P-3 Orion Research Group
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this page was last updated on 1 March 2017
© P-3 Orion Research Group / 1997 - 2015
Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion Worldwide News Section

United States
If all goes to schedule in March, there will be another changing of the guards at the various locations. VP-1 will leave Shaik Isa AB and its detachments at Kadena and in Turkey. We expect VP-46 (RC) to take its place. VP-47 (RD) will leave Kadena in Japan and Comalapa in El Salvador after being replaced by VP-9 (PD).

During the six-month deployment, VP-47 was participating in Exercise Mahi Tangaroa as part of the New Zealand International Naval Review with P-3C 158563 when an earthquake occurred on November 20. Operating out of Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Whenuapai, VP-47's aircrew, accompanied by two RNZAF airmen, took off on a five-hour mission to assess the area surrounding Kaikora and was able to identify numerous impassible roads covered in debris. Additionally, they were able to assess bridges that were cracked and buckling and rail lines that were bent beyond use.
VP-47 also conducted a five day bilateral training event in Thailand starting on December 5, which included a joint symposium and a Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) training flight with the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) Squadron 102 to practice maritime tactics, techniques, and procedures in support of Sea Survex 2017-1. During the combined U.S. and Thai training events, VP-47 aircrew members operated with a Fokker F-27 maritime patrol crew from the RTN. Involved was P-3C 158224 while P-3T 1205 was also on the ramp.
On January 28, P-3C 161407 of VP-47 attended the Ilopango Airshow 2017 at San Salvador airport in El Salvador.
This is the Golden Swordsmen's last deployment with the P-3C aircraft. VP-47 is the second of three Hawaii-based squadrons to make the move to Whidbey Island and transition to the P-8A.

A Chinese KJ-200 early warning aircraft and a US Navy P-3C had an “unsafe” encounter in international airspace over the South China Sea on January 8. This term usually implies planes flying too close to one another and in fact they were reported to be within 1,000 feet distance.  According to Pacific Command the P-3C was on a routine mission and was operating according to international law. One day after the incident at least three US Navy P-3 were seen operating out of Clark AB in The Philippines: 161594 of VP-47, 161414 of VP-1 and EP-3E 159893 of VQ-1. All were detached from Kadena.

During Late January P-3C 161587 of VP-1 was replaced by 161126 at Shaik Isa AB. VP-1 (YB) has been involved in providing critical overwatch in counter-insurgency operations across the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Deployed in the Middle East were 159326, 161126, 161404, 162317, 162318, 162998 and 163295, while at Kadena were 161408 and 161414, both BMUP+ Orions.

At NAS Jacksonville the P-3 initial and refresher training with VP-30 (LL) will remain active until 2019. By the end of 2019 the twelve active component squadrons, plus VP-30, will be an all P-8 force. The two reserve squadrons will continue to augment the active squadrons with LSRS equipped P-3’s until introduction of the P-8’s Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) and with the eventual retirement of the last reserve P-3s, VP-62 (LT) and VP-69 (PJ) will continue to serve in support of Triton operations.

An 18-month-old plan to equip the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton with a signals intelligence payload will proceed after the US Navy received approval from top Pentagon officials in August 2016. The navy will field low- and high-band signals receivers on the MQ-4C starting in Fiscal 2021, adding to the Triton's powerful, Northrop-designed maritime patrol radar. The first two MQ-4Cs will be delivered in Fiscal Year 2018 with a maritime reconnaissance capability only. Three years later, the first MQ-4Cs augmented with a SIGINT payload are scheduled to achieve initial operational capability. The upgrade plan allows the navy to replace the EP-3E fleet without incurring the expense of a dedicated replacement programme, but requires operators to adapt the mission from crewed reconnaissance aircraft to a UAV that transmits SIGINT data to a ground station in real time. Present plans indicate that EP-3E operations will stop by 2021. Triton will fly four aircraft at each of its proposed five surveillance orbits in Guam, Italy, the Persian Gulf and and both US coasts.

At Point Mugu VX-30 operated the following six Orions as of October 2016:
300 BuNo 158227 NP-3C
303 BuNo 163294 P-3C AIP+
305 BuNo 158926 P-3C IIIR
306 BuNo 161412 P-3C BMUP
341 BuNo 150521 NP-3C
357 BuNo 153442 NP-3C.
P-3C 158926 was flown to AMARG for storage early December 2016.

WP-3D N42RF, also known as “Kermit,” departed for Ireland on January 18, 2017 on its first major deployment since undergoing an extensive overhaul and upgrades. Operating from Shannon, Ireland, the aircraft was supporting a mission called “Ocean Winds,” a NOAA Satellite and Information Service multi-year project whose objective is to improve our understanding of satellite-based ocean surface wind measurements in the high wind regions of winter storms over the North Atlantic. Best known for its role as a “hurricane hunter,” N42RF returned to the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center in October 2016 after a 19-month overhaul at the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center Southeast at NAS Jacksonville, Fl. The aircraft has been refitted with newly refurbished wings and tail, more fuel-efficient engines, and state-of-the-art avionics. Kermit also sports a new paint scheme. NOAA’s other WP-3D Orion, “Miss Piggy” (N43RF), will undergo a similar overhaul beginning mid-2017 as part of a comprehensive “nose-to-tail” NOAA project to extend the service life of the agency’s two WP-3D Orions with another 15 to 20 years.

A crew from RAAF Base Edinburgh No 292 Squadron took AP-3C Orion A9-658 aircraft on her last flight on 21st October 2016, before it’s decommissioned from service. No 92 Wing's fleet of Orion aircraft are gradually being phased out by 2018-2019, with the arrival of the first P-8A Poseidon in November 2016. Along with the MQ-4C Triton the two aircraft will eventually replace the existing Air Force AP-3C Orions. The RAAF published an official schedule for the withdrawal of the Australian Orions, according to which A9-657 and A9-660 will be disposed of by destruction during December 2020.

December 2016 marked the 10th year of Operation Caribbe, Canada’s contribution to the multi-national effort to stem the flow of drugs and smuggling in the Caribbean Sea and the Eastern Pacific Ocean. That multi-national effort, Operation Martillo, involves Western Hemisphere and European nations and is led by the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South. Over 10 years, the Royal Canadian Air Force has deployed CP-140 Aurora long range patrol aircraft 39 times and flown a total of 2,138 hours, providing important surveillance, detection, and disruption capabilities.

In January 2017, the Aurora situation was the following:
140101 M+ 14W
140102 SOC Greenwood dec2016 was destined for a museum
140103 M under repair at Greenwood after accident on 27aug2015
140104 M 14W
140105 M 407(LRP)Sq/19W
140106 + 14W
140107 SOC Comox 11Nov2016 destined for Comox museum
140108 M 14W
140109 Instructoral Greenwood
140110 407(LRP)Sq/19W
140111 M 407(LRP)Sq/19W
140112 M 14W
140113 14W
140114 M 14W
140115 M+ 14W
140116 14W
140117 M+ 14W
140118 M 14W
140119 wfu Greenwood Military Aviation Museum
140120 wfu AMARG mar11
140121 wfu AMARG feb11

M = CP-140M Block III; + = Inmarsat dome
So far eleven Auroras have received the Block III upgrade, which means that here are still three to go.

During 2017 all Comox based squadrons will receive anniversary tail markings to celebrate that CFB Comox was opened 75 years ago.

The first Chilean Navy P-3ACH Orion departed Naval Air Base Concon and arrived at IMP Aerospace of Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 22 January to start a structural midlife upgrade (SMU). The contract comprises SMUs for two P-3ACH, which were acquired by Chile in 1993, and have already accumulated 19,000 flight hours on their airframes.
The aircraft are to have some structural components of the fuselage and wings replaced, allowing the renewed airframes to continue flying for another 15,000 hours, which is enough for about 20 years of additional life service. The work will take about 18 months during which the Orion will also receive a ‘glass cockpit’.

Former Dutch Navy P-3C 60+02 has only four hours on the clocks since it departed Valkenburg on June 20, 2006. It has been used as a trainer at Nordholz until April 26, 2012 when it was flown to EADS at Manching. On February 7, 2017 it was seen again at Manching during an engine test and on February 16, it took to the air again for a first three-hour test flight! It may well be redelivered to Mfg.3 at Nordholz soon.

The first P-3B Orion which presently is undergoing an upgrade is P-3B 153441, which landed at Tanagra AB on September 15, 2016. Present plans expect the first Greek P-3B to be operational again by the end of 2017. The second, third and fourth will be redelivered from the end of 2020 onwards. Training of pilots and flight engineers will be done on P-3B 152744 by US Navy and LSI instructors.

2 Kokutai celebrated the 1700th hour of flying out of Djibouti on December 17, 2016. Based at Djibouti were 5045 and an unknown example. This was the 7th deployment of 2 Kok to Djibouti and both Orions returned to Hachinohe during February, after having been replaced by 1 Kokutai. 3 Kok is no longer involved in this deployment since this unit is transferring to the new P-1. On 26 January P-3C’s 5046 and 5062 of 1 Kokutai departed Kanoya for Djibouti for their deployment.

During October 2016, the JMSDF operated a total of 63 P-3C Orions, which means five have been withdrawn from use during 2016. In total the number of retired Orions is 28. Of those still flying 22 are Update II models while the other 41 Orions are Update III.

New Zealand
According to the spokesman at the IOSC the last P-3K2 Orion will be withdrawn from service during 2025.

South Korea
On January 1, 2017, a Republic of Korea Navy P-3CK Orion on a routine mission over the East Sea lost three Harpoon anti-ship missiles, a torpedo and depth charges after a crew member accidentally activated the emergency jettison switch. The P-3 loadout fell into waters 30 miles east of Yangyang on the country’s northeastern coast around 6:10 a.m. RoKN sources said that the weapons were not armed when they were released so there is little danger of them exploding by mistake. However, the service dispatched a mine sweeper and salvage ship to the area to retrieve the weapons. Since no mechanical defects caused the release of the aircraft loadout, the P-3CK fleet was not grounded and continued to perform regular patrols, although closer inspections have been conducted in regards to operations to ensure that such incidents will not occur again in the future.

On January 10, a P-3M of Grupo 22 passed the 75.000 hour mark operating out of Djibouti on an Atalanta mission against pirates in the Indian Ocean.
© P-3 Orion Research Group / 1997 - 2017