Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas observes operations aboard a P-8A Poseidon. (U.S. Navy photo)

ATSUGI, Japan - Vice Adm. Robert Thomas flew over Japan with Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 in the Navy's newest maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, the P-8 Poseidon, Jan. 9 and praised the crew for their hard work.

The War Eagles of VP 16 are making their inaugural deployment with six P-8As in support of 7th Fleet maritime domain awareness efforts in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. According to 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Thomas, the P-8 deployment brings increased capability to 7th Fleet's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force.

"I am extremely impressed with VP-16 and the P-8A Poseidon's performance during their inaugural deployment to Seventh Fleet," Thomas said. "Across every mission set, from anti-submarine warfare to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, P-8A capability represents a significant improvement over the P-3C, providing the opportunity to detect, track and report on more targets than ever before.

"This continues to be validated throughout the course of the aircraft's time here. I had the opportunity to fly with the squadron and witnessed their capabilities firsthand...this aircraft is a game-changer," Thomas added.

The P-8A is the most advanced long range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft in the world. A true multi-mission aircraft, it also provides superior maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. Built on the proven Boeing 737 airframe, the transition to P-8A brings with it enhanced safety and reduced maintenance. The P-8 is significantly quieter than the P-3, requires less maintenance, and provides more on-station time. The P-8A remains fully interoperable with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force's P-3C force.

The new P-8A is part of the Navy's commitment to the Pacific rebalance, bringing latest technology to 7th Fleet to ensure the U.S. is best postured to honor its security commitments to regional security and stability.