|Australia's 1st P-8 Poseidon takes flight (File Photo)|
By ROBBIN LAIRD
The UK, Norway and the US have signed an agreement to work together on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) in the North Atlantic which will leverage the joint acquisition of the P-8 aircraft, another example of the US and its allies an evolving defense capability in which allies are clearly key partners.
The P-8s is part of a cluster of software upgradeable airplanes which are defining the way ahead for combat airpower: the Australian Wedgetail, the global F-35, and the Advanced Hawkeye, all have the same dynamic modernization potential to which will be involved in all combat challenges of maritime operations.
All military technology is relative to a reactive enemy. As my colleague Ed Timperlake has noted: “It is about the arsenal of democracy shifting from an industrial production line to a clean room and a computer lab as key shapers of competitive advantage.”
Much as allied F-35 pilots and maintainers are being trained initially in the United States and then standing up national capabilities, the same is happening with the P-8/Triton allies. The Brits and Australians are training at Jacksonville Navy, and this will certainly happen with the Norwegians as well. In fact, an RAF pilot has recently topped 1,000 flight hours on the P-8 at Jacksonville.
These allies cover key geographical territory, so shared domain knowledge and operational experience in the South Pacific and the North Atlantic is of obvious significance for US warfighting and deterrence. Given the relatively small size of the allied forces, they will push the multi-mission capabilities of the aircraft even further than the United States will do and, as they do so, the U.S. can take those lessons as well.
There is already a case in point. The Australians wanted the P-8 modified so they could do search and rescue — something that the US Navy did not build into its P-8s. Now that capability comes with the aircraft, something that was very much a requirement for the Norwegians as well. And the US Navy is finding this “add-on” as something of significance for the US.
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