NAS Whidbey Island Community
VP-4 Executes First West Coast P-8A In Air Refueling Operations
Story by PO2 Juan Sua on 02/15/2019
OAK HARBOR, Wash. — U.S. Navy Aircrewmen assigned to the “Skinny Dragons” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 began P-8A air-to-air refueling (AAR) operations on Feb. 6, 2019.
Over the course of two day and night sorties, pilots Lt. Cmdr. Eric Martin and Lt. Brent Nelsen flew a P-8A while a 940th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 fueled the aircraft. Both pilots also logged several “dry plugs” under the guidance of Fleet Replacement Squadron (VP) 30 personnel as a part of the AAR requalification.
As one of the original test pilots for the P-8A Fleet Integration Team AAR test program, Martin is highly qualified to instruct future VP-4 pilots in this evolution.
“The P-8A has successfully been conducting aerial refueling on the East Coast for the past 18 months,” said Martin. “We look forward to extending that capability to the West Coast, enhancing strategic mission effectiveness, building symbiotic relationships with the Air Force Air Refueling Wings, and building of air-to-air experience in the MPRA community.”
The introduction of aerial refueling is a strategic military capability that increases the P-8A’s range and flexibility.
“Introducing aerial refueling to west coast P-8A squadrons is a huge milestone for the maritime patrol and reconnaissance community,” said Cmdr. Christopher Purcell, Commanding Officer, VP-4. “We are pleased to have an opportunity to introduce this capability on the west coast and build proficiency as more pilots are exposed to it.”
VP-4, based out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington is currently conducting a fleet readiness training plan in preparation for an upcoming deployment.