JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Patrol Squadron SIXTEEN (VP-16) will make history as the first operational Navy squadron to deploy with the new P-8A Poseidon to the Western Pacific on Friday.

In July 2012, VP-16 became the first Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft operational squadron to transition from the P-3C Orion to the P-8A Poseidon.

The transition was completed in January 2013.

As the first operational squadron to transition to a new MPRA in more than 50 years, VP-16 has been part of many historic accomplishments.

It's spent the last year preparing for its upcoming deployment as the first squadron to take the P-8 into theater.

Family members and friends of the "War Eagles" will be at the hangar at NAS Jacksonville on Friday to bid farewell to their loved ones.

The P-8A provides more combat capability from a smaller force and less infrastructure while focusing on worldwide responsiveness and interoperability with traditional manned forces and evolving unmanned sensors.

It leverages the experience and technology of the P-3C's capabilities and assets to meet the Navy's needs of developing and fielding a maritime aircraft equipped with significant growth potential.  That includes extended global reach, greater payload capability and higher operating altitude.