One of my spies in the shadow world of the "special" Maritime Patrol & Reconnaissance community sent along this point to ponder;
The Navy will consolidate its two electronic reconnaissance squadrons in August into one large squadron.Word has it VPU-1 is going away on 22 APR.
According to a directive issued in late March by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two (VQ-2) officially will be deactivated on Aug. 31 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., although the deactivation ceremonies will be held on May 17. Its EP-3E aircraft and air crews will be absorbed by its sister squadron, VQ-1.
The consolidation is part of the Navy’s initiative to reduce its overhead costs planned for fiscal 2012.
VQ-2 was established on Sept. 1, 1955, as Electronic Countermeasures Squadron Two at Port Lyautey, Morocco. It was transferred to Naval Station Rota, Spain in January 1960 and redesignated VQ-2. The squadron moved to Whidbey Island in October 2005.
As Skippy has outlined often, the move to put the P-3 community in charge of the VP and VPU squadrons may have made sense on paper - but did not bode well for those communities.
Strange in a way. With today's challenges, those skills that they brought to the table are needed more now than ever. The VQ squadrons were already large compared to VP squadrons. We don't see them consolidating VP squadrons to the size of VQ, personnel wise, but we know the reason for that (it takes CDR Commands to make CAPT to make RDML to make .... ).
So. This was in many ways written in stone with the horrible decision almost a decade ago to go with that canary in the acquisition coal mine, ACS for a EP-3 replacement.
My spy give of a view down the road too,
... the Navy is getting rid of manned reconnaissance before unmanned assets are online (watch for the requirements creep in BAMS Spiral 3 - advertised as an EP-3E replacement...and then watch the program slip), is the annual certification before Congress as to the health of the VPU/VQ community.If they could - what would they say?
Gen. Cartwright said that everything was fine, but that was at RDML Mike Hewitts personal request - they are quite close.
This year's certification will also discuss detaching crews for 6 months at a time (the Navy standard redline), but that the squadrons don't have enough people to keep those deployers home. In an unusual change of events, VQ squadrons ITEMPOs are surpassing VPUs, with certain ratings in the 70% ALREADY.
Also, as your sources in [redacted] can tell you, POM14 is a tough year. An issue sheet (that looks good from a funding perspective) will get rid of VPU entirely in 2015, and VQ in 2017. Hard to tell if the COCOMs will weigh in.
Please don't tell me this is another case of, "Let's get rid of something that is working, mature, and functional now, for something the PPT tells us will slice, dice, and juliennes 5-yrs from now. That works great every time - pay it forward!"
The about face from the USAF on Global Hawk (BAMS is the Navy version of Global Hawk) Block-30 vs. manned U-2 should give one pause ... but is anyone in Navy listening?
If my spy is right - are we looking at a sound decision, or a decision to throw VQ and VPU over the side in order to ensure that the right number of P-8s are purchased? Hard to tell - for this community there is very little in open source or any press.
We'll find out eventually though ...