February 1, 2009  

Save the P-8

TO THE NAVY for cutting funding of its P-8 patrol aircraft program. In the Defense Department’s fiscal 2010 budget proposal, the Navy has requested a shift of more than $900 million from the P-8 patrol and surveillance program to the DDG 1000 destroyer. Such a huge slice could potentially kill the P-8 program. While it’s understandable that a Navy under budget pressures focuses on saving its ships, giving up the P-8 would be shortsighted. The P-3 that the P-8 is designed to replace has in effect worn out; dozens have been grounded, and the Navy is struggling to keep the fleet flying. And yet the P-3 provides critical information over southwest Asia and is the Navy’s most important ISR contributor to the wars and to the joint fight. Further, the P-8 preserves and advances a unique capability while the DDG, with its novel design features, is effectively a massively expensive technology demonstrator. There is a real danger that without the P-8 coming on board as planned, the Navy will give up critical anti-submarine warfare and ISR capabilities.