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this page was last updated on 2 May 2020
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Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion Worldwide News Section

United States
The U.S. Navy’s 2021 budget proposal apparently will request no new money to purchase more P-8A, despite a growing undersea threat and a shortfall in aircraft designed to cope with that threat. Congressional appropriators have asked the Navy in December 2019 how it would replace the P-3C Orions in the two Navy Reserve squadrons -which must retire in the near future- if production of the P-8 is prematurely terminated.

The US Navy budget for FY2021 includes the procurement of the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial systems (UAS), which is slated to replace the EP-3E Aries II starting in 2022.

The State of Hawaii DOT-A has shut down the Naval Air Museum Barbers Point in November 2019. This is the only place in Hawaii where you can see up close a real P-3C Orion, BuNo 160770. It will be confiscated by the State of Hawaii and declared off limits to the general public.

On 17 December a CBP P-3LRT crew assigned to the National Air Security Operations Center-Jacksonville, intercepted a large low-profile go-fast vessel in the Eastern Pacific loaded with cocaine worth an estimated $48 million.

Starting 23 January NOAA WP-3D N42RF was operating out of Shannon airport in Ireland for several weeks to support an ongoing NOAA Satellite and Information Service project to measure ocean surface winds in winter storms over the North Atlantic. This is the third year that NOAA has conducted this project from Ireland.

During the first quarter of 2020 US Navy P-3 were still active, mainly flying over the continental USA. The Reserves of VP-62 and VP-69 are still flying out of their respective home base NAS Jacksonville and NAS Whidbey Island with the P-3C BMUP+, while they also man a two-plane detachment at Kadena AB in Japan.
After the departure of VP-40 in October 2019, two P-3C BMUP+ Orions, 161587 and 161588 remained at Kadena, which were flown by crews of VP-69. Early April two replacement P-3C BMUP+, 161586 and 161415, arrived at Kadena, which are both assigned to VP-62.

VQ-1 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 maintains 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 some P-3C AIP out of NAS Point Mugu, while the single NP-3D returned to the squadron from depot level maintenance in Waco (TX) on 23 April.

VPU-2 seems to have no detachments, but they still fly out of MCAS Kaneohe Bay with their P-3SPA and P-3C bounce birds. The unit will move to NAS Jacksonville soon.

The other units, like VP-30, VXS-1 and BUPERS, also continue to fly the P-3C on a regular base, although the number of training flights was very low since February. The COVID-19 virus may be a reason for this reduction in flights.

In March the US Navy still operated the following (51) P-3:
VP-30   160293, 162318, 162770, 163290, 163295
VP-62   161121, 161132, 161404, 161415, 161586, 161590
VP-69   161339, 161405, 161411, 161414, 161587, 161588, 161593
VPU-2  159326, 160285, 160290, 160292, 162772, 163001
VQ-1    160610, 162777, 162998 + 12 EP-3E
VX-30  150521, 158934, 162999, 163294
VXS-1  158570, 158912, 161337, 161589, 163291

BUPERS SDC   158574
unk                 161129, 161408

A second P-3SPA of VPU-2, BuNo 161122, made its final flight to Davis Monthan for storage at AMARG on 18 February, after the removal of some special equipment at NAS Jacksonville.

Late 2017 NP-3C 153442 was delivered by Customs & Border Protection to Green Cove Springs, Fl. for demilitarization and reutilization. The aircraft was flown in, towed into place and was subsequently stripped of all usable parts for use supporting the CBP fleet, all other items removed were returned to the federal supply system for reutilization. Afterwards, the aircraft hulk was sold via auction and by early 2020 the new owner is storing the P-3 on site.

Forty-two years after the loss of P-3B 152757, the crew of the LC-85 is being honored by restyling P-3A 152156 permanently parked at the former airbase - now Brunswick Landing - to look exactly like the lost P-3. A plaque that commemorates the tragedy and lists the eight crewmen will stand in front of the airplane’s nose. A dedication ceremony is slated for 4 p.m. on 14 August after the Great State of Maine Airshow holds its practice day.

On 20 December it was announced that the US Government has approved the potential sale of a support package for Argentina’s recently acquired P-3C Orions. The US State Department cleared the $78.03m transaction to be carried out as a foreign military sale. It includes the delivery of related equipment and services.

In September, the Argentine Navy procured four P-3C aircraft from the US under the Excess defense articles (EDA) program, a US Department of Defense initiative to transfer military equipment from its stockpiles to foreign allies. So far, no BuNos have been reported. The package also covers communications and radar equipment; Infrared/Electro-optic equipment, and aviation life support systems. In addition, the US will provide spares and repairs, aircraft depot maintenance, and other logistical support. The primary contractors in the support sale are Logistic Services International, Lockheed Martin, Rockwell Collins and Eagle Systems.

Late January the RCAF participated in an exercise flying out of NAS Jacksonville with CP-140M’s 140101 and 140117.

On 21 February Block IV-modified CP-140 Aurora 140108 flew for the first time from Halifax to Greenwood, NS as part of an initial flight test assessment under the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment (AETE). Block IV modifications include beyond-line-of-sight satellite communication, Link 16 Tactical Data Link, and a self-defense system. During this significant project milestone, personnel from the AETE and 415 Squadron helped verify the safety of the design for flight. Upcoming instrumented flight testing will measure flight characteristics and re-certify the flight and operational envelopes of the Block IV modified aircraft. The aircraft will remain at 14 Wing Greenwood to conduct on-ground testing and training in preparation for operational use of its new capabilities. The RCAF expects to declare the initial operational capability of the Block IV-modified CP-140 in June.

After a lengthy upgrade, the Comando de Aviación Naval (CAN, Chilean Naval Aviation) has received its first upgraded P-3ACH (serial 404) back on 26 November 2019. The Mid-Life upgrade was performed by IMP Aerospace & Defence, Halifax (Canada) since February 2017. Meanwhile, work is nearly finished on the second Orion (serial 407). That will be delivered back to VP-1 at Viña del Mar (Chile) shortly too.

From 15 to 18 November P-3C CUP 60+08 participated in the Aviation Nation 2019 air show at Nellis AFB near Las Vegas. After a three months stay in Djibouti the participation of P-3C 60+07 to Operation Atalanta ended on 14 December.

From 24 February to 7 March P-3C CUP 60+01 visited NAS Sigonella to participate in Dynamic Manta 20 to exercise submarine warfare and ASW war-fighting capabilities for submarines, with other 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.

On 10 March Mfg.3 P-3C CUP 60+06 headed for Djibouti (Africa) to support the ongoing European Union anti-piracy mission "Operation Atalanta". The Orion will fly its missions over the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, around the Horn of Africa and the Somali Basin (the eastern part of the Indian Ocean) up to mid-June 2020. The German naval aviators will contribute with call-sign "Jester" over the area of operations.

From 20 until 31 January, JMSDF P-3C 5075 participated in the multilateral exercise Sea Dragon 2020, hosted by the U.S. Navy around Guam. This anti-submarine warfare exercise was conducted between five countries including Australia, New Zealand (P-3K2 NZ4203) and the Republic of Korea (P-3CK 950905). JMSDF strengthened cooperation with the participating countries and deepened mutual understanding.

In November 2019 the Japanese MoD released its FY2020 budget request and apart from the procurement of three P-1s it also contained a life-extension program for seven P-3C, one OP-3C and one EP-3.

On 11 January two P-3C of 5 Kokutai (incl 5061) departed their home base Naha and headed for the Middle East to carry out intelligence gathering operations in the region. The crews started their eleven-month long mission on 20 January operating out of the Japanese base at Djibouti airport, where since 2010 other P-3C have been deployed to hunt for pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The P-3Cs 5048 and 5065 of 2 Kokutai, that were on the way back from Djibouti to Japan, conducted a Search and Rescue exercise with Sri Lanka Navy on 21 January over the Ocean of west of Sri Lanka.

New Zealand
Late February P-3K2 NZ4203 of No 5 Sqn participated in an Australian ASW exercise, operating out of RAAF base Edinburgh, SA.

According to a World Air Forces 2020 publication of Flight International dated 16 December 2019 the Pakistan Navy still operates six P-3C Orions. This would mean that #81 was not repaired after it was heavily damaged during the attack at PNS Mehran on 22 May 2011. The remaining numbers are: 80, 82, 85, 86, 88 and 89.

Jane’s Defence Weekly reported in March that the Pakistan Navy has issued a global tender for one twin-engine aircraft capable of being modified into a next-generation long-range maritime patrol aircraft. According to the Chief of Staff on the PN the service is aiming to acquire this customised LRMPA as a successor to its ageing fleet of P-3C Orions.

Early November 2019 the Portuguese detachment Wolf ended the tour in EU Task Force Sophia operating out of Sigonella, after almost one month of daily activity for the security in the Central Med.

Early November 2019 the Spanish contribution to Operation Atalanta reached the 12,000 flight hours with the P.3M flying out of Djibouti IAP. P-3M P.3M-12 / 22-35 of ALA 22 was the Spanish contribution to EU NAVFOR Somalia operation Atalanta in February 2020.