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P-3 Orion
U.S. Navy P-3C Orion assigned to VP-22
Role Maritime patrol aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed
First flight 25 November 1959
Introduced 1962
Status Active
Primary users United States Navy
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Republic of Korea Navy
Royal New Zealand Air Force
Number built Lockheed – 650,
Kawasaki – 107,
Total – 757
Unit cost USD$36 million (FY1987)
Developed from Lockheed L-188 Electra
Variants CP-140 Aurora
WP-3D Orion
Lockheed EP-3
AP-3C Orion

The Lockheed P-3 Orion is a maritime patrol aircraft used by numerous navies and air forces around the world, primarily for maritime patrol, reconnaissance, anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

Contents

Development

The P-3 Orion, originally designated P3V, is based on the same design philosophy as the Lockheed L-188 Electra. It is not the same aircraft structurally in that it has had 7 ft (2.1 m) of fuselage removed forward of the wings, as well as myriad internal, external, and airframe production technique enhancements. The prototype YP3V-1/YP-3A BuNo 148276 was in fact modified from the third Electra airframe c/n 1003. The P-3 Orion served as the replacement for the postwar era P-2 Neptune and P-5 Marlin. The Orion is powered by four Allison T56 turboprops which give it a speed comparable to fast propeller powered fighters, or even slow turbofan jets such as the A-10 Thunderbolt II or the S-3 Viking. Many other countries have seen the value of this platform design and have developed similar patrol aircraft based on this model, with the Soviets adapting their own counterpart to the Orion, the Ilyushin Il-38. The P-3 also competes with the British Hawker Siddeley Nimrod adaptation of the de Havilland Comet and the French Breguet Atlantique.

The first Orion prototype was a converted Lockheed Electra.

The first production version, designated P3V-1, first flew 15 April 1961. Initial squadron deliveries to Patrol Squadron EIGHT (VP-8) and Patrol Squadron FORTY FOUR (VP-44) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland began in August 1962. On 18 September 1962, the U.S. military transitioned to a unified designation system for all services, redesignating the aircraft as the P-3A. Paint schemes have changed from an early 1960s blue and white scheme, to a mid-1960s white and gray, to a mid-1990s flat finish low visibility gray with fewer and smaller subdued markings. In the early 2000s, the P-3C fleet transitioned to a gloss gray finish with the original full-size color markings. However, large size Bureau Numbers on the vertical stabilizer and squadron designations on the fuselage remained omitted.

Over the years, more than 40 combatant & noncombatant variants of the P-3 have been developed due to the rugged reliability displayed by the platform flying 12 hour plus missions 200 ft (61 m) over salt water while maintaining an excellent safety record. Versions have been developed for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for research and hurricane hunting/hurricane wall busting, for the U.S. Customs Service (now U.S. Customs and Border Protection) for drug interdiction and aerial surveillance mission with a rotodome adapted from the E-2 Hawkeye or an AN/APG-66 radar adapted from the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and for NASA for research and development.

The United States Navy remains the largest operator of the P-3, currently distributed between a single fleet replacement (i.e., "training) patrol squadron, 12 active duty patrol squadrons, two Navy Reserve patrol squadrons, and two active duty special projects patrol squadrons and an active duty test and evaluation squadron. Two additional active duty fleet reconnaissance squadrons operate the EP-3 Aries signals intelligence (SIGINT) variant. The U.S. Navy's P-3C aircraft are slated for replacement beginning in 2013 by the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, which is based upon the Boeing 737 airliner.

Design

P-3A of VP-49 in the original blue/white colours
Underside view of a P-3C showing the MAD (rear boom) and external sonobuoy launch tubes (grid of black spots towards the rear)
Allison T56-A-14 prop

The P-3 has an internal bomb bay under the front fuselage which can house conventional Mark 50 torpedoes or Mark 46 torpedoes and/or special (nuclear) weapons. Additional underwing stations, or pylons, can carry other armament configurations including the AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-84E SLAM, AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, the AGM-65 Maverick, 5 in (127 mm) Zuni rockets, and various other sea mines, missiles, and gravity bombs. The aircraft also had the capability to carry the AGM-12 Bullpup guided missile until that weapon was withdrawn from U.S./NATO/Allied service.

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Crew complement

The number of crew on board a P-3 varies depending on the role being flown, the variant being operated, and the country who is operating. In US Navy service, the normal complement for a P-3C is 11.[1]

  • three Naval Aviators
    • Patrol Plane Commander (PPC)
    • Patrol Plane 2nd Pilot (PP2P)
    • Patrol Plane 3rd Pilot (PP3P)
  • two Naval Flight Officers
    • Patrol Plane Tactical Coordinator (PPTC or TACCO)
    • Patrol Plane Navigator/Communicator (PPNC or NAVCOM)
  • two enlisted aircrew flight engineers (FE1 and FE2)
  • three enlisted sensor operators
    • Radar/MAD/EWO (SS-3)
    • 2 Acoustic (SS-1 and SS-2)
  • one enlisted in-flight technician (IFT)
  • one aviation ordnanceman (ORD position no longer used on USN crews; duties assumed by IFT.)

The senior of either the PPC or TACCO will be designated as the aircraft Mission Commander (MC).

Engine loiter shutdown

On many missions, an engine is shut down (usually the No. 1 engine - the port outer engine) once on station to conserve fuel and extend the time aloft and/or range when at low level. On occasion, both outboard engines can be shut down, aircraft weight, weather, and remaining fuel permitting. Long deep-water, coastal or border patrol missions can last over ten hours and may include extra crew. The record time aloft for a P-3 is a 21.5 hour flight undertaken by the Royal New Zealand Air Force's No. 5 Squadron in 1972.

Engine 1 is the primary candidate for loiter shutdown because it is the only one without a generator, and is not needed for electrical power. Eliminating the exhaust from engine 1 also improves visibility from the aft observer station on the port side of the aircraft.

Operational history

P-3B of VP-6 near Hawaii
US P-3C Orion of VP-8
Changing a tire on a P-3C

Developed during the Cold War, the P-3's primary mission was to track and eliminate ballistic missile and fast attack submarines in the event of war. Reconnaissance missions in international waters led to occasions where Soviet fighters would "bump" a U.S. Navy P-3 or other P-3 operators such as the Royal Norwegian Air Force. On one occasion in the 1980s the MiG and pilot did not survive the "bump" while trying to ward off a P-3 photographing a Soviet fleet exercise.[citation needed] The P-3 lost more than 10 feet (3.0 m) of its wing in the collision.[citation needed] The P-3 completed its mission and returned to base.[citation needed]

Cuba

In October 1962, P-3A aircraft flew several blockade patrols in the vicinity of Cuba. Having just recently joined the operational Fleet earlier that year, this was the first employment of the P-3 in a real world "near conflict" situation.

Vietnam

Beginning in 1964, forward deployed P-3 aircraft began flying a variety of missions under Operation Market Time from bases in the Philippines and Vietnam. The primary focus of these coastal patrols was to stem the supply of materials to the Viet Cong by sea, although several of these missions also became overland "feet dry" sorties. During one such mission, a small caliber artillery shell passed through a P-3 without rendering it mission incapable. During another overland mission, it is rumored, but not confirmed, that a P-3 shot down a North Vietnamese MiG with Zuni missiles. The only confirmed combat loss of a P-3 also occurred during Operation Market Time. In April 1968, a U.S. Navy P-3B of Patrol Squadron 26 (VP-26) was downed by anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire in the Gulf of Thailand with the loss of the entire crew. Two months earlier, in February 1968, another one of VP-26's P-3B aircraft was operating in the same vicinity when it crashed with the loss of the entire crew. Originally attributed to be an aircraft mishap at low altitude, later conjecture is that this aircraft may have also fallen victim to AAA fire from the same source as the subsequent aircraft loss in April.[2]

Iraq

On August 2, 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait and was poised to strike Saudi Arabia. Within forty-eight hours of the initial invasion of Kuwait, U.S. Navy P-3C aircraft were the first American forces to arrive in the area. One of these responding P-3C aircraft was a modified platform with a prototype system known as "Outlaw Hunter." Undergoing trials in the Pacific after being developed by the Navy’s Space & Naval Warfare Systems Command, "Outlaw Hunter" was testing a specialized over-the-horizon targeting (OTH-T) system package when it responded. Within hours of the start of the coalition air campaign, "Outlaw Hunter" detected a large number of Iraqi patrol boats and naval vessels attempting to make a run from Basra and Umm Qasar to Iranian waters. "Outlaw Hunter" vectored in strike elements which attacked the flotilla near Bubiyan Island destroying 11 vessels and damaging scores more. During Desert Shield, a P-3 using infrared imaging detected a ship with Iraqi markings beneath freshly painted bogus Egyptian markings trying to avoid detection. Several days before the 7 January 1991 commencement of Operation Desert Storm, a P-3C equipped with an APS-137 Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) conducted coastal surveillance along Iraq and Kuwait to provide pre-strike reconnaissance on enemy military installations. Fifty-five of the one hundred and eight Iraqi vessels destroyed during the conflict were targeted by P-3C aircraft.[3]

Afghanistan

Although the P-3 is a Maritime Patrol Aircraft, armament and sensor upgrades in the Anti-surface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) [4] have made it suitable for sustained combat air support over land[4]. Since the start of the current war in Afghanistan, U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft have been operating from Kandahar in that role.[5] Australian Air Force P-3 aircraft also operated there early in the war.[6] As of February 2010, the Australian P-3 aircraft have been operating in the area for a continuous 7 years. [7]

Somalia

Spanish Air Force deployed P-3s in the area to contribute the international effort against piracy in Somalia. The mission proved the type's capability once again. Below, some actions in which Orion aircraft took part.

On 29 October 2008, a Spanish P-3 aircraft patrolling the coast of Somalia reacted to a distress call from an oil tanker and dropped three smoke bombs on the attacking pirate boats and foiled their attack.[8]

On 29 March 2009, the same P-3 pursued the assailants of the German navy tanker Spessart (A1442), resulting in the capture of the pirates.[9]

Civilian uses

Aero Union P-3A Orion taking off from Fox Field, Lancaster, California, to fight the North Fire.
NOAA WP-3D Hurricane Hunters
P-3C of the German Navy
U.S. Department of Homeland Security P-3AEW&C to track drug couriers
Canadian CP-140 Aurora in June 2007

Several P-3 aircraft have been N-registered and are operated by civilian agencies. The US Customs & Border Protection has a number of P-3A and P-3B aircraft that are used for aircraft intercept and maritime patrol. NOAA operates two WP-3D variants specially modified for hurricane research. One P-3B, N426NA, is used by NASA as an Earth science research platform, primarily for the NASA Science Mission Directorate's Airborne Science Program. It is based at Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

Aero Union, Inc. operates eight ex-USN P-3A aircraft configured as air tankers, which are leased to the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and other agencies for firefighting use. A unique capability of the P-3 is that on so-called "downhill runs," i.e. when the plane is commencing a low pass to drop fire retardant, it is possible to put the propellers into "Beta" range, which is reverse-thrust mode, in order to slow the plane for the drop of water-based retardant.[citation needed] Several of these aircraft were involved in the U.S. Forest Service airtanker scandal but have not been involved in any catastrophic aircraft mishaps.

Variants

  • P-3A: The original production version; 157 built.
  • P-3A (CS): Four P-3A aircraft were reequipped with AN/APG-66 radars for use by the United States Customs Service.
  • EP-3A: Seven modified for electronic reconnaissance testing.
  • NP-3A: Three modified for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.
  • RP-3A: Two modified for scientific uses for the former Oceanographic Development Squadron EIGHT (VXN-8) at NAS Patuxent River.
  • TP-3A: 12 modified for training duties in Fleet Replacement Squadrons with all ASW gear removed.
  • UP-3A: 38 reconfigured as utility transports with all the ASW gear removed.
  • VP-3A: Three WP-3A and two P-3A aircraft converted into VIP/staff transports.
  • WP-3A: Four converted for weather reconnaissance.
  • P-3B: Second main production version/series T56-A14 engines in lieu of T56-A10W engines on P-3A.
  • EP-3B: Two P-3A aircraft converted into ELINT aircraft during the Vietnam War.
  • NP-3B: One P-3B converted into a testbed, for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.
  • P-3BR: Modification to P-3A model for Brazilian Air Force. Eight aircraft with EADS avionics.[10]
  • P-3C: Third main production version/series. T56-A14 engines. P-3C had A-NEW ASW suite and mission computer. Revised internal layout. Externally P-3C featured electrically operated entry ladder, small fin-top antenna, externally loaded belly sonobuoy chutes, 3 small windows on the aft right side (one window forward of the overwing emergency exit and two well aft). Initial production aircraft had camera nose located on lower part of radome. Later production aircraft had retractable IRDS turret in lieu of nose camera. Beginning in the early 1980s existing camera noses were retrofitted with IRDS turrets. Also known as P-3C "Baseline" or Non-Update (NUD) aircraft. All aircraft later retrofitted with LTN-72 inertial navigation system.
    • P-3C Update I: New and improved avionics, 31 built.
    • P-3C Update II: With infra-red detection system (IRDS), sonobuoy reference system (SRS), and ability to carry the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile; 44 built.
    • P-3C Update II.5: 24 aircraft with more reliable LTN-72 inertial navigation system and enhanced communications equipment.
    • P-3C SUDS:
    • P-3C Update III: 50 aircraft with new acoustic processor, sonobuoy receiver, plasma displays, and improved auxiliary power unit (APU).
    • P-3C Update IV: P-3C with Boeing Update 4 avionics suite. Update 4 was intended to be the common avionics interior for the P-3C aircraft and its planned replacement, the Lockheed P-7A, which never made it to production. One P-3C was converted to the UD4 interior and that aircraft was later stripped and turned into a Special Mission aircraft.
    • P-3C AIP {Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Program} (US) P-3C Update III with interior modification to add ASQ-222 mission computer, ASQ-78A/B acoustics system, APS-137 ISAR radar[11]
    • P-3C UIP {Upgrade Improvement Program} (RNoAF) P-3C with interior modification to add ASQ-222 mission computer, ASQ-78A/B acoustics system, APS-137 ISAR radar[12]
    • P-3C BMUP {Update III Block Modification Upgrade Program} (US) 25 aircraft with interior modification to convert selected NUD, UD2 and UD2.5 to carry ASQ-227 mission computer and ASQ-78B acoustics suite[13]
    • P-3C CUP {Capability Upkeep Program} CUP (RNLN) P-3C with interior modification to convert UD2.5 to carry ASQ-227 mission computer and ASQ-78B acoustics suite[14]; all aircraft relinquished by Royal Netherlands Navy in 2005 due to budget cuts and subsequnetly sold to/operated by the German Navy (eight aircraft) and the Portuguese Air Force (five aircraft)
  • EP-3: ELINT aircraft for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force.
  • NP-3C: One P-3C converted into a testbed for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.
  • RP-3C: One P-3C modified to replace the RP-3A.
  • OP-3C: 10 P-3C converted to reconnaissance aircraft for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force.
  • UP-3C: Equipment test aircraft for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force.
  • UP-3D: ELINT training aircraft for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force.p
  • RP-3D: One P-3C modified on production line to optimize MAD capabilities. Aircraft did extensive MAD surveys and was painted "Project Magnet". In 1973, an RP-3D was instrumental in pinpointing the wreckage of Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.
  • WP-3D: Two P-3C aircraft as modified on the production line for NOAA weather research, including hurricane hunting.
  • EP-3E Aries: 10 P-3A and 2 EP-3B aircraft converted into ELINT aircraft.
  • EP-3E Aries II: 12 P-3C aircraft converted into ELINT aircraft.
  • EP-3E SIGINT: Eight US Navy EP-3E aircraft are to be converted by L-3 Communications Integrated Systems into "surge configuration" Signals Intelligence aircraft. This will expand their multi-source intelligence capacity to meet the increased intelligence demands of the "surge" in counter-terrorism operations.[15]
  • NP-3E: Various aircraft used for tests.
  • P-3F: Six Orions delivered to the former Imperial Iranian Air Force in the late 1970s. The airframe of the P-3F was based on the P-3C was which the then current production variant for the U.S.Navy. The P-3F and P-3C featured electrically operated entry ladder, externally loaded belly sonobuoy chutes, 3 small windows on the aft right side (one window forward of the overwing emergency exit and two well aft), camera nose located on lower part of radome. Unlike production the P-3C and CP-140/140A, the P-3F lacked the small fin-top UHF antenna. The P-3F did not have ASW suite or mission computer of the P-3C. Most of the displays and processors were adapted from the P-3A/P-3B (although the P-3F had the APS-115 radar of the P-3C) The P-3F came from the factory with the then-standard gray and white U.S Navy paint scheme, but while crews were undergoing training in the U.S., the aircraft were repainted in a unique 3-tone blue paint scheme; three aircraft still operational with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force.
  • P-3G: Original designation of the Lockheed P-7A.
  • P-3H: Proposed P-3C upgrade.
  • EP-3J: Two P-3A aircraft modified for FEWSG use as a simulated adversary EW platform in exercises; later transferred to the former Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Thirty-Three (VAQ-33), then transferred to the former Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Eleven (VQ-11) of the Navy Reserve.
  • P-3K: five aircraft originally of P-3B standard but subsequently updated, delivered to New Zealand in 1965-67, replacing Short Sunderlands. The original P-3B aircraft were operated by No. 5 Squadron RNZAF from Whenuapai, Auckland. These received part of the P-3C Update II package and some local innovations, then being designated P-3K (for Kiwi), together with a P-3B purchased second hand from the Royal Australian Air Force and brought up to P-3K standard.
    • P-3K2: Upgraded P-3K, all 6 aircraft were re-winged and underwent a further round of avionics and sensor updates in 2005[16].
  • P-3M: Five former RNoAF P-3B modernized by EADS-CASA for the Spanish AF. They have a new sensor suite integrated by a six console EADS-CASA Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS)data system. New sensors include an Elta-2022 radar, SPAS-16 acoustic processor, new 99-channel sonobuoy receiver and AMES-C ESM system. Only the original MAD system was kept.
  • P-3N: Two P-3B modified for coast guard missions for the RNoAF.
  • P-3P: Six ex-RAAF originally of P-3B standard but subsequently updated for the Portuguese Air Force. Being replaced by newer P-3C Update II.5s (P-3C CUP) formerly operated by the Royal Netherlands Navy.
  • P-3T: Two P-3A modified for Royal Thai Navy.
    • VP-3T: One P-3A modified for Royal Thai Navy VIP use and some surveillance operations.
  • P-3W: Designation used internally by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to distinguish the first 10 P-3C aircraft procured in the P-3C Update 2 configuration (1978-79) from the second 10 aircraft which were procured in the Update 2.5 configuration (1982-83). The older aircraft were designated as P-3C and the newer aircraft P-3W. All were equipped with the British AQS-901 Acoustics Processor. Eventually with various system upgrades to the mission systems the two types merged into one and they are now all known as AP-3C.
  • AP-3C: All Royal Australian Air Force P-3C/W aircraft which have been fully upgraded with totally new mission systems by L-3 Communications to include an Elta SAR/ISAR RADAR and a GD-Canada Acoustic Processor system.
    • TAP-3: 3 modified B-models for training duties with the Royal Australian Air Force, with all the ASW gear removed and passenger seating installed. Removed from service with the full introduction into service of the AP-3C Simulator. Designator reflected them as being 'Training Australian P-3'
  • P-3CK: Designation of the eight former P-3B aircraft that the Republic of Korea Navy procured from the USN and which are in the process of being rebuilt with P-3C configuration wings and fitted with updated Mission System Equipment by Korea Aerospace Industries and L-3 Communications.
  • P-3AEW&C (originally nicknamed "Sentinel"): Eight P-3B aircraft were converted into Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft. In the early 90s, "Control" was dropped from the official designation along with the corresponding "C", renaming the model "P-3-AEW". This made it more easily differentiated from the E-3-AWACS operated by the U.S.Air Force. The P-3-AEWs are used by Office of CBP Air and Marine for drug interdiction and homeland security missions. "P-3-LRT (Long Range Tracker), previously known as "Slicks", also operated by CBP, are modified P-3 aircraft with an optical sensor turret in the nose and tracking radar which often work with the AEW ships. The mission using both types of aircraft in a single mission is called "Double Eagle"
  • CP-140 Aurora: Longe-range maritime reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare aircraft for the Canadian Armed Forces. Based on the P-3C Orion airframe, but mounts the more advanced electronics suite of the S-3 Viking. 18 built
  • CP-140A Arcturus: Three P-3s without ASW equipment for Canadian Aurora crew training and various coastal patrol missions.
  • P-7 proposed new-build and improved variant as a P-3 Orion replacement later cancelled.
  • Orion 21 proposed new-build and improved variant as a P-3 Orion replacement; lost to Boeing P-8 Poseidon.

Operators

Military operators

P-3W, 11 Sqn RAAF, in 1990
P-3F of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
 Argentina
 Australia
 Brazil
  • Brazilian Air Force - 12 P-3AM(Upgraded) in 2008. Integrated with the CASA FITS (Fully Integrated Tactical System), it will be utilized in Anti-submarine warfare.[17]
 Canada
 Chile
  • Chilean Navy - 4 P-3A; based at Base Aeronaval Torquemada, Con-Con
 Germany
 Greece
 Iran
 Japan
 New Zealand
 Norway
 Pakistan
 Portugal
 Republic of China (Taiwan)
 South Korea
 Spain
 Thailand
 United States

Former military operators

 Netherlands

Civilian operators

Lockheed debuts AWACS plane, a converted P-3 Orion, Los Angeles, 1984; later used by U.S. Department of Homeland Security
 United States

Specifications (P-3C Orion)

An armed US P-3C Orion
P-3 aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and the United States Navy

General characteristics

  • Crew: 11
  • Length: 116 ft 10 in (35.6 m)
  • Wingspan: 99 ft 8 in (30.4 m)
  • Height: 33 ft 8.5 in (10.3 m)
  • Wing area: 1300 ft² (120.8 m²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 0014-1.10 (Root) - NACA 0012-1.10 (Tip)
  • Empty weight: 77,200 lb (35,000 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 135,000 lb (61,400 kg)
  • Useful load: 57,800 lb (26,400 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 142,000 lb (64,400 kg)
  • Powerplant:Allison T56-A-14 turboprop, 4,600 shp (3,700 kW) each
  • Propellers: Four-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller, 1 per engine
    • Propeller diameter: 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m)

Performance

Armament

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

References

Notes

  1. ^ "P-3C Orion long range ASW aircraft". US Navy Fact File. US Navy. 2007-01-25. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=1100&tid=1400&ct=1. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  2. ^ http://www.vpnavy.org/vp26mem.html
  3. ^ READE, DAVID (1998). THE AGE OF ORION THE LOCKHEED P-3 ORION STORY. ATGLEN, PA: SCHIFFER. pp. 42–49. ISBN 0-7643-0478-X. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/P3CAntiSurfaceWarfareImprovementPro/index.html
  5. ^ http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,SS_070505_Navy,00.html
  6. ^ http://www.globalcollab.org/Nautilus/australia/afghanistan/adf-in-afghanistan-history
  7. ^ http://australianaviation.com.au/orions-seven-years-away/
  8. ^ http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/News/0,,2-11-1447_2417932,00.html
  9. ^ http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id=31776
  10. ^ interview with Rainer Hertrich (EADS CEO) in 2003
  11. ^ http://www.lockheedmartin.com/data/assets/corporate/press-kit/P-3C-AIP-Brochure.pdf
  12. ^ http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/RNoAFP3CUpgradeImprovementProgram/index.html
  13. ^ http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/P3CUpdateIIIBlockModificationUpgrad/index.html
  14. ^ http://www.mombu.com/aviation/military-aviation/t-first-p-3c-cup-orion-arrived-at-valkenburg-1814715.html
  15. ^ Jane's Defence Weekly 01/14/2009
  16. ^ RNZAF P-3K2 Update
  17. ^ http://www.brazil.eads.net/1024/pt/press/press/20090429_airbus_military_p-3.html
  18. ^ http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=3926067
  19. ^ http://www.expressindia.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=81365#compstory
  20. ^ "U.S. in deal to refurbish aircraft for Taiwan". Washington Post. 2009-03-13. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/13/AR2009031302806.html. Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  21. ^ "U.S. Grounds 39 P-3 Aircraft". Defensenews. 2008-01-11. http://defensenews.com/story.php?F=3302324&C=america. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  22. ^ http://wacop.wff.nasa.gov/LAAPBDesc.cfm
  23. ^ "DHS Air Assets P-3 AEW". http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/border_security/air_marine/air/aviation_asset/orion_p3b.xml. 
  24. ^ "DHS Air Assets P-3 LRT". http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/border_security/air_marine/air/aviation_asset/orion_p3_lrt.xml. 
  25. ^ [1]

Bibliography

External links


P-3 Orion
U.S. Navy P-3C Orion assigned to VP-22
Role Maritime patrol aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin
First flight November 1959[1]
Introduced August 1962[1]
Status Active
Primary users United States Navy
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Royal New Zealand Air Force
Number built Lockheed – 650,
Kawasaki – 107,
Total – 757[citation needed]
Unit cost US$36 million (FY1987)[1]
Developed from Lockheed L-188 Electra [2]
Variants Lockheed AP-3C Orion
Lockheed CP-140 Aurora
Lockheed EP-3
Lockheed WP-3D Orion

The Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion is a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft developed for the United States Navy and introduced in the 1960s. Lockheed based it on the L-188 Electra commercial airliner.[2] The aircraft is easily recognizable by its distinct tail stinger or "MAD Boom", used for the magnetic detection of submarines. Over the years, the aircraft saw numerous design advancements, most notably to its electronics packages. The P-3 Orion is still in use by numerous navies and air forces around the world, primarily for maritime patrol, reconnaissance, anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare.[1]

Contents

Development

In August 1957, the US Navy called for replacement proposals for the aging P2V Neptune (later redesignated P-2) and P5M Marlin (later redesignated P-5) with a more advanced aircraft to conduct maritime patrol and antisubmarine warfare. Modifying an existing aircraft was expected to save on cost and allow rapid introduction into the fleet. Lockheed suggested a military version of their L-188 Electra, which was still in development and had yet to fly. In April 1958 Lockheed won the competition and was awarded an initial research and development contract in May.[2]

File:P-3 prototype
The first Orion prototype was a converted Lockheed Electra.

The prototype YP3V-1/YP-3A BuNo 148276 was in fact modified from the third Electra airframe c/n 1003.[citation needed] The first flight of the aircraft's aerodynamic prototype, originally designated YP3V-1, was on 19 August 1958. While based on the same design philosophy as the Lockheed L-188 Electra, the aircraft was structurally different. The aircraft had 7 meters (23 ft) less fuselage forward of the wings, as well as internal, external, and airframe production technique enhancements.[2] The Orion has four Allison T56 turboprops which give it a top speed of 411 knots (761 km/h) comparable to the fastest propeller fighters, or even slow turbofan jets such as the A-10 Thunderbolt II or the S-3 Viking. Similar aircraft include the Soviet Ilyushin Il-38, the British Hawker Siddeley Nimrod adaptation of the de Havilland Comet and the French Breguet Atlantique.[citation needed]

The first production version, designated P3V-1, launched on 15 April 1961. Initial squadron deliveries to Patrol Squadron Eight (VP-8) and Patrol Squadron Forty Four (VP-44) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland began in August 1962. On 18 September 1962, the U.S. military transitioned to a unified designation system for all services, naming it the P-3 Orion.[2] Paint schemes have changed from early 1960s blue and white, to mid-1960s white and gray, to mid-1990s flat finish low visibility gray with fewer and smaller markings. In the early 2000s, the scheme changed to a gloss gray finish with the original full-size color markings. However, large size Bureau Numbers on the vertical stabilizer and squadron designations on the fuselage remained omitted.[citation needed]

More than 40 combatant and noncombatant P-3 variants have demonstrated the rugged reliability displayed by the platform flying 12 hour plus missions 200 ft (61 m) over salt water while maintaining an excellent safety record. Versions have been developed for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for research and hurricane hunting/hurricane wall busting, for the U.S. Customs Service (now U.S. Customs and Border Protection) for drug interdiction and aerial surveillance mission with a rotodome adapted from the E-2 Hawkeye or an AN/APG-66 radar adapted from the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and for NASA for research and development.

The United States Navy remains the largest P-3 operator, currently distributed between a single fleet replacement (i.e., "training) patrol squadron, 12 active duty patrol squadrons, two Navy Reserve patrol squadrons, two active duty special projects patrol squadrons and two active duty test and evaluation squadrons. Two additional active duty fleet reconnaissance squadrons operate the EP-3 Aries signals intelligence (SIGINT) variant. The U.S. Navy's fleet is slated for replacement beginning in 2013 by the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, which is based upon the Boeing 737 airliner.

Design

File:P-3A VP-49
P-3A of VP-49 in the original blue/white colors
File:P-3 Orion underside view
Underside view of a P-3C showing the MAD (rear boom) and external sonobuoy launch tubes (grid of black spots towards the rear)
File:Helice HS
Allison T56-A-14 prop

The P-3 has an internal bomb bay under the front fuselage which can house conventional Mark 50 torpedoes or Mark 46 torpedoes and/or special (nuclear) weapons. Additional underwing stations, or pylons, can carry other armament configurations including the AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-84E SLAM, AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, the AGM-65 Maverick, 127 millimeters (5 in) Zuni rockets, and various other sea mines, missiles, and gravity bombs. The aircraft also had the capability to carry the AGM-12 Bullpup guided missile until that weapon was withdrawn from U.S./NATO/Allied service.[3]

The P-3 is equipped with a Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) in the tail. This instrument is able to detect the magnetic anomaly generated by a submarine in the Earth's magnetic field. The limited range of this instrument requires the aircraft to be overhead or very close to the submarine. Because of this it is primarily is used for pinpointing the location of a submarine prior to a torpedo attack. Due to the incredibly sensitive nature of the detector, electro-magnetic noise can interfere with its operation. For this reason, the detector is placed in P-3's distinct tail stinger or "MAD boom", far away from rest of the electronics on the aircraft.[4]

Crew complement

The crew complement varies depending on the role being flown, the variant being operated, and the country that is operating the type. In US Navy service, the normal complement is 11.[1]

  • three Naval Aviators
    • Patrol Plane Commander (PPC)
    • Patrol Plane 2nd Pilot (PP2P)
    • Patrol Plane 3rd Pilot (PP3P)
  • two Naval Flight Officers
    • Patrol Plane Tactical Coordinator (PPTC or TACCO)
    • Patrol Plane Navigator/Communicator (PPNC or NAVCOM)
  • two enlisted aircrew flight engineers (FE1 and FE2)
  • three enlisted sensor operators
    • Radar/MAD/EWO (SS-3)
    • two Acoustic (SS-1 and SS-2)
  • one enlisted in-flight technician (IFT)
  • one aviation ordnanceman (ORD position no longer used on USN crews; duties assumed by IFT.)

The senior of either the PPC or TACCO will be designated as the aircraft Mission Commander (MC).

Engine loiter shutdown

Once on station, one engine is often shut down (usually the No. 1 engine - the port outer engine) to conserve fuel and extend the time aloft and/or range when at low level. On occasion, both outboard engines can be shut down, weight, weather, and fuel permitting. Long deep-water, coastal or border patrol missions can last over ten hours and may include extra crew. The record time aloft for a P-3 is 21.5 hours, undertaken by the Royal New Zealand Air Force's No. 5 Squadron in 1972.

Engine 1 is the primary candidate for loiter shutdown because uniquely it has no generator, and provides no electrical power. Eliminating the exhaust from engine 1 also improves visibility from the aft observer station on the port side of the aircraft.

Operational history

File:P-3B
P-3B of VP-6 near Hawaii
File:P-3C
US P-3C Orion of VP-8

Developed during the Cold War, the P-3's primary mission was to track and eliminate ballistic missile and fast attack submarines in the event of war. Reconnaissance missions in international waters led to occasions where Soviet fighters would "bump" a U.S. Navy P-3 or other P-3 operators such as the Royal Norwegian Air Force. On 1 April 2001, a midair collision between a United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals surveillance aircraft and a People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) J-8II interceptor fighter jet resulted in an international dispute between the United States and the People's Republic of China (PRC) called the Hainan Island incident.[5]

Cuba

In October 1962, P-3A aircraft flew several blockade patrols in the vicinity of Cuba. Having just recently joined the operational Fleet earlier that year, this was the first employment of the P-3 in a real world "near conflict" situation.

Vietnam

Beginning in 1964, forward deployed P-3 aircraft began flying a variety of missions under Operation Market Time from bases in the Philippines and Vietnam. The primary focus of these coastal patrols was to stem the supply of materials to the Viet Cong by sea, although several of these missions also became overland "feet dry" sorties. During one such mission, a small caliber artillery shell passed through a P-3 without rendering it mission incapable. During another overland mission, it is rumored, but not confirmed, that a P-3 shot down a North Vietnamese MiG with Zuni missiles.[citation needed] The only confirmed combat loss of a P-3 also occurred during Operation Market Time. In April 1968, a U.S. Navy P-3B of Patrol Squadron 26 (VP-26) was downed by anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire in the Gulf of Thailand with the loss of the entire crew. Two months earlier, in February 1968, another one of VP-26's P-3B aircraft was operating in the same vicinity when it crashed with the loss of the entire crew. Originally attributed to an aircraft mishap at low altitude, later conjecture is that this aircraft may have also fallen victim to AAA fire from the same source as the April incident.[6]

Iraq

On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and was poised to strike Saudi Arabia. Within forty-eight hours of the initial invasion, U.S. Navy P-3C aircraft were the first American forces to arrive in the area. One was a modified platform with a prototype system known as "Outlaw Hunter." Undergoing trials in the Pacific after being developed by the Navy’s Space & Naval Warfare Systems Command, "Outlaw Hunter" was testing a specialized over-the-horizon targeting (OTH-T) system package when it responded. Within hours of the start of the coalition air campaign, "Outlaw Hunter" detected a large number of Iraqi patrol boats and naval vessels attempting to move from Basra and Umm Qasr to Iranian waters. "Outlaw Hunter" vectored in strike elements which attacked the flotilla near Bubiyan Island destroying 11 vessels and damaging scores more. During Desert Shield, a P-3 using infrared imaging detected a ship with Iraqi markings beneath freshly painted bogus Egyptian markings trying to avoid detection. Several days before the 7 January 1991 commencement of Operation Desert Storm, a P-3C equipped with an APS-137 Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) conducted coastal surveillance along Iraq and Kuwait to provide pre-strike reconnaissance on enemy military installations. A total of 55 of the 108 Iraqi vessels destroyed during the conflict were targeted by P-3C aircraft.[7]

The P-3 Orion's mission expanded in the late 1990s and early 2000s to include battlespace surveillance both at sea and over land. The long range and long loiter time of the P-3 Orion have proved to be an invaluable asset during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It can instantaneously provide information about the battlespace it can see to ground troops, particularly the U.S. Marines.[1]

Afghanistan

Although the P-3 is a Maritime Patrol Aircraft, armament and sensor upgrades in the Anti-surface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) [8] have made it suitable for sustained combat air support over land.[8] Since the start of the current war in Afghanistan, U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft have been operating from Kandahar in that role.[9] Australian Air Force P-3 aircraft also operated there early in the war.[10] As of February 2010, the Australian P-3 aircraft have been operating in the area for a continuous 7 years.[11]

Recently the United States Geological Survey used the Orion to survey parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan for lithium, copper, and other mineral deposits.[12]

Somalia

Spanish Air Force deployed P-3s to assist the international effort against piracy in Somalia. On 29 October 2008, a Spanish P-3 aircraft patrolling the coast of Somalia reacted to a distress call from an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden. In order to deter the pirates, the aircraft flew over the pirates three times as they attempted to board the tanker, dropping a smoke bomb on each pass. After the third pass, the attacking pirate boats broke off their attack.[13] Later, on 29 March 2009, the same P-3 pursued the assailants of the German navy tanker Spessart (A1442), resulting in the capture of the pirates.[14]

Civilian uses

File:Fox-firebase-aero
Aero Union P-3A Orion taking off from Fox Field, Lancaster, California, to fight the North Fire.
File:NOAA WP-3D
NOAA WP-3D Hurricane Hunters
File:CBP P-3
U.S. Department of Homeland Security P-3AEW&C to track drug couriers

Several P-3 aircraft have been N-registered and are operated by civilian agencies. The US Customs & Border Protection has a number of P-3A and P-3B aircraft that are used for aircraft intercept and maritime patrol. NOAA operates two WP-3D variants specially modified for hurricane research. One P-3B, N426NA, is used by NASA as an Earth science research platform, primarily for the NASA Science Mission Directorate's Airborne Science Program. It is based at Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

Aero Union, Inc. operates eight ex-USN P-3A aircraft configured as air tankers, which are leased to the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and other agencies for firefighting use. Several of these aircraft were involved in the U.S. Forest Service airtanker scandal but have not been involved in any catastrophic aircraft mishaps.

Variants

Over the years, numerous variants of the P-3 have been created. A few notable examples are:

  • WP-3D: Two P-3C aircraft as modified on the production line for NOAA weather research, including hurricane hunting.
  • EP-3E Aries: 10 P-3A and 2 EP-3B aircraft converted into ELINT aircraft.
  • EP-3E Aries II: 12 P-3C aircraft converted into ELINT aircraft.
  • AP-3C: All Royal Australian Air Force P-3C/W aircraft which have been fully upgraded with totally new mission systems by L-3 Communications to include an Elta SAR/ISAR RADAR and a GD-Canada Acoustic Processor system.
  • CP-140 Aurora: Long-range maritime reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare aircraft for the Canadian Armed Forces. Based on the P-3C Orion airframe, but mounts the more advanced electronics suite of the S-3 Viking; 18 built
  • CP-140A Arcturus: Three P-3s without ASW equipment for Canadian Aurora crew training and various coastal patrol missions.
  • P-7 proposed new-build and improved variant as a P-3 Orion replacement later canceled.
  • Orion 21 proposed new-build and improved variant as a P-3 Orion replacement; lost to Boeing P-8 Poseidon.

Operators

File:Military Operators
Military operators of the P-3

This list of P-3 Orion operators is a list of Lockheed P-3s that were used by Patrol Squadrons of the United States Navy and foreign governments. The P-3 has seen continuous use for almost five decades since its introduction in 1962 as a Antisubmarine warfare and Antisurface warfare patrol aircraft.[1]

Military operators

 Argentina

[[File:|thumb|Argentine Navy P-3B]]

 Australia
File:P-3W RAAF 11 Sqn
P-3W, 11 Sqn RAAF, in 1990

In 2002, the RAAF received significantly upgraded AP-3C. Also known as Australian Orions they are fitted with a variety of sensors. They include digital multi-mode radar, electronic support measures, electro-optics detectors (infra-red and visual), magnetic anomaly detectors, identification friend or foe systems, and acoustic detectors.[15]

 Brazil
  • Brazilian Air Force - 12 P-3AM(Upgraded) in 2008. Integrated with the CASA FITS (Fully Integrated Tactical System), it will be utilized in Anti-submarine warfare.[16]
 Canada
 Chile
  • Chilean Navy - 4 P-3A; based at Base Aeronaval Torquemada, Con-Con
 Germany

[[File:|thumb|P-3C of the German Navy]]

 Greece
  • Hellenic Navy - 6 P-3B; based at Eleusina Air Base. (two operational, four stored)
Template:Country data Iran
File:P-3F
P-3F of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
Template:Country data Japan

After Lockheed bribery scandals, the Japan Defense Agency decided to officially adopt the Lockheed P-3C replaced the Kawasaki P-2J in 1977.[17] The Kawasaki assembled five airframes produced by Lockheed, and the Kawasaki under license produced more than 100 P-3 variants in Japan.[18]

 New Zealand
 Norway
 Pakistan
  • Pakistan Naval Air Arm - ~10 P-3C; based in Naval aviation base Faisal, Karachi. Upgraded P-3C MPA and P-3B AEW models (equipped with Hawkeye 2000 AEW system) ordered in 2006,[19] first upgraded P-3C delivered in early 2007. In June 2010, two more Upgraded P-3Cs joined the Pakistan Navy with capabilities of anti-ship and submarine warfare.[20]
 Portugal
 Republic of China (Taiwan)
Template:Country data South Korea
 Spain
 Thailand
 United States

Former military operators

 Netherlands

Civilian operators

File:Lockheed AWACS,
Lockheed debuts AWACS aircraft, a converted P-3 Orion, Los Angeles, 1984; later used by U.S. Department of Homeland Security
 United States

Accidents and incidents

  • July 1972: While attempting to penetrate the Straits of Gilbraltar, en route from Naval Station Rota, Spain to Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily a P-3 assigned to VP-44 hit a mountain in Morocco killing all 14 people on board the aircraft.
  • 12 March 1991: While patrolling near San Diego, two US Navy Orions collided in midair, killing all 27 people on board both aircraft.

Specifications (P-3C Orion)

File:P-3B RNZAF USN MirageIII RAAF
P-3 aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and the United States Navy

[[File:|thumb|An Orion banking left and showing to the cameraship its opened bomb bay as well as its eight hardpoints (four under-wing and four under-wingroot)]]

General characteristics

Performance

Armament
 

Avionics

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

References

Notes
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "P-3C Orion long range ASW aircraft." navy.mil,, 20 September 2007. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e "P-3 history." GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  3. ^ "P-3C." history.navy.mil. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  4. ^ "Air Anti-Submarine Warfare ." fas.org. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  5. ^ "'Born to Fly,' by Lt. Shane Osborn: Navy Lt. Shane Osborn's Tale of Danger and Survival." abcnews.go.com, 30 September 2004. Retrieved: 28 July 2010.
  6. ^ "VP-26 Memorial: VP-26 Crew - In Memorium - VP-26 Crew." vpnavy.org. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  7. ^ Reade 1998, pp. 42–49.
  8. ^ a b [1] Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  9. ^ "P-3C Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Program (P-3C AIP)." military.com. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  10. ^ Chudy, Jason. "Navy Team Hunts Afghan Enemies." globalcollab.org, 5 July 2005. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  11. ^ Tanter, Richard. "ADF in Afghanistan - history ." australianaviation.com.au, 21 June 2009. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  12. ^ "U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan." New York Times, 13 June 2010. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  13. ^ "Spain foils pirates' plans." news24.com. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  14. ^ "Boxer Supports International Counter-Piracy Effort in Gulf of Aden - Other Attacks Increase Off Somali Coast.." dvidshub.net, 28 October 2008. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  15. ^ "AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft " raaf.gov, 29 March 2009. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  16. ^ "EADS.' (in Portugese) brazil.eads.net. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  17. ^ "Kawasaki Aerospace Division - Airplanes". www.khi.co.jp. Retrieved: 5 September 2010.
  18. ^ Polmar 2005, p. 416.
  19. ^ "Pakistan Navy To Boost Air Surveillance Capability." defencenews.com, 30 January 2010. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  20. ^ Ansari, Usman. "Pakistan navy planes to get more teeth." expressindia.com, 14 February 2007. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  21. ^ "U.S. in deal to refurbish aircraft for Taiwan." Washington Post, 13 March 2009. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  22. ^ "U.S. Grounds 39 P-3 Aircraft." Defensenews, 11 January 2008. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  23. ^ "P-3B Description." Wallops Flight Facility: NASA. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  24. ^ "DHS Air Assets P-3 AEW: Lockheed Orion P-3B AEW." cbp.gov, 11 MArch 2009. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  25. ^ "DHS Air Assets P-3 LRT: Lockheed Orion P-3B AEW." cbp.gov, 11 March 2009. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  26. ^ "Firefighting." aerounion.com. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  27. ^ a b c d e f "Specifications: P-3." lockheedmartin.com. Retrieved: 14 July 2010.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i "P-3C Orion - Maritime Patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare." Naval-Technology.Com. Retrieved: 1 August 2010.
Bibliography

External links


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