P-8A trials new SAR kit
The US Navy has added the UNIPAC III Search and Rescue (SAR) kit to a P-8A Poseidon RPAS for testing to enhance the aircraft’s ability to respond to humanitarian missions around the globe.
The testing is being funded by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
According to the navy, the kit increases the survivor assistance capability of the P-8A from 16 to 100 people in a single sortie, ensuring those rescued are found and sustained with food, water and communications for an extended time.
Squadron Leader Nathan Mula, an Australian P-8A Flight Test Tactical officer stationed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River (PAX) in Maryland, said: ‘The test programme is a perfect example of the benefits reaped when two international partners join as part of a cooperative partnership.
‘Not only does the RAAF take a large step toward a major capability milestone, but the US Navy receives the developmental and operational test experience and results. By leveraging the developmental experience, both countries are able to increase their capability to provide assistance to survivors in the oceans around the world.’
Operated by US Navy, Australia and India, the P-8 has proven valuable at SAR in addition to its core capabilities in maritime patrol, reconnaissance, intelligence and surveillance.
Katie Giewont, a P-8A Air Vehicle Stores Compatibility flight test engineer, said: ‘Over the past year, we’ve performed numerous ground and flight tests, including static ejection, safe separation and integration programmes to certify the UNIPAC-III.’
The RAAF will perform additional operational testing in Australia later in the year, and the US Navy will evaluate the UNIPAC-III for its own fleet, and will use outcomes from the RAAF’s operational tests to consider the potential introduction of the capability.
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