The number of P-8A Poseidon aircraft based on Whidbey Island could be more than twice what was initially planned, according to a press release from U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen.
The Navy will study three alternatives to its 2008 Record of Decision, all of which would result in additional aircraft coming to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, will receive fewer of the aircraft the alternatives.
The P-8A Poseidon is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. The Boeing aircraft is a modified 737.
Larsen said in the press release that the decision shows the importance of NAS Whidbey to the Navy.
‚ÄúI have long called on the Navy to maintain its commitment to Whidbey Island in the Record of Decision, and might have been skeptical of revisions,‚Äù Larsen added. ‚ÄúBut this is clearly great news for Whidbey Island. The worst case scenario is we keep the four squadrons planned for Whidbey Island. In the best case, we might bring more than twice the number of aircraft to our base.‚Äù
The 2008 Record of Decision on the P-8A states that four fleet squadrons, a total of 24 aircraft, will be based on Whidbey. Under one of three alternatives, the base would instead receive seven fleet squadrons with 49 aircraft.
The Navy will study the alternatives as part of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
The P-8As are slated to replace the P-3 Orions as they are phased out of service.