Australia entered into formal cooperative agreement with the
U.S. Navy in March 2012 for the procurement the P-8A, sustainment of the common fleet configuration and the planning of any
future follow-on development efforts. In February 2014, the
government of Australia announced acquisition approval for
eight P-8As with an option for four more. Australia’s eight P-8A
aircraft will be evenly split between FRP Lots 2 and 3. This
effort includes the purchase of long-lead parts in support of the
delivery schedule for four Royal Australian Air Force P-8As.
On Jan. 4, 2009, the Indian Ministry of Defence agreed to
purchase eight P-8I versions and was working toward the procurement of four more. The first P-8I made its first flight on
Sept. 28, 2011, and arrived in India in May 2013. Six had been
delivered by November 2014.
WINGSPAN: .................. 123. 6 feet
LENGTH:...................... 129. 5 feet
HEIGHT: ....................... 42. 1 feet
WEIGHT: .......................maximum gross takeoff, 189,200 pounds
SPEED:.........................490 knots true air speed
CEILING:....................... 41,000 feet
RANGE:........................... 1,200 nautical miles radius with 4 hours on-station
POWER PLANT:........... 2 CFM56-7BE turbofan engines
CREW: .......................... 9
ARMAMENT: ................Mk54 torpedoes and AGM- 84 Harpoon cruise
CONTRACTOR: ...........Boeing Co.
BRIEFING: The P- 3 Orion has been the Navy’s frontline, land-based
maritime patrol aircraft since the early 1960s. The P-3C Update III
is the baseline configuration. It has advanced submarine-detection
sensors, magnetic anomaly detection equipment and can carry a
mixed payload of weapons internally and on wing pylons.
The P-3C Block Modification Upgrade (BMUP) has Update
III functionalities with more modern technology. There are 19
modified operational BMUP aircraft configured with the APS-
149 Littoral Surveillance Radar System.
The P-3C Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP)
includes enhancements in sensors, communications, displays
and controls, survivability and vulnerability, and weapons capability. Major sensor systems include the APS-137B (V) 5 synthetic aperture radar, USQ-78B acoustic processing system,
ASQ- 81 magnetic anomaly detection system, ALR- 95 ESM system and ASX- 4 EO/IR turret. AIP was installed in 72 P-3Cs
between 1996 and 2007.
In order to quantify the airframe fatigue status of the P-3C
fleet, the Service Life Assessment Program (SLAP) was con-
ducted between 1999 and early 2003. SLAP included analysis
and a full-scale fatigue test, and revealed greater fatigue dam-
age than expected. In response, the Navy instituted special
structural inspections and material replacement in center and
outer wings as needed to sustain airframe life. Continuing
structural engineering and analysis of fatigue data is conducted
under the Fatigue Life Management Program (FLMP) conduct-
ed jointly by Naval Air Systems Command and Lockheed
Ongoing FLMP analysis led to an additional grounding of 39
P-3Cs in December 2007 over concerns about fatigue damage in
aft portions of the lower outer wing. This led the Navy to develop
a comprehensive recovery plan that included accelerated FLMP
efforts, use of on-hand material to immediately begin required
modifications, and a dual-path approach to recovery that includes
installation of complete outer wings and targeted material replacement. The program’s efforts have returned fleet P- 3 numbers to
pre-December 2007 levels. The Navy expected to complete the
majority of the remaining recovery measures by 2015.
P-3C communications and navigation, acoustic sensor and
weapons control systems are being maintained within several
programs needed to ensure the aircraft’s ability to satisfy Navy
and joint requirements through the early part of the 21st century. These programs include:
■ Communications, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic
Management Program. Current efforts include installation of a
new technology communications suite, Protected Instrument
Landing System, Identification Friend-or-Foe Mode S and
required navigation performance enhancements including GPS.
The program includes common avionics improvements and
modernized cockpit instrumentation.
■ Critical Obsolescence Program (COP). The COP goal is to
improve aircraft availability through replacement of obsolete systems. COP efforts include replacement of the HF transceiver,
data link modem (Link 11), autopilot and forward-looking
infrared system (ASX- 6).
■ Command, Control, Communications and Computers for
Anti-submarine Warfare ( C4 for ASW) Program. C4 for ASW
incorporates Link 16, International Marine/Maritime Satellite
(Inmarsat) broadband connectivity into AIP P-3Cs in order to
maintain the aircraft’s tactical relevance through enhanced situational awareness and communications capabilities. The C4 for
ASW program reached IOC in September 2011 after five P-3Cs
were modified with the configuration. An additional 50 P-3Cs
are scheduled to be modified to the configuration.
■ Acoustics. Acoustics modifications are being installed to provide upgrades to the acoustic signal processing subsystems using
rapid COTS insertion and technology refreshes to provide a system
with improved processing, display and control of acoustic data.
These modifications to the P-3C ASW sensor suite will enable
Multi-static Active Coherent capability. In addition, all analog
acoustic data recorders are being replaced with digital recorders
and the dated analog sonobuoy receivers are being replaced.
The P-3C has been active in overland and maritime ISR in
Operations Enduring Freedom.
Eight operational, one fleet readiness and two Reserve VP
squadrons operate P-3C AIP, BMUP and Update III-configured
aircraft. One VPU squadron also operates P-3Cs. As of
December 2014, 120 P-3Cs remained in inventory, of which
approximately 75 were available for operational missions. Other
P- 3 variants still in service include 15 EP-3Es operated by one
VQ squadron, eight NP-3C research and development, testing
and evaluation, and oceanographic survey aircraft (including
seven redesignated from NP-3D in 2012).