NAVAIR delivers P-3C TCDL production kits ahead of schedule

NAVAIR successfully delivered the first two P-3C Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) production kits to the fleet, six months ahead of schedule. The TCDL system provides significantly enhanced situational awareness across the battle space by allowing real-time mission system video and data to be transmitted to joint air, ship, and ground forces.

“This is a very important program for the Navy that provides critical support for P-3C fleet deployments,” said Cmdr. Mike Moran, head of the P-3C Anti Surface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) for NAVAIR’s Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program Office, PMA-290.

The Navy requested this program, which is developing a productionized version of the TCDL P-3C prototype system, an increasingly difficult system to maintain, be accelerated by six months. The kits were installed on two VP-4 fleet P-3Cs in time for their upcoming deployment in support of critical operational tasking in the Central Command area of responsibility. The program schedule was demanding and required constant NAVAIR, industry, and fleet integration on a real-time basis in order to coordinate and accelerate non-recurring engineering, procurement, production, test, subcontracted efforts, trial kit installation, and training. The culmination of this joint effort allowed the successful flight test and delivery of two VP-4 fleet P-3C aircraft, six months ahead of schedule, and in time to support pre-deployment training and deployment.

The TCDL, developed by L-3 Communications, Communication Systems-West, was integrated aboard the P-3C AIP maritime patrol aircraft by the prime systems integrator, Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors’ Tactical Systems business unit in Eagan, Minnesota. The program included additional support from L-3 Communications, Telephonics Corporation, which provided ICS retrofits, as well as Logistics Systems International (LSI), which supported early flight and maintenance manual releases. With the increased complexity of Anti Surface Warfare (ASuW) and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations, the Navy is enhancing the capability of its maritime patrol aircraft.

TCDL is key to the P-3’s upgrade plan to address the CNO’s Sea Power 21 capability requirements as the Navy moves toward a more network centric and distributive force. Teamwork was the basis for this success story, as the government, industry and fleet team forged a close working relationship where a common understanding of and dedication to fleet operational requirements enabled the program to be accelerated.

“The combined efforts of NAVAIR engineers and industry experts were truly appreciated by the fleet as we were challenged with a very short timeline to not only prepare the aircraft for deployment but also to thoroughly train aircrew and maintenance personnel to operate and groom this new system,” said Capt. Bill Moran, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Two commander. “Today these two aircraft are operating in direct support of important missions on the ground and in the littoral regions of the 5th Fleet’s area of responsibility, where reliability is key to success.”

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