to it. They should continue improvements in order to keep them in service.

    • Mastro

      “If one engine goes on the P-8 it’s time tolimp home.”

      True- but how often does that happen? I’ve flown on 737’s dozens of times- I’ve never had to “limp home”. I was late to Europe when a 767 needed an engine change- so engine problems do happen.

      But- you can’t prepare for everything- no plane can do that.

  • Lance

    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.

    • Dfens

      Wait a second, I thought it was the pilots’ fault. Oh, different conspiracy theory. Sorry.

    • p3crick


    • Brian

      Umm, no.

      The Navy is still flying E-2C’s and the E-2D is joining the fleet now. Turboprop flying from the carrier.

    • Guest

      What an unbelievable pile of bull dung. Where are you getting this information??

      • gaylord_gaylordson

        You’ll learn quickly that the comments on this site come, in their majority, from uninformed, inexperienced teenagers.

        The P-8 is suffering normal developmental teething issues. Nothing more.

    • Mastro

      I thought it had something to do with the P-3 being based on the Lockheed Electra- which had a very short life- compared to the 737- which has thousands and thousands of examples flying. Big difference between scavenging at Davis-Monthan like Mad Max- or calling Boeing for a part.

      Its also bigger and can get to station quicker- although it can’t loiter long.

      If there is any conspiracy- P8 pilots might be able to get 737 jobs as soon as they retire- but that might actually help Navy aviators choose the P8 over Top Gun stuff. So it still could be good fro the Navy.

  • anonymous

    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.

    • mel

      Thats probably one of the last things you would hear..

  • 5859695

    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.

    • Guest

      If you read the Bloomberg article it’s not even particularly damning. It doesn’t say that the aircraft is fundamentally flawed or that it’s doomed to fail or anything like that. It just says that it isn’t (wasn’t?) ready for combat until they fix the software issues that popped up in the very first year of real operational testing. This is hardly unusual for the first year of service for a new system. The EA-18G Growler was also similarly labeled in 2010 I believe.

      All the hysterical, indignant outrage by the armchair warriors here is really misplaced.

    • billymadisonatheart

      You’re right, though a situation in which a supposedly operational weapon system like the P-3C actually goes for years with “bugs” isn’t ideal.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but operational testing/operational evaluation is done prior to IOC, right? I took a few acquisitions courses, but was so bored I don’t remember much. If this is “normal” for operational testing, then so be it . . . but its quite another thing for a system to be billed as “operational” when its not.

  • mpower6428

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

  • Chris

    “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….

    • tiger

      You could have said the same about too…….

  • Trap

    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 .

    • kcsparky

      Dead on the button!! Am a retired SS3 and crew efficiency really went in the bucket. Grading criteria dropped so as to make things “look good” on a Skipper’s FITREP concerning Crew Proficiency. It was really pathetic to watch. When I retired 12 years ago, there was only one other crewman instructor at our command, a SS1, who had real on top Soviet time. The only “sub” time crews were seeing was either in the 2F140 trainer or by a US unit intentionally running noisy. It was really pathetic to watch!

  • stpaulchuck

    quick, sell it to a Chinese spy!

  • Big-Dean

    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

    • PolicyWonk

      You are making some valid points.

      The LCS power plant is (from what I’ve read) super-noisy, and noisy enough so that any sub-driver worth their salt will know where they are and where they’re heading long before they can even drop components of their ASW mission package into the drink.

      While the reportedly severely lacking LCS isn’t ready for much of anything, let alone war-fighting, something with a quieter power plant/propulsion system would certainly be better for ASW.

      And building more submarines is a *very* good idea. And I wouldn’t mind seeing the US acquiring a squadron or two of AIP subs, and forward basing them in Japan (or somewhere else in the proximity), just to let the ChiComs know we’re keeping an eye on them.

      • Guest

        Do we still have on loan/assignment from Sweden the two Gotland-class AIP subs with their crews? They supposedly are giving our subs fits in exercises and we are learning new tactics as a result.

        • gaylord_gaylordson

          No. Pump jets are louder, but not “super loud” (didn’t know that terminology yet). It’s certainly quieter than a Burke.

      • Big-Dean

        Hey Policy, I served on a Knox class Frigate back in the late 90’s and even though some people scoffed at them, they were a pretty good ASW plaform. We had a 5″ gun up front with ASROC and Harpoon, Phalenx, we had torpedoes, a pretty decent electronics suite, a very power sonar and tail, and could carry two helos. With the masking system we were pretty quiet. An interesting thing about the Knox class is that they had very large magazines, we could hold lots and lots of ASROCs, Harpoons and torpedoes if we wanted to and we were pretty fast, we once did 31 knots on a single boiler!

        In fact, in one particular “exercise” with one of our LA subs, we completely fooled it-I can’t say more.

        The FFG Perry’s while fine ships were not optimized for ASW, and the LCS is a joke, ti’s too danm noise and it has no sensors nor weapons. It’s a real shame we sunk all of the Spru cans, they were an excellent ASW platform

    • tiger

      Where are you going to find decent sonar techs any more? We have a generation of kids with cranked up ipod ear buds in their heads 24/7. How are they going to hear a sub?

      • blight_

        We’ll have apps and software to do the triangulation. Human ears are still nice to have though.

    • blight_

      They will attach MAD equipment to the JSF-B…

  • John Wolfe

    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.

    • tiger

      Not too fast. The speed is used to reach the patrol area faster & stay on station.

      • kcsparky

        Tiger…..too fast down low on station. ASW was an art flown down in “the weeds”. 300 - 400 feet was the norm and jets just can’t loiter slow enough at those altitudes to be really effective. My old P-3 could fly around down there all day with No.1 in the bag to save fuel and track Soviet subs without problem. The P-8 is a very bad idea for this mission.

  • Heard it myself

    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”.

  • Lee

    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.

  • Robert Zafran

    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.

  • Ernie

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

    • Guest

      Simple, they were not offered by Boeing

    • kcsparky

      The P-7 LRAACA program was cancelled in 1990 due to cost overrun defaults by Lockheed. Boeing and McDonald-Douglas also attempted bids with a 757 and a DC-90. The P-4 was a recon plane flown in the late ’40’s and the P-5M Marlin in the ’50’s.

  • Jerr

    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.


    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!!!

  • tigger

    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.

    • kcsparky

      I walked through and watched the test flights out of NAS Jax for Boeing’s bid with their 757 variant. And I was there in Jax through all of the P-7 talk. Lockheed really under bid the aircraft and when cost overruns hit $300 mil., the Navy pulled the plug in July of 1990. That would have been a great bird though. Next chance for new P-3’s was in 1994 when South Korea paid to have the production line in Marietta, Ga. re-tooled and purchased 19 new airframes to replace their S-2 Trackers. The Navy could have purchased brand new P-3C Update III’s for one-third of the regular price as the Korean’s foot the tooling bill. Clinton was in the middle of slashing the military to pieces then and shot done DOD’s request for new aircraft. I was an instructor at the FRS then and got to walk through one of the new Korean birds. Wow….never experienced that “new car smell” in an aircraft before! Problem now is that all of the experience gained during the Cold War flying on Soviet contacts is looooong gone. When I retired 12 years ago, there was only one other instructor at my command that had actual on top time. Grading criteria was severely lowered as to make up for the loss in Crew Proficiency so Squadron Skipper’s FITREP’s wouldn’t take a hit. It was really tough grading to a lower standard and was really hard to swallow. The P-8 design doesn’t help as it is really not well suited down low, butCrew Proficiency is now their greatest problem.

  • hasha2

    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!

    • CliffB813

      You most certainly did find the subs — but that was in the SOSUS days. What has replaced SOSUS, presuming it isn’t classified.

      I was a Navy Officer in those days and using your data we located more than one Soviet Sub in the Pacific using a combination of an ASW Task Group centered around a CVS and P-3’s. The trouble was that the Soviet (or any) Subs could detect us at long range with their passive sonar, so we positioned ourselves off to one side knowing they would come in our direction and the P-3’s would lay JEZ barriers along the path the Soviets would take. Of course, all that occurred because we received SOSUS provided info when the Soviet Subs left port and the track they wre on. They were creatures of habit, liked to proceed down certain valleys between certain underwater mountain ranges. The good old days.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    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.

    • Dfens

      The defense contractors will just find another way to pay them off. The best way to stop the revolving door by increasing competition. The only way to do that is to make contractors cover their own development costs for prototype weapons instead of having these bogus competitions between “proposals”. All a proposal is now is a pack of lies a contractor tells to get their foot in the door. After they win the government watchdog agency will be their whitewash agency.

      • blight_

        We’ll get bids for safe, incremental increases in capability.

        Which is totally fine, since we can actually get new hardware instead of waiting for the next super custom thing that never gets done because certain parts go obsolete before a development cycle completes.

  • Veteran

    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….

    • Tiger

      On bright side? Those Russian subs rarely put to sea anymore to track.

      • Veteran

        …we track them every week, so they are at sea. For real…

  • drnuke

    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.

    • tigger

      This reflects the narrow view through the periscope of a US nuc. The MOST effective platform for tracking another submarine is a submarine, but it is not the only platform. Airborne ASW sensor sensitivity reflect the capabilities of the targets for which they were designed to detect. Having participated in countless submarine prosecutions on Soviet then Russian submarines resulting in thousands of hours of contact time, I do not recall ever seeing a Russian made flare. The sole advantage airborne ASW has over a submarine is speed, by a factor of twenty. Unless the hunters were lurking at the harbor mouth when their targets set to sea they needed help finding their prey.

  • Curt

    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.

    • tigger

      “unarmed anti-surface warfare missions”. The P-3 is highly effective in conducting “ARMED anti-surface warfare missions”. If fact the P-3 is significantly faster at low level for penetrating the sensor envelope of high threat surface targets than the 737-800/900 on which the P-8 is based.

  • B-58 Hustler

    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.

  • blight_

    Bring back ASW airships.

  • David

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

  • Kim Wolfersperger

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


    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.

  • Sid

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

  • Willis Olson

    Better look at the Japanese US2 seaplane!

  • Lee

    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

  • blight_

    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

    • Mastro

      Well- the Coast Guard uses C130’s for search and rescue-

      Since Lockheed makes both of them- and submitted a P3/Electra new build in the competition that lost to the P8- I guess there are advantages to the Electra configuration.

  • Dave Hylton

    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!

  • IQAF1985


    • Mastro

      I would love if we had some Bear aircraft- amazing loiter time.

  • retin88

    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.

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  • Frank X. Acevedo

    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

  • Frank X. Acevedo

    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.