P-3 Orion Research Group
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this page was last updated on 31 August 2017
© P-3 Orion Research Group / 1997 - 2015
Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion Worldwide News Section

United States
On 1 April 2017, VP-47 officially moved from MCB Hawaii to NAS Whidbey Island. All three P-3 squadrons of Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2, VP-4, VP-9 and VP-47, were re-assigned to Whidbey and on 24 May 2017 the Wing was officially disbanded. This leaves the special P-3ís of VPU-2 operating from the Kaneohe Bay. Eventually two P-8A Poseidons will be based on TDY at the base, detached from Whidbey Island. Since June a single P-3C from Whidbey is detached here. On 20 June 2016, P-3C 160999 was positioned at the gate of Kaneohe Bay, replacing P-3A 151392 which was demolished by a contractor during May 2016.

Meanwhile at NAS Whidbey Island it has become quite crowded on the flight line. Based are the following Orion squadrons: VP-1/YB, VP-9/PD, VP-40/QE, VP-46/RC, VP-69/PJ and VQ-1/PR. Other airbases where you still can see P-3 Orions are NAS Jacksonville (VP-30/LL and VP-62/LT), NAWS Point Mugu (VX-30) and NAS Patuxent River (VXS-1). Transition from P-3 to P-8 is on track with over 50% of the community transitioned. The first West Coast squadron, VP-4, certified safe-for-flight and executed their own P-8 flight schedule. VP-4 will be followed in six-month intervals by VPs 47, 9, 40, 1, and 46. VP-30, VPU-2, VQ-1, and the two reserve VP squadrons will phase out their P-3 Orions over the next four years - their missions subsumed by P-8 and MQ-4C Triton squadrons.

Early July VP-40 brought P-3C 163291 back into the air again, after this Orion had been hangared at Whidbey Island for some two years.

As expected VP-1/YB left Shaik Isa AB and its detachments at Kadena and in Turkey during April. The last Orion returned to Whidbey on 16 April. VP-46/RC is currently deployed in the 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Restoring Hope. Deployed in the Middle East are 158934, 159326, 159894, 161411, 161593, 161766 and 162318 while on detachment at Kadena are 161588 and 161589, both BMUP+ Orions, all of which arrived late March/early April. BuNo 158934 was replaced by 162998 in June. It seems that US Navy P-3 Orions are no longer detached to Djibouti.

VP-47/RD returned to their new home at NAS Whidbey Island on 9 March 2017, after a successful dual-site deployment at Kadena Air Base, Japan and CSL Comalapa, El Salvador since September 2016. Additionally, the squadron sent detachments to the South Korea, New Zealand, Djibouti, Curacao, Thailand, and the Philippines.

The last Kaneohe Bay P-3 squadron VP-9/PD is currently deployed to NAF Kadena in Japan and CSL Comalapa in El Salvador. The last three P-3Cs from VP-9 left Hawaii in mid-March.  This will be the last P-3 Orion deployment of VP-9 and at the end of the deployment during October they will fly to their new home base at NAS Whidbey Island. Noted in Japan have been 158222/PD, 160287/PD, 161012/-, 161406/PD, 162775/PD and 163293/PD, while BuNo 158922 was seen at Comalapa. At the start of the deployment the squadron did not bother to change the YD-tail code of VP-4 to their own tail code PD.
Early August 162775 was sent to AMARG for storage after it was replaced by 158934

During March 2017 a second attempt was made to auction the former NOAA P-3C 161330/N44RF at MacDill AFB, Fl.

Another one of the P-3 Aerostar air tankers formerly operated by Aero Union has been sold. Tanker 23, N923AU, was purchased by Airstrike Firefighters LLC, a new company with Aero Union roots that was incorporated on 1 September 2016. Airstrike has been refurbishing Tanker 23 at McClellan Air Field near Sacramento since May 2017 and the company expects the Orion physically ready to fight fires by early to mid-fall of this year. In October 2013, the eight Aero Union P-3 airtankers were purchased by a company that primarily deals in supplying and overhauling spare parts for aircraft. United Aeronautical Corporation (UAC), headquartered in North Hollywood, California.
Of the eight P-3ís UAC acquired, one (T-22) was sold to Buffalo Airways, T-20 is in Tucson and may or may not be scrapped, T-21 is also in Tucson and is designated as scrapped. According Airstrike Firefoghters LLC, they have plans to purchase the remaining five Aerostars and their goal is to get them all flying within the next two years. Time will tell.

A US Navy P-3 Orion originally heading south with 12 people on board landed safely at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Medford, Or, on Friday 16 June 2017, some 25 minutes after it made a distress call. All of the crew were safe after billowing smoke in the cabin, which prompted the emergency landing.

A Chinese J-10 fighter jet performed an "unsafe" intercept of an EP-3E of VQ-1 on Sunday 23 July, while it was flying in international airspace over the East China Sea. The Chinese fighter jet was armed and came as close as 300 feet in front of the US EP-3 reconnaissance plane, causing the Navy aircraft to take "evasive action," A second armed J-10 Chinese fighter jet was involved in the intercept but only one of the aircraft acted in a "unsafe" way. Since 2015, Orions operating out of Kadena AB have an extra camera on top of the cockpit, to make footage of intercepting fighters coming too close to a P-3.

The Australian Government announced on 11 March 2016, that up to eleven AP-3C Orions would be made available to Australian Heritage Organisations (AHO) with a projected delivery timeframe of September 2016 to July 2019. During 2017 AP-3C A9-756, was allocated to the South Australian Aviation Museum in lieu of the previously allocated A9-658.

In June, the defence minister has confirmed that Australia will operate two of its advanced intelligence-gathering AP-3C Orion aircraft over the southern region of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines, to help the country's military beat back an onslaught by Islamic State-affiliated insurgents. Most likely the Orions would come from Butterworth base in Malaysia, from which the RAAF flies patrols over the South China Sea. The US Navy is already flying Orions to help the Philippines.

During July 2017, two CP-140M of 407(LRP)Sq were seen visiting Hakodate Airport on Japanís northern island of Hokkaido. This location allowed DFO officers flying on the CAF CP-140 to conduct surveillance patrols over the high-threat zone, which is beyond 322-kilometres from shore. Fishery officers and the Aurora sensor operators used the Aurora's electronic sensors to look for signs of illegal fishing and activity. They also used them to gather imagery to use as evidence in enforcement action. Both 140105 and 140111 were sporting the 75 years markings on the tailfin.

Both P-3C 60+05 and 60+06 were seen at Lossiemouth during April, participating in a Joint Warrior exercise, while 60+07 was operating out of Djibouti from 7 March until the end of June, when it returned to Nordholz. P-3C 60+06 was on display during the Air Day at Geilenkirchen on 1 and 2 July while it participated in a Dutch-German naval exercise which was held near Den Helder on 12 July. Early August, German Orions 60+03 and 60+06 participated in the exercise Saxon Warrior, which is an exercise designed to develop theater-specific combat skills, as well as to enhance cooperation between U.S. and U.K. forces and governmental agencies. The exercise was held around Scotland. On 8 August P-3C 60+02 made another 4-hour test flight from Manching. It was seen on radar flying overhead Nordholz and Jever AB. And finally, on 11 August 60+02 departed Manching for its home base Nordholz. It took EADS five years and four months to overhaul it!

Early July NATO ASW exercise ĎDynamic Mongooseí was held over the North Atlantic.  The following were noted at Keflavik airport on Iceland during that period: P-3C 163004 of VP-69, P-3C 161333 of VP-62, German Navy P-3C 60+03 of Mfg.3 and RCAF CP-140M 140104, 140114 of 14 Wing.

The Japanese Orions are flown by the following squadrons:
Koku Shudan(Atsugi)
51 Kokutai(Atsugi)  511 Hikotai P-1, UP-1, P-3C, UP-3C
1 Kokugun(Kanoya)  1 Kokutai 11 Hikotai P-3C / 12 Hikotai P-3C
2 Kokugun(Hachinohe) 2 Kokutai  21 Hikotai P-3C / 22 Hikotai P-3C
3 Kokugun(Atsugi) 3 Kokutai 31 Hikotai P-1 / 32 Hikotai P-3C
5 Kokugun(Naha)  5 Kokutai 51 Hikotai P-3C / 52 Hikotai P-3C
81 Kokutai   EP-3, OP-3C
91 Kokutai   UP-3D

Kyoiku Koku Shudan(Shimofusa)
Shimofusa Kyoiku Kokugun(Shimofusa) 203 Kyoiku Kokutai P-3C.

Japan is looking to donate retired military patrol aircraft to Malaysia, letting that Southeast Asian country keep closer watch over the South China Sea to rein in China's maritime expansion. Parliament is currently weighing revisions to the foundational law of the Ministry of Defense that would allow equipment to be given to other nations at no cost. Currently, some form of compensation is legally required for any national asset. Malaysia will likely be the first beneficiary once that change is made, receiving P-3C patrol aircraft previously used by the Maritime Self-Defense Force. Malaysia approached Japan about adding P-3Cís to its fleet, according to an official at the Defense Ministry's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency. Japan will hand the retired aircraft over after making renovations. The plan is to remove technologies such as high-performance radar used to detect submarines, which could qualify as defense secrets.

New Zealand
New Zealand will issue a request for proposals in the second half of 2017, in order to have a new aircraft in service by the time Orion airframe lives are due to run out in the mid-2020s. The Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified the US Congress on April 28 that the State Department has approved the possible foreign military sale of four P-8A Poseidons and associated support to New Zealand for approximately $1.46 billion as a replacement for the P-3K2 Orions. Other candidates are Saab, with the Swordfish platform; Leonardo, with a C-27J maritime patrol variant and Japanís Kawasaki Heavy Industries, with the P-1 maritime patrol aircraft.

P-3K2 NZ4201 of Sqn was seen visiting Kadena AB in Japan on 23 April, while the same aircraft visited Australia in July 2017.

Noted at the airshow at Andoya on 25 June 2017 were the following: resident P-3s: 3296, 3297, 3298, 6603, 4567 (hangar) all RNoAF. Also present were P-3C 60+05 Mfg.3, while the RCAF sent CP-140M 140104 of 14Wing.

On 19 March P-3C PUPs 86 and 88 were photographed while participating in the annual fly-past over Islamabad. P-3C 81 has not been noted since 22 May 2011 when it was heavily damaged during the attacks at PNS Mehran. Any confirmation of its faith would be much appreciated.

From 13 to 30 April P-3C CUP+ 14808 was operating out of NAS Sigonella, Sicily in support of NATO Operation Sea Guardian, a flexible operation designed to conduct a variety of maritime security tasks. The operation focuses on three core missions: maritime situational awareness, counter-terrorism and regional capacity building.

Republic of China
The last of 12 P-3C Orions on order arrived on 7 June 2017 at Pingtung AB in Taiwan. The first aircraft was delivered in September 2013 and was operational by July 2014.

On 19 June, Spanish P-3M-9/ 22-32 was seen operating out of Djibouti. This P-3M is still in the old scheme without the large emblem on the tail fin.
© P-3 Orion Research Group / 1997 - 2017