The “Mad Foxes” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 5 returned home to Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) April 10, after completing a six-month, dual site P-8A Poseidon deployment to the U.S. 4th Fleet and U.S. 6th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).
In the 4th Fleet AOR, VP-5 successfully completed the first ever operational P-8A deployment in support of U.S. Southern Command. While conducting operations primarily out of Cooperative Security Location Comalapa, El Salvador, VP-5 aircrews and aircraft were able to bring the Poseidon’s modern sensors and increased range to the seas of Central and South America. Operations included numerous counter-narcotics missions resulting in the seizure or disruption of over 33,000 kilograms of illegal narcotics with a street value of over $2 billion.
During this time, the Mad Foxes were also the first U.S. asset to respond to the multi-national search for the missing Argentine submarine, the ARA San Juan in addition to flying humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
While in the 6th Fleet AOR, VP-5 operated out of 11 different countries across Europe and the Middle East from their primary base of operations in NAS Sigonella, Italy. VP-5 successfully executed over 4,157.4 flight hours in support of the deployed operations including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance flights and anti-submarine warfare missions. Missions spanned the skies over the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Gulf, and more.
Led by Commanding Officer Cmdr. Will Toraason, VP-5 consists of just under 300 personnel and seven aircraft.
“This deployment displayed the Mad Fox Team as a squadron ready to fight and win our country’s wars, anytime and anywhere,” said Toraason. “We performed our mission of anti-submarine warfare throughout Europe, and interdicted over $2 billion of illegal narcotics while operating out of Central America. Throughout all of this, our squadron’s readiness begins and ends with the homefront: everything we accomplished was due to the support from our friends and families back home.”
The success the Mad Foxes achieved could not have been possible without the daily efforts of maintenance and support personnel. The maintenance department was able to rotate through the detachment sites which allowed them to gain experience to effectively operate from anywhere. During this deployment, the maintainers consistently ensured the aircraft were mission ready and even completed the first forward-deployed engine change on the P-8A. Administrative support personnel routinely worked around the clock to ensure detachments had everything they needed to operate immediately upon arrival to a new airfield.
When asked what he would remember most from his first deployment, AWO3 Marc Mack said, “Traveling and operating in countries such as Iceland and Scotland with the crew was unforgettable. We were able to work cohesively as a team and execute missions that were a part of something bigger than ourselves.”