Naval Air: P-25 Too Good To Be Replaced

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June 22, 2014: The U.S. Navy is upgrading 66 of its A/S32P-25 (or "P-25" for short) fire trucks. These compact vehicles are used on aircraft carrier flight and hanger decks. The upgrades include more powerful pumps, engines and other mechanical components.  These four wheel firefighting vehicles have seating for two and a main tank with 3,000 liters (750 gallons) of water, plus a tank with 340 liters (86 gallons) of foam plus three portable, 9 kg (20 pound) Halon fire extinguishers (for small electrical fires) and 91 kg (200 pounds) of Halon. The 8.6 ton vehicle also carries hoses (a 2,000 liter per minute vehicle mounted hose and a 400 liter per minute hand held hose) and pumps and the vehicle are diesel powered. The vehicle is 4.9 meters (190 inches) long and the two man crew sits in uncovered seats.

The idea behind the P-25 is to have a fully equipped vehicle that can quickly reach, and put out fires anywhere on the flight or hanger decks. Many of the deck crew are trained to fight fires and know how to use the gear carried by the P-25 (now the P-25A). On large carriers two of these vehicles must be on the flight decks during aircraft operations.

The U.S. Navy is upgrading its P-25As because there seemed no point in trying to develop a replacement vehicle. The P-25 is the result of decades of evolution and experience and the current design is pretty solid. So it was no surprise when China commissioned its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in 2012 and one of new items seen on the flight deck were several firefighting vehicles. These looked like clones of the P-25. The Chinese may have built their firefighting vehicles simply by using publically available documents about the P-25 or they might have used technical date stolen electronically via the decade old Chinese Internet based espionage effort. It’s hard to tell, and the truth may not be known for a long time. 

 


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