P-3 Orion Research Group
this page was last updated on 24 april 2019
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Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion Worldwide News Section
In November 2018 the final phase of VP squadron transitions from P-3C to P-8A commenced. VP-1 became the tenth P-8 squadron and they will be followed by the Grey Knights (VP-46) and Fighting Marlins (VP-40). These transitions are scheduled to be completed in May 2020. Early January VP-1 departed to Jacksonville to continue training on the P-8. Early April VP-46 (RC) has returned from its final P-3 deployment to Shaik Isa and Kadena The P-3C involved were: 160287, 161339, 161587, 161588, 161593, 162318, 162998, 163291 and 163295. The squadron also had one P-3 deployed in Djibouti. The two underlined BuNos were not noted returning to Whidbey Island, so these will probably have been transferred to the next squadron as was 161587, which was flown from Shaik Isa to Kadena. Taking its place late March 2018, for what will be the very last US Navy P-3 deployment was VP-40 (QE). Flying towards Shaik Isa AB in early April were P-3C 158222, 162773 and 162776, while arriving at Kadena in Japan were 161132, 161408, 161587 (ex VP-46) and 161596.
VP-40 is the last active P-3C squadron! According to an article in the Whidbey News-Times the reserves of VP-69 are not scheduled to transition from the P-3C during 2019, while VQ-1 will continue to fly the EP-3E for a few more years.
After more than half a century of a proud and longstanding tradition serving on the P-3C Orion, the last ever class of student flight engineers (FE) graduated from VP-30 on 28 September 2018 at NAS Jacksonville, while the last five VP P-3C student pilots graduated on 24 January 2019. These last graduates joined VP-40 for the last deployment while operating the P-3C. Early 2019 VP-30 has the following P-3C assigned: 160293, 162770, 163290.
On 16 January NASA NP-3B N426NA started a multi-part journey from Wallops Flight Facility to Săo Tomé, a small island off the West coast of Africa to begin the ORACLES mission
On 1 January 2019 the total number of P-3 Orions in storage at AMARG was 172, while two CP-140A 140120 and 140121 were also still present. Rumor has it that both Arcturus will be reduced to scrap during 2019. It is also rumored that another two surplus US Navy P-3C will be scrapped at NAS Whidbey Island.
Over a two-day period, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents from Air and Marine Operations (AMO) foiled an international attempt to smuggle nearly three-tons of cocaine across open waters between 28 February and 2 March. The officers were on board of a CBP P-3 Orion based at the National Air Security Operations Center - Corpus Christi, Tx.
Continuing from the previous updates we present you a review of the former Aero Union P-3 Aerostars (last known location in brackets) as of December 2018
N900AU United Aeronautical Corp (Chico)
N917AU Airstrike Firefighters LLC (Sacramento)
N920AU soc at the yard of United Aeronautical Corp (Tucson)
N921AU Airstrike Firefighters LLC for spare parts (Sacramento)
N922AU Buffalo Airways (Sacramento)
N923AU Airstrike Firefighters LLC (Sacramento)
N924AU 17oct91 w/o; flew into a mountain in Montana
N925AU United Aeronautical Corp (Chico)
N926AU 20apr05 w/o crashed 12 mile north of Chico, CA; destroyed by fire
N927AU United Aeronautical Corp (Chico)
By mid December MHD Rockland Services Inc., based in Starke, Fl. had received five surplus AP-3C from the RAAF. The Orions will be kept in the same condition and used as a pilot trainer for the P-3C.
To celebrate 50 years of P-3 operations and the retirement of the ASW version the RAAF organized an open house at RAAF Base Edinburgh on 1 December. The 50th anniversary fly-past on 30 November 2018 consisted of AP-3C A9-752, A9-662 and A9-661. The plan to fly a box formation was cancelled when A9-665 broke down on takeoff. The Orions took off from Edinburgh and returned to this base after a low level flypast over local landmarks around Edinburgh including Adelaide.
All standard RAAF P-3 operations ended on10 December 2018 with only two aircraft modified for electronic intelligence gathering remaining in service until 2021.
The Evans Head Aviation Museum received a new exhibit, when AP-3C A9-752 was acquired by the Museum at a handover at Lismore Airport on the 16th December. A9-752 flew Edinburgh-Lismore on 9 December.
The final six AP-3C were disposed of as follows:
A9-752 09dec18 to Evans Head Aviation Museum at Lismore
A9-656 05oct18 N656T rr; 23oct18 dep Avalon
A9-661 11dec18 N661MK rr; 14dec19 dep Edinburgh
A9-662 11dec18 N662JD rr; 14dec18 dep Edinburgh
A9-664 14nov18 N664SD rr ; 16nov18 dep Avalon
A9-665 07dec18 N665BD rr; 12dec18 dep Edinburgh
The AP-3C is approaching the end of its career. Just two aircraft (both SIGINT/ELINT equipped) remain in service. They will stay active until 2021 when the four modified Gulfstream G550 aircraft will arrive, which will be designated MC-55A “Peregrine”. This is the present situation:
A9-656 oct18 sold as N656T
A9-657 11 Sqn (until 2021) dec18 SIGINT/ELINT aircraft
A9-658 by nov16 preserved Edinburgh
A9-659 28jun18 flown to Avalon, for the Australian War Museum in Canberra
A9-660 11 Sqn (until 2021) dec18 SIGINT/ELINT aircraft
A9-661 11 Sqn dec18 sold as N661MK (last RAAF flight 10dec18)
A9-662 11 Sqn dec18 sold as N662JD (last RAAF flight 10dec18)
A9-663 oct14 scrapped Edinburgh
A9-664 nov18 sold as N664SD
A9-665 dec18 sold as N665BD
A9-751 16nov17 preserved Point Cook
A9-752 09dec18 flown to Lismore, for Evans Head
A9-753 by jan17 preserved Illawarra rr VH-ORI model 285D
A9-754 26apr91 w/o
A9-755 oct14 scrapped Edinburgh
A9-756 10dec17 preserved Port Adelaide
A9-757 jun18 preserved Darwin
A9-758 oct14 scrapped Edinburgh
A9-759 14apr18 preserved Parkes NSW
A9-760 18apr18 flown to Maroochydore, for Caloundra
In February 2019 EAP-3 A9-660 was present at Nellis AFB to participate in a Red Flag exercise.
AP-3C VH-ORI of HARS was issued with a civilian Certificate of Airworthiness and maintenance release in 2019 and made a first flight as VH-ORI form Illawara Regional Airport on 6 March. It had not flown since 12 December 2016.
A CP-140 Aurora monitoring United Nations sanctions was harassed in international airspace off North Korea by the Chinese military - part of "a pattern of behavior that's inappropriate," according to Canada's top military commander. The incident took place in October 2018 as allied nations monitored the sea lanes for cargo ships and tankers intent on violating embargoes imposed on North Korea by the UN Security Council.
On 14 February CP-140 140116 completed a deployment to Fiji and nearby islands.
During the deployment, the Aurora conducted seven patrol flights to detect fishing vessels suspected of illegal fishing in the Pacific Ocean. This critical data was then provided to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the U.S. Coast Guard. This deployment was part of Operation DRIFTNET, the Canadian Armed Forces’ support to Fisheries and Oceans Canada in protecting wild fish stocks.
Late February CP-140 140112 arrived at NAS Sigonella to participate in the NATO exercise Dynamic Manta 2019.
Canada has significantly increased its contribution to Operation ARTEMIS, the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) ongoing contribution to counter-terrorism and maritime security operations in Middle Eastern and East African waters. Amongst the flying assets was CP-140M 140117 from 405 Squadron, 14 Wing which arrived at Seychelles IAP in Victoria, Seychelles on 29 March.
Since 2008, Operation Atalanta has been protecting international merchant shipping. Germany is there right from the start: twice a year, for three months each, to patrol the coast of East Africa. Early December P-3C 60+06 arrived at Djibouti International airport and it returned to Nordholz on 26 January. On 9 April another detachment started with the arrival of P-3C 60+08 at Djibouti airport.
Starting on 25 February P-3C 60+06 participated in the NATO exercise Dynamic Manta 2019, operating out of NAS Sigonella. A total of six Maritime Patrol Aircraft and two helicopters from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States took part in this annual exercise, which ended on 8 March.
Early April it became known that the German Ministry of Defense and the Marineflieger are considering to modernize the current fleet of eight P-3C CUP to secure the Orions mission until at least 2035. However already the plans are criticized because of the high costs involved.
On 18 December 2018, the Hellenic Ministry of Defense announced that the modernization program of their P-3B fleet will be continued despite the delay in delivery of the first aircraft. The USD 379,6 million contract comprises the re-activation of one and the re-activation and modernization of four P-3B Orions of the Elliniko Polemiko Naftiko (EPN, Hellenic Naval Aviation). The first P-3B to be re-activated (152744) will not be modernized. It will be used for flight training only and support tasks only. The aircraft has been with Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) under supervision of Lockheed Martin at Tanagra air base (Greece) since July 2016. On 25 July of that year, a ceremony was hosted by the EPN, HAI and Lockheed Martin to initiate the official launch of the program. According to the planning 152744 would have been delivered in March 2019, four months later than planned. The delay was caused by a leak in a fuel tank that was detected in September 2018. As a result of that, the required repairs took approximately four months, subsequently delaying the whole project. However the latest reports say that the first P-3B HN will be delivered in 2020. Delivery of the remaining four Orions is planned to be finished by late 2023.
The NATO exercise Trident Juncture 2018 was held in Norway from late October to early November 2018. Participating were P-3C 60+07 from Mfg.3 and CP-140M 140105, 140116 from 14 Wing, all three operating out of Andoya.
Starting on 1 April the exercise Joint Warrior 19-1 was held around Scotland for two weeks. Participating ASW assets were: P-3C 60+06 from Mfg.3, P-3C 3298 from 333 Skv, CP-140M 140112 from 407 Sq and 140115 from 14 Wing, which were all operating out of Prestwick airfield.
Two P-3C of 2 Kokutai, 5062 and 5065, visited Pakistan Naval Station Mehran late January, coming from the detachment at Djibouti airport. The visit was in preparation of the participation in the multinational Mana 2019 exercise which started on 16 February. Mid January P-3C 5070 and 5090 of 5 Kokutai arrived at Djibouti International airport.
On 14 February 2014 the roof of a NIPPI hangar at Atsugi collapsed with ten Orions inside. Eight of these P-3 were badly damaged and were eventually scrapped: JMSDF: 5026, 5042, 5049 and 9133, USN: 159329, 159503, 160283 and 161338. Two would be repaired: UP-3D 9161 and EP-3 9174. Finally on 5 March 2019, after 5 years(!), UP-3D 9161 took to the air again.
The following P-3C have not been reported since late 2016: 5022, 5023, 5025, 5028 and 5030. Considering their age, it is most likely that these airframes have been withdrawn from us. Any confirmation is much appreciated
During a period of tensions between India and Pakistan it was made public that a P-3C of the Pakistan Naval Air Arm had detected and forced back a submarine of the Indian Navy on 4 March. Depicted on the special badge is P-3C #88.
On 15 January a P-3C CUP+ of Esquadra 601 arrived at NAS Sigonella to participate in the NATO led mission Operation Sea Guardian.
P-3C 14809 was flown to CFB Greenwood on 2 March, with a short stop at Shannon airport in Ireland. This same aircraft departed Beja on 6 March for Cape Verde to fly usafricom missions overhead the Gulf of Guinee, with the aim to suppress illegal activities like piracy and illegal fishery. P-3C CUP+ 14807 was flown to Malbork in Poland on 29 March to participate in another NATO Baltic Air Policing operation. The aircraft was due to return on 20 April. It made the headlines because on 1 April it “inadvertently” strayed into Finland’s airspace without permission during one of its first patrols over the Baltic Sea.
P-3M P.3M-08/22-31 of ALA 22 was (again) the Spanish contribution to EU NAVFOR Somalia operation Atalanta. Early March this P-3 was seen on the ramp of Djibouti International airport.
After seven years of storage P-3A P.3-3 was unveiled as a gate guard at Moron AB on 12 April. The Orion is painted in its original Spanish white and grey colors and wears its original code 221-22.