United States An EP-3E Aries II of VQ-1, reported as BuNo 157326, was intercepted at close range by a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter over the Black Sea on 29 January. The Su-27 Flanker, most probably operating from Sevastopol Belbek Airport and assigned to the 38th Fighter Aviation Regiment, came within five feet of the Orion before crossing through the aircraft’s flight path, forcing it to fly through the Su-27’s jet wash. The EP-3E was forced to veer off course, made a 15-degree roll and experienced violent turbulence. The crew decided to end their mission prematurely. The duration of the intercept lasted two hours and 40 minutes.
Early April VP-40 (QE) left Shaik Isa AB in Bahrain and NAF Kadena in Japan, after its final deployment with the P-3C, and returned home to NAS Whidbey Island where it will start the transition to the P-8. Deployed in the Middle East were 158224, 158567,159326,161132, 161408, 162776 and 162998, while based at Kadena were 161596 and 163291. Late March the squadron was replaced by VP-1 (YB): Orions noted so far are: 158222, 160287,161414, 161589, 162773 and 163295.
At NAS Jacksonville the last P-3 class will start training with VP-30 in June 2018.
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser a P-3C Orion airplane monument put up by the Navy nearly two decades ago to memorialize a long history of maritime patrol service at NAS Barbers Point has been removed early March, creating a backlash in the community and concern over how the process was handled. The Navy dedicated the base memorial, a one-fifteenth-scale fiberglass P-3C Orion on a steel pole surrounded by a rock wall, when the base closed in 1999 to preserve the legacy of 57 years of fleet service. The monument was transferred to the Kaneohe Bay.
NP-3C 153442, was indeed transferred from AMARG to the US Customs, or Dept. of Homeland Security / Customs and Border Patrol (DHS/CBP), but when corrosion was discovered it was decided not operate it again.
It is noteworthy that so far during 2018 only one P-3 Orion (161766/RC) arrived at AMARG for storage. The total number of Orions present at AMARG late March is 178.
In February it was reported that two companies expect to bring some of the Lockheed P-3 Orions formerly owned by Aero Union back into the aerial firefighting fleet. Buffalo Airways and Airstrike Firefighters are both actively working on aircraft, putting them through an “intensive and expensive inspection program”, according to Bill Douglass, President of Airstrike. One of the reasons the U.S. Forest Service cancelled the air tanker contract with Aero Union was that certain required inspections were not being done. Tanker 22 N922AU of Buffalo Airways departed Keystone Heights Airpark for California early in February. Avenger Engineering, has recently carried out the inspections on Tanker 23 N923AU and this Orion is expected to be ready to fight fire later this Spring. When they finish T-23 Airstrike plans to begin work on another P-3, Tanker 17, and later take on others as they have time.
Argentina After cracks were found in the wing of P-3B 0869/6-P-53 this was again put in storage during October 2017. However, Argentina urgently wants ready-to-fly Orions and that is why they turned to the US Navy as reported earlier. The idea is to obtain a couple of currently active P-3C when these are replaced by the P-8A. If this plan becomes successful the old P-3B may either be refurbished or retired altogether.
Australia The fuselage, starboard wing and tail of AP-3C Orion A9-756 have arrived at SAAM on Sunday morning 10 December from 92 Wing RAAF Base Edinburgh. This was the RAAF’s sixth Orion serving with 92 Wing since 1978 and will be the largest aircraft by far in SAAM’s collection.
The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) has received a second AP-3C for their Parks Aviation Museum. A9-759 was flown in on 15 February and it is expected to remain on static display, although some sources say it will be used as a spare parts bird to keep A9-753 flying as part of their historic flight.
During 2018 the RAAF is celebrating 60 years of the Royal Australian Air Force supporting combat operations from RMAF Butterworth and 60 years of mutual, friendly cooperation with Malaysia, the RMAF and the people of Penang. Planning is underway for a series of events beginning the 25th June, culminating with an open day at RMAF Butterworth, a joint RMAF/RAAF Parade which will include a fly past and a formal reception on the 29th of June
In the weekend 16-18 November there will be a significant anniversary coming up at RAAF Edinburgh celebrating the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first Lockheed P-3B’s, A9-294, A9-295 and A9-297 after their delivery flights.
An American company had plans to start a flying school for foreign P-3 operators and mid 2017 asked the Australian government if it would be possible to buy nine AP-3C Orions once they were replaced by the P-8. Sadly, the Property Disposal Office decided early 2018 that the transfer would take too long and prefers to have the Orions scrapped or sent to a museum.
Brazil Early December P-3AM FAB7203 of 1º/7º GA visited Portugal to participate in the exercise BRAPOR 2017, which was meant to exchange knowledge and experience about the P-3 Orion between the two countries.
Canada Members of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CP-140 Aurora squadrons have maintained a presence on Operation Impact as part of Air Task Force-Iraq since Canada joined the Coalition to counter Daesh in October 2014. The final Aurora #140101 returned to CFB Greenwood on 16 December 2017.
During Operation Impact, two Auroras deployed on short notice to provide an essential overland intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability to the Coalition using a number of upgraded, technologically-advanced sensors. The Aurora detachment flew 840 missions and contributed directly to the defeat of Daesh by locating potential targets and helping the Coalition to build an accurate picture of what was happening on the ground.
Chili P-3ACH 404 has been with IMP at Halifax since January 2016 and it is expected to return to the squadron in the second quarter of 2018. After its return P-3ACH 407 will receive the same structural midlife upgrade (SMU) in Canada, including new wings. The current Allison T56-A10 engines will be replaced with T56-A14 engines. According to IMP the 24 years old airframes will continue to fly for another 20 years. The first of eight UP/P-3A was delivered in 1993. The serials are:
149677 403 scrapped sep 2014 150507 402 on display in museum at Santiago 150518 401 stored as ‘406’ at Vina del Mar 150607 406 gate-guard as ‘401’ at Vina del Mar 151354 405 scrapped sep 2014 151384 407 P-3ACH operational 152141 408 P-3ACH VIP a/c stored at Vina del Mar 152165 404 P-3ACH first SMU with IMP
Germany On 24 December Mfg.3 P-3C 60+03 arrived back at Nordholz after a three-month deployment to Djibouti supporting Operation Atlanta. Another deployment has started on 23 March 2018 with the arrival of P-3C 60+02.
P-3C 60+02 made a weekend visit to Lajes AB on the Azores during January 2018. Noted flying at Nordholz during February were P-3C 60+02, 60+03 and 60+05, while 60+08 has left for maintenance with EADS at Manching on 31 January.
International Exercise Dynamic Manta 2018, a multilateral Allied Maritime Command-led exercise involving NATO forces, was held from 5 to 16 March 2018. The exercise took place in the Mediterranean Sea off the southern coast of Italy. Operating out of NAS Sigonella were Mfg.3 P-3C 60+05 and two RCAF CP-140 140104, 140105.
Anocther Joint Warrior exercise started at RAF Lossiemouth on 23 April 2018. participants were German Navy P-3C CUP 60+05, RCAF CP-140M 140118 and RNoAF P-3C UIP 3299.
The exercise RIMPAC 2018 will be held during July 2018. It is the world's largest multi-national maritime exercise and occurs every two years on and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. Although the P-8 will be the US contribution, during the previous exercise Canada and Korea also sent some of their Orions, while Brazil is also taking part for the first time.
Japan Besides Germany and Spain, the JMSDF also maintains a detachment of two Orions at Djibouti airport. Noted during April was P-3C 5067.
New Zealand During Operation Takapu, P-3K2 “Kingswood” NZ4204 from no. 5 Squadron mid December 2017 clocked up its 100th sortie in support of Combined Maritime Forces’ regional maritime security operations. The P-3K2 is one of a number of MPRA in support of CMF’s maritime security operations across a vast expanse of sea. Stretching from the Red Sea, through the Bab el-Mandeb Straits, around the Gulf of Aden, Coast of Somalia, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Northern Indian Ocean and through the Straits of Hormuz into the Arabian Gulf, the various MPRA provide vital ISR for this huge area of ocean. The callsign “Kingswood” derives from a model of popular car in New Zealand (and Australia) in the 1970s, the Holden (or General Motors) Kingswood. This was a ubiquitous sight on New Zealand's roads, and on No. 5 Squadron the term became popular along the lines of “going for a ride in the grey and white Kingswood” - meaning flying in the P-3 Orion. Over time the name took hold, and became an unclassified callsign of choice especially when exercising alongside the RAAF, who understood the reference.
Portugal P-3C CUP+ 14808 of 601 Squadron was part of the Portuguese contribution to the large international naval military exercise, OBANGAME EXPRESS 18, held in the Gulf of Guinea from 21 March to 3 April. This year's edition of U.S.Naval exercise Obangame Express ran between the coast of Senegal and the waters of S. Tomé and Príncipe. Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Togo, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. Next summer a P-3C is expected to be deployed for one month in support of Operation Sophia, tackling smuggling and human trafficking in the Mediterranean.
Republic of China As announced earlier the ceremony to commission the 12 P-3C was held on 1 December 2017.
Spain At Djibouti airport P.3-09 22-32 reached the 10.000 flight hours milestone on 12 December 2017, shortly after 9 years of continual support to EU NAVFOR. Late March both Spain and Germany had one Orion deployed to the Somali coast. The expertise gained by their respective crews is a key factor contributing to the success of the EU NAVFOR Operation. This is the 30th time a new flight crew has taken control of the MPRA and the 56th time the supporting detachment has changed in the last 9 years.
After the arrival of the Spanish P-3A (P.3A-01) in the Museo del Aire it is expected that the fuselage of the P-3A which is currently displayed (P.3-7) will probably be scrapped. It has been missing engines, tailplane and several other items for some time now. 221 Esc. is now operating the following three P.3M Orions which are planned to last until the 2025 timeframe: P.3-08, P.3-09 and P.3-12.