P-3 Orion Research Group
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this page was last updated on 2 May 2022
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Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion Worldwide News Section

United States
During the war, which Russia started against Ukraine on 22 February 2022 several US intelligence gathering airplanes where active on a daily base flying along the eastern border of free Europe. Amongst these were of course the trustful EP-3E Aries II Orions of VQ-1, two of which were operating out of Souda Bay, Crete during March and April.

As we all know the end of P-3 operations is getting nearer. However, during the start of 2022 US Navy P-3’s were still active, mainly flying over the continental USA. The Reserves of VP-62 and VP-69 are still operating out of their respective home base NAS Jacksonville and NAS Whidbey Island with the P-3C BMUP+. VQ-1 still has several P-3C AIP for training duties, which fly out of NAS Whidbey Island along with the EP-3E Aries II. This squadron also has a two-plane detachment at Kadena AB and single plane detachments at Souda Bay, Greece and at Shaik Isa AB in Bahrain. VX-30 still operates five P-3C AIP and a single NP-3D out of NAS Point Mugu. The other units, VP-30 and VXS-1, continue to fly the P-3C on a regular base.

P-3C 161589, a BUPERS Dallas bird, returned home on 26 April, after a few months of absence. She appeared to have been modified with an EP-3E style radome on top of the fuselage, so it seems that this bird still has a career ahead. This configuration makes the bird easy to recognize.

In April 2022 the US Navy still operated the following (26) P-3’s:
VP-30   160293, 161404, 161590, 162318, 163295
VP-62   161121, 161586, 161587
VP-69   161339, 161405, 161415
VQ-1     160610, 161414, 161588, 162777, 163001 + 11   EP-3E
VX-30   150521, 158934, 162999, 163290, 163291, 163294
VXS-1   158570, 158912, 161337?
BUPERS SDC    161589

Those underlined have not yet been reported during 2022 but could well be in deep maintenance. Just for the record: during the year 2021 only one P-3C has arrived at AMARG for storage, being 161593 which arrived on 2 April 2021. No airframes have been taken out of storage for scrapping.

An unknown P-3 marked as DCFD Fire Rescue Trainer is in use with the Fire department at Greenville Donaldson airport, SC. Anyone for the BuNo ?

Australia
Former RAAF AP-3C, which was taken apart in large components at Lismore airport for future display at Evans Head Heritage Aviation Museum, washed away when the airport flooded after heavy rainfall. Fuselage, wings and tail section of the Orion were salvaged back to the Lismore airport tarmac in April and are being cleaned up and made ready for transport to the museum.

Brazil
In December 2021 the airframe of P-3AM FAB7208 was offered by auction for sale to interested parties registered by the auctioneer Joao Emilio. The final destination of the fuselage and its components was obligatory cutting and scrapping.

Canada
According to an article in Defence Stories dated 24 November 2021, the CP-140 Block IV moved one step closer to Technical Airworthiness certification. From November 2020 to April 2021, an Integrated Test Team conducted comprehensive flight testing on a Block IV-modified CP-140 Aurora. The team included personnel from the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment (AETE) and 415 Long Range Patrol Force Development Squadron who conducted testing on the Aurora Incremental Modification Project (AIMP) aircraft. Flight tests were initially conducted from IMP Aerospace in Halifax and then the team relocated to 14 Wing in Greenwood in late December 2020.
Flight testing was required because the Block IV design added components to the external surface of the CP-140 which changed the aerodynamic characteristics of the aircraft and had the potential to affect the flying and handling qualities. These components included a large Wideband Global SATCOM radome on the upper fuselage, multiple smaller fairings as part of the Directed Infrared Counter Measures system, antennas for the Tactical Data Link 16 system and a new anti-collision light on top of the vertical stabilizer. The CP-140 Block IV flight test was the culmination of a significant engineering effort to assess aircraft behavior prior to AETE flight testing, which included computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and wind tunnel test (WTT). The AETE flight test data were used to support certification of the Block IV modification by comparing CP-140 Block IV aircraft to the original CP-140. In February 2022 the first operational flight of a Block IV Aurora was completed out of CFB Greenwood.

The crew of CP-140M 140103 from 407 LRP Squadron successfully defended their Dragon Belt in this year’s Sea Dragon ASW competition which was held between 5 and 20 January 2022 at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Other participants came from the USA, Australia, India (all P-8), South Korea (P-3) and Japan (P-1).

Exercise Dynamic Manta 22 was held at NAS Sigonella from 20 February to 3 March. The aim of Dynamic Manta is to exercise submarine warfare and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) war-fighting capabilities for submarines, ASW surface units and maritime aircraft in order to conduct sea control and sea denial related naval tasks in preparation for future collective defense and crisis response operations. Participants were GN P-3C 60+08 and RCAF CP-140M 140108, 140117 flown by crews from 405 and 407 (LRP) Squadrons.

One day after Russia invaded Ukraine op 22 February 2022, Canada said they would send one CP-140M to Europe, to patrol the Baltic area because of the current tensions.

Germany
On 18 March, after three years and nine months, German Navy's P-3C 60+03 was seen doing a test flight from Manching Ingolstadt. It is the second and last aircraft with a pair of new wings. Finally on 27 April she was delivered to Nordholz. On that day all four airworthy German Orions were in the air.

Other P-3C still active are in 2022 are 60+04, 60+06 and 60+08. The latter was present at NAS Sigonella from 20 February to 3 March to participate in exercise Dynamic Manta 2022. On 4 April P-3C 60+04 arrived at Keflavik to participate in the ASW part of the NATO exercise Northern Viking. 60+06 returned to the air again on 30 March for a first test flight after being grounded for fourteen months. Its first mission was flown on 12 April. On 29 April 60+04 flew to Ämari in Estonia to monitor the eastern part of the Baltic Sea from there for a couple of days.

The four Orions which were decommissioned in 2021 were 60+01, 60+02, 60+05 and 60+07.

In April 2022 the German Navy Orion fleet status was as follows:
60+01  wfu Nordholz - exploded fuel tank
60+02  wfu Manching; too far dismantled for Avionics upgrade
60+03  Manching after MLU; test flight on 18 March
60+04  operating out of Nordholz
60+05  wfu stored at Nordholz
60+06  operating out of Nordholz
60+07  wfu stored at Nordholz
60+08  operating out of Nordholz

Japan
Late September there was another change of the squadron deployed to Djibouti, engaged in anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. Two P-3C of 2 Kokutai departed Hachinohe and headed for Djibouti on 27 September replacing two P-3C (5059 + ?) of 5 Kokutai, which returned to Naha Air Base on 1 October 2021.

JMSDF P-3C’s and USN P-8A’s conducted joint Anti-submarine warfare training off Sanriku in the Pacific Ocean on 17 and 18 March. The training was aimed at improving the tactical skills of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and improving interoperability with the US Navy. The JMSDF and the USN also conducted electronic warfare training in the first half of March with P-3C, OP-3C and UP-3D, increasing interoperability according to the characteristics of the mission. The JMSDF and the USN collaborated with ships in the South China Sea, as well as with an AP-3C Orion of the Royal Australian Air Force

New Zealand
On 15 January 2022 a huge eruption of a volcano near Tonga caused a tsunami, which was felt across the Pacific Ocean. P-3K2 NZ4204 was one of the first airplanes which was flown to Tonga on Monday 17 January to assist in an initial impact assessment of the area and low-lying islands. The mission was to fly first over the Ha’apai group of islands and then fly over Tongatapu to check the runway and port.

After 37 years and more than 22,000 flying hours, P-3K2 NZ4206 departed Base Auckland for the last time on 19 January 2022. NZ4206 was often the ‘go to’ aircraft used for Southern Ocean patrols and recently conducted her final operational deployment patrolling in South East Asia contributing to the UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea. NZ4206 will retire now after her last flight to Base Woodbourne.

During March a crew on an RNZAF P-3K2 has conducted patrols in the western and central Pacific as part of Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, FFA operations to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Pakistan
During the annual fly past in March three Pakistan Navy P-3C, 80, 82 and 86, were seen performing a formation fly past over PAF base Nur Kahr, on 29 March 2022, just to prove these P-3s are still operational.

Portugal
On 30 March P-3C CUP 14810 was noted flying over Scotland, which is a rather uncommon destination. The Orion was performing SAR duties on the Keflavik-Lossiemouth leg for four Portuguese F-16’s returning from an Iceland Air Policing deployment.

P-3C CUP 14809 participated in a fly past over Lisbon on 3 April, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic which started near the Belém Tower in Lisbon on 30 March 1922.

Early 2022 P-3C CUPs 14809 and 14810 are the only two Portuguese Orions which are flown operational. Another one (probably 14808) is used as a bounce bird.

South Korea
According to the South Korean Navy on 17 February Patrol Squadron 615 has reached a milestone of mishap-free flights over the past 40 years since its establishment. The squadron, based on the southern resort island of Jeju, achieved the record, having logged a total flight distance of 15.3 million kilometers, equivalent to traveling around the Earth 380 times, according to the navy. Launched in February 1982, the squadron currently operates the 16 P-3C/CK Orions to cover the southwestern part of the Korean Peninsula and carry out anti-submarine and anti-ship missions.

Spain
Late December 2021 P.3M-08/22-31 of ALA 22 was present at the BA188 “Coronel Massart” airbase in Djibouti, supporting Operation Atalanta, the operation to fight piracy off the Horn of Africa. It returned to Spain early March 2022 after being replaced by P.3M-12/22-35. But after four months, on 25 April, P.3M-08 made its final flight.

Although a replacement has not yet been found it has become clear, that the only remaining Spanish Orion will be withdrawn from use during 2022. There was an agreement between the Spanish Government and Airbus for four Casa 295, but the latest news is that this option is "frozen".