POSTED: 05:21 p.m. HST, Jun 04, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 08:35 p.m. HST, Jun 04, 2014
The Navy said it will fly only two P-8A sub-hunting and surveillance jets out of Kaneohe Bay instead of the 18 it had contemplated at one time — meaning less jet noise for area residents.
A military version of the Boeing 737-800, the Poseidons will be part of a permanent rotating squadron detachment in the Isles.
The Navy announced the basing plan in a "record of decision" signed Tuesday.
Six fleet squadrons and a fleet replacement squadron will be based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., and six fleet squadrons will fly out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., the Navy said.
The Navy announced in 2012 that it was reconsidering basing the P-8A Poseidons at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay to save $300 million by consolidating the aircraft in Washington state and Florida instead.
That plan is now finalized.
In 2008, the Navy said it would base three squadrons at Kaneohe Bay with 18 aircraft total; five squadrons and the fleet replacement squadron in Jacksonville; and four squadrons in Washington state.
"Since this decision, the Navy has determined that home-basing P-8A squadrons at two locations could provide potential cost-savings while still meeting current strategic operational objectives," the Navy said in an April final supplemental environmental impact statement.
A P-8A presence will be maintained here with a detachment of two aircraft and 102 personnel rotating through Hawaii every two weeks, according to the Navy.
The larger number of jets was intended to replace the nearly 30 aging P-3C Orion propeller airplanes in four squadrons at Kaneohe Bay that are used in surveillance and reconnaissance missions around the world, the Navy said.
Navy Region Hawaii public affairs previously said the P-3s, which were designed as Cold War-era sub-hunters and have been a fixture in the state since the 1960s when they were at Barbers Point, will begin a gradual transition out of Hawaii in fiscal 2015, eventually being completely phased out here.
Even without the extra Poseidon aircraft, the Kaneohe air station will be a very busy place.
More than two dozen Cobra and Huey helicopters have been added at Kaneohe Bay, and 24 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft are expected in coming years.
Additionally, the Pentagon wants to move 2,700 Marines from Japan to Hawaii by 2026 as the U.S. seeks to reduce its military presence on Okinawa.