The EP-3 Aries is a variant of the P-3, which was derived from the ill-fated turboprop-powered Electra airline. The first EP-3 Aries I joined Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron ONE in 1969, beginning the replacement program for the Super Constellations, which was completed in 1974. Initially ten P-3A patrol aircraft were converted to the EP-3E ARIES, while two P-3B were converted to the EP-3B Batrack configuration. Modifications included a circular radome under forward fuselage, canoe-shaped housings above and below the fuselage, deletion of the MAD stinger, and addition of various antennae about the fuselage. Avionics included the GTE/Sylvania AN/ALR-60 communications and intercept analysis system on some aircraft, the Argo AN/ALR-52 Instantaneous Frequency Measuring (IFM) receiver, the Loral AN/ALQ-78 automatic ESM system, the Magnavox AN/ALQ-108 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) deception set, Raytheon AN/ALQ-76 noise deception jammer, the Hughes Aircraft AN/AAR-37 IR detector, and the Sanders AN/ALQ-132 IR jammer.
The EP-3E ARIES II program modified 12 low time P-3C ORION NUD Aircraft. Five aircraft were modified by the Lockheed Aircraft Service Company at the Lockheed Aeromod Center, Incorporated, facility in Greenville, South Carolina. Four aircraft were modified by Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP) Alameda, California, and three were modified at NADEP Jacksonville, Florida. The EP-3E Aries II consisted of the Conversion in Lieu of Production (CILOP) of the 10 EP-3E Aries I and 2 EP-3B Batrack aircraft. The program was authorized in 1987, for a fixed price of $59 million, and involved transferring existing ELINT equipment from the P-3A to newer P-3C airframes with only minor upgrades. The planned 1990 IOC slipped to 1991, and the cost was estimated to have grown to more than $100 million.
There are a significant number of shared systems and MAS equipment between the EP-3E ARIES II and the ES-3A Aircraft. The EP-3E ARIES II interfaces with other Battle Group defense platforms including United States Air Force Airborne Warning and Control Aircraft, Airborne Command and Control Forces, and sub-surface forces. EP-3E ARIES II SSIP subsystems directly interface with EP-3E ARIES II systems, such as the AN/ALD-9, GPS, INS, Digital Communications Management System (DCMS), and ESM. Story Teller interfaces with the EP-3E ARIES II OL-390 communications processor, the AN/ARC-187 Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radio suite, and the DCMS. Story Classic interfaces with the EP-3E ARIES II AN/ALD-9 Direction Finder Processing System, the AN/URR-78 HF Receivers, and the DCMS.
On 24 October 2001 the House Appropriations Committee recommended spending for two additional EP-3 Naval Reconnaissance aircraft.
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