P-3 Orion Research Group
this page was last updated on 19 November 2018
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Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion Worldwide News Section
The caption of the picture on the cover of the May 2018 issue of our ALHR stated that P-3C AIP 158567 was on its way home. That was true at the time when the picture was taken but in the end the aircraft never made it. On the final leg from NAS Patuxent River to NAS Whidbey Island on Friday, 13 April, the aircraft was heavily damaged in a hail storm. The crew decided to make an emergency landing at Eppley Airfield, Omaha (Nebraska). Since this was qualified as a Class A accident, the aircraft never flew again and was scrapped on site and was gone by August.
Another correction to our previous updates concerns VP-40 (QE), because this squadron did not start the transition to the P-8 when it returned from its deployment in April. Plans had changed and VP-40 will now make one more (final) deployment with the P-3 which will start in April 2019.
VP-1 (YB) returned to Whidbey Island from their last deployment in October, for which they used the name 'The last ride'. Deployed in the Middle East were 158222, 160287, 161407, 161414, 161589, 162773 and 163295, while two BMUP's were stationed at Kadena in Japan: 161411 and 161596. Both 160287 and 163295 remained at Shaik Isa and were transferred to VP-46.
Late March VP-46 (RC) has arrived at Shaik Isa AB with five P-3C: 161587, 161588, 162318, 162998 and 163291, while two P-3C BMUP+ were sent to Kadena 161593 and 161339. The squadron also has one P-3 deployed in Djibouti. Late December 2017 VP-46 embarked on a four-month detachment to MCAS Kaneohe Bay in support of the U.S. Pacific Fleetís Maritime Homeland Defense (HLD) mission.
VP-40, VP-46 and VQ-1 participated in the biannual exercise Valiant Shield 2018 which was held in the Pacific around Andersen AFB on Guam for a week starting on 17 September.
During late 2017 NASA at Wallops Island has obtained two former U.S. Navy P-3C Orionís to act as a spares source for their P-3 Orion. Both 163000 and 163293 were seen outside in June with several parts already missing.
Former VP-30 P-3C 156515 was officially put on display at the Hickory Aviation Museum, Hickory, NC on 18 May.
26 July marked the completion of the last Conventional Weapons Technical Proficiency Inspection (CWTPI) of an active duty P-3 Squadron. Successful completion of CWTPI shows a squadron is prepared to use Search and Kill stores while deployed. The completion of this evolution will mark another milestone in the last Inter-deployment Readiness Cycle of VP-40.
The last US Navy patrol squadrons to fly the P-3C will be VP-62 and VP-69, which the Navy intends to recapitalize with P-8A when aircraft inventory can support.
The US Navy has established a new unit to sustain a Special Mission Capability in its Maritime Patrol Community with the coming retirement of the P-3 Orion aircraft. A 10 September 2018 internal directive from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations directed the establishment on that date of Fleet Support Unit (FSU) One at NAS Jacksonville (FL), one of two sites that serve as home bases for the Navyís P-8A Poseidon maritime patrols aircraft. According to the directive, FSU-1 will configure and operate P-8 Poseidons to provide a follow-on Special Mission Capability in place of VPU-2 P-3Cs due to their deactivation in Fiscal Year 2019 in concert with the phase-out of the P-3C from operational active-duty patrol squadrons. The mission of the unit will be to provide oversight, training, operations, maintenance, and configuration management for the P-8 quick reaction capability aircraft. Fleet Support Unit One will have an officer in charge rather than a commanding officer, who will report to commander, Patrol Reconnaissance Wing 11, at Jacksonville.
As the P-3 gives way to the new P-8A, Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Detachment Jacksonville marked a milestone on 11 September as the unit tested its last T-56 engine. Fleet Readiness Center Northwest at NAS Whidbey Island will conduct any remaining T-56 testing for the Navy.
VQ-1ís EP-3E 157316, flying in international airspace over the Black Sea, was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet on 5 November in an unsafe and unprofessional manner, according a statement from the Navy. During an encounter that lasted a total of 25 minutes, the Russian Su-27 Flanker passed directly in front of the US EP-3E aircraft at a high speed. The crew reported turbulence following that initial interaction in which the direct pass occurred. The Flanker then made a second pass of EP-3E and applied its afterburner while conducting a banking maneuver, which is believed to have caused a vibration that was experienced by the American crew. The EP-3E was operating from Souda Bay in Greece.
Airstrike Firefighters announced on 23 August that the company has signed a call when needed agreement with the State of Colorado, Division of Fire Prevention and Control to provide large airtanker services for wildland fire suppression. The deal is for five years, and at the start of the contract only P-3A Aerostar N923AU was available but they plan to add more P-3's to the contract as the State requires. They expect to have three operational P-3's by the spring of 2019. Since May 2017 Airstrike has been refurbishing Tanker 23 at Sacramento McClellan Airport concentrating on inspections and the structural integrity program. In August Tanker 23 was ready to fight fire, had a brand-new Airworthiness Plan, was IAB approved, and was awaiting the Forest Service inspection.
A company called MHD Rockland Services Inc., based in Starke, Fl. has bought five surplus AP-3C Orions from the RAAF. Their first aircraft (A9-656) was registered N656T on 5 October and left Avalon airfield in Australia on 23 October on a ferry flight to Florida. The second one (A9-664) was registered N664SD on 14 november 2018 and departed Avalon the next day. The Orions will be kept in the same condition and used as pilot trainers for the P-3C. The tactical equipment has been de-milled, although the stations are still there and will remain in place. The company expects to have all five aircraft by February 2019. The other three aircraft are AP-3Cís A9-661 (N661MK), A9-662 (N662JD) and A9-665 (N665BD).
AP-3C A9-661 of 10 Sqd arrived at NAF Atsugi in Japan on 22 July 2018. During September it was joined by A9-665. The Orions were conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in the East China Sea as part of Operation Argos - Australia's contribution to enforcing United Nations sanctions against North Korea.
Held biannually, Exercise Kakadu 2018 is an Australian-led multi-lateral, maritime exercise involving Australian and 26 participating nations' Defence Forces in the Northern Territory. The exercise was held early September 2018 and amongst the participants were AP-3Cís A9-662 and A9-664 from No. 10 Squadron.
On 6 November AP-3C A9-662 flew the last operational P-3 Gateway sortie from Butterworth.
AP-3C Orion A9-760 was handed over to the Queensland Air Museum at Sunshine Coast Airport, Maroochydore on 11 June. The aircraft will be dismantled for transportation to the museum at Caloundra early in 2019 and following reassembly will join its predecessor RAAF operated maritime Lockheeds, the PV-1 Ventura and SP-2H Neptune.
With fourteen of the AP-3C fleet gone it is time to make a review (with thanks to the Adastron website):
A9-751 to Point Cook on delivery to the RAAF Museum. on 16nov17
A9-752 SOC at Edinburgh in 2018; available for Australian Heritage Organizations
A9-753 handed over to HARS at Albion Park on 03nov17; r/r VH-ORI on 25jan18
A9-754 Ditched off Cocos Islands on 26apr91
A9-755 scrapped at Edinburgh on 04oct14
A9-756 SOC at Edinburgh in oct14
to South Australian Aviation Museum without right wing on 10dec17
A9-757 to Darwin Aviation Museum on 23jun18
A9-758 scrapped at Edinburgh on 04oct14
A9-759 delivered to HARS at Parkes on 15feb18; officially handed over on 17jul18
A9-760 to Queensland Air Museum on 11jun18
A9-656 to MHD Rockland as N656T on 02oct18
A9-658 flown for the last time and withdrawn from service on 21oct16. Used as a non-flying but
taxyable ground trainer. To be gate-guard at Edinburgh
A9-659 last flight to Avalon on 28jun18; stored for the Australian War Memorial
A9-663 scrapped at Edinburgh on 04oct14
A9-664 to MHD Rockland as N664SD on 14nov18
Remaining Orions as of November 2018 are AP-3C A9-661, A9-662, A9-665 plus EAP-3C A9-657 and A9-660.
434 Squadron was reborn as 434 Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron on 31 May with several test and evaluation flights under its command including the Long-Range Patrol Operational Test and Evaluation Flight at Greenwood for the CP-140 Aurora.
During October CP-140M 140117 was deployed to Hato, Curacao to detect and stop drugs traffickers.
Early September CP-140 140102 was transported by road to the National Air Force Museum of Canada which is situated at Trenton, Ontario.
In the first week of May the second P-3ACH 407 has arrived in Canada to have a structural midlife upgrade with IMP at Halifax NS. The first P-3ACH 404 will have returned to Chile by now.
On 18 June P-3C 60+08 returned to Nordholz after a deployment of three months in Djibouti for Operation Atalanta. Because the maintenance crew had a lot of trouble with this Orion the name "Hateful 8" was painted on the nosewheel door.
The German Navy has a new problem. Early October a warehouse at Ingolstadt burnt down to the ground. This warehouse was used by Airbus for the storage of spare parts and parts for the rewinging of the P-3C fleet.
This country is presently working to get five P-3B Orions back in the air again. These include BuNo 152744 which is completing reactivation and 3 Phase PDM. This will probably be used for crew training. The other four are BuNos 153415, 153424, 153427 and 153441, which are all present at Tanagra AB. Two aircraft are currently undergoing MLU induction. The first one is 153415, while 153441 will be second.
The RIMPAC 2018 exercise started on 26 June and lasted until 2 August. Operating out of MCB Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay were the following Orions/Aurora:
RCAF CP-140M 140118 (407 (LRP) Sq)
JMSDF P-3C 5092 (5 Kok), 5093 (5 Kok)
RoKAF P-3C 950905
RNZAF P-3K2 NZ4205, NZ420. (5 Sq)
USN P-3C AIP 162318, 163291 (both VP-46)
USN P-3C AIP 162777 (VP-69)
USN P-3C AIP 161333 (VP-62)
Also present was an unknown EP-3E of VQ-1
During the show at Farnborough early July UTC Aerospace Systems Propeller Systems, announced, that their NP2000 propeller upgrade, is planned to become available for the Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion. This upgrade has already been deployed on the Grumman E-2 and C-2 since 2004, and is also suitable for operators who prefer to upgrade legacy C-130s.
NATO Allied Maritime Command-led exercise Dynamic Mongoose 2018 was held in the area between Scotland and Norway from 25 June until 6 July. Operating out of RAF Lossiemouth were RCAF CP-140M's 140103 and 140111.
Starting in September RNZAF P-3K2 NZ4206 carried out patrols of international waters in North Asia for signs of vessels undertaking activities that break UN sanctions against North Korea. New Zealand joined Australia in announcing the deployment of maritime patrol aircraft to help implement United Nations sanctions against North Korea. Australia's Defence Minister Christopher Pyne also put out a statement in which he said Australia was sending two AP-3C Orions. Also flying out of Kadena was CP-140M 140104.
Ecuador is resuming an anti-drug air operation in cooperation with the USA, a decade after the South American nation booted the U.S. military from an air base. Early October a US Navy P-3C Orion equipped with technology that can help it detect illegal fishing boats or vessels carrying drugs began test flights over Ecuador.
According to a Japanese expert on maritime security, Japan is planning to export or donate used P-3C Orions to Sri Lanka as a part of capacity building measures under Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy program to meet a possible threat from Chinese submarines. Previously a similar plan was announced for The Philippines.
P-3C 5087 of 5 Kokutai was part of the DAPE detachment at Djibouti in August 2018.
This country announced on 9 July that it has agreed to purchase four Boeing P-8A Poseidon from the United States Government. The four aircraft will replace the six P-3K2 Orions that have been operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force since 1966. The current Orion fleet will reach the end of their expected operational life in 2025.
Rumours that the Norwegian P-3's were grounded in June proved to be false. There was an issue with one aircraft undergoing phase inspection, however the problems are more on the personnel front. A large part of the experienced P-3 technicians will retire early before they get due to move to Evenes, or start courses on the P-8.
On 26 June Portuguese P-3C CUP+ 14811 started another Baltic deployment. The Orion operated out of Latvia AF äiauliai Air Base for eight weeks. The detachment ended on 18 August with the return of the P-3C to Beja.
On 30 August P-3C 14808 arrived at NAS Sigonella, Italy to take part again in Operation Sophia 2018 (EURONAVFOR MED). The aircraft was relieved by P-3C 14809 which ended the involvement after 30 days, on 3 October.
In October 2018 this country celebrated the tenth anniversary of its deployment to Djibouti, with a parade, coinciding with the Spanish National Day celebrations. A lot has changed over the last ten years, including the types of aircraft used: with a P-3 Orion from 11th Wing (Morůn Air Base) taking over from the D4s (CN-235s). Their main mission is to fly over the operational areas, detect suspicious skiffs and guide warships to their position. The Orions are also able to collect intelligence in specific areas. The aircraft are equipped with several advanced surveillance systems, which significantly enhance EU NAVFORís Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability in the Somali Basin and Gulf of Aden.