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P-3 Orion - World-Wide Operators

OperatorInventory P-8 vs MLU
Canada [CP-140 Aurora]18 14 MLU
Iran3 NO
Japan83 MLU
New Zealand6
South Korea16 MLU
United States
Total P-3 production, including license-built aircraft, came to 757 aircraft. As of 2012 the worldwide P-3 fleet numbered 435 aircraft flown by twenty-one operators in sixteen countries on five continents, with Taiwan scheduled to join the Orion community with refurbished and rewinged former US Navy aircraft in 2013. Time and time again, the P-3 proves that it is remarkably well adapted for maritime patrol and support.

Entering service for the Navy in 1962, the Orions airframe was based on Lockheeds Model 188 Electra commercial airliner. Though capable of reaching a top speed of 405 mph and a range of 5,570 miles, the Orion was designed to fly at low altitudes and slow speeds for long periods of time, making it an invaluable maritime patrol plane for the Navy, and used as a critical tool in the successful blockade of Cuba during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operated the Lockheed-Martin (L-M) designed P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft for many years and in the 1990s, at the time of the formulation of the avionics update program for the aircraft that became Project AIR 5276, concern was expressed about the structural safe life limit then applied to the aircraft and the potential for life extension. In 1999 the Australian Department of Defence along with their counterparts in Canada and the Netherlands joined with the United States Navy (USN) to conduct the P-3 Service Life Assessment Program.

The P-3 Service Life Assessment Program (P-3 SLAP) was an international program conducted between 1999 and 2004. Led by the United States Navy (USN), the program consisted of a series of full scale fatigue tests and analyses of the P-3 aircraft in order to determine the remaining structural life of the aircraft. Three other countries participated; Australia, Canada and The Netherlands. DSTO conducted the majority of the Australian technical activities including flight test loads measurement, wing teardown and an empennage full scale fatigue test.

Although the P-8 is the US Navys designated replacement for the P-3, Orion crews will still be on station for several years to come. Upgraded EP-3E ARIES II electronic reconnaissance aircraft will be flown well into the 2020s. But other operators intend to continue flying their P-3s for many more years. The addition of Lockheed Martins Mid-Life Upgrade kit replaces the aircrafts outer wings and horizontal wing stabilizers with new technology, giving this hunter an estimated 15,000 additional flight hours and up to twenty-five years continued service over land and sea. The P-3 Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) Program ensures uninterrupted service for an additional 2025 years. The objective is to keep the P-3 aircraft operationally valuable and structurally viable for decades to come. The MLU is the only certified, low-risk and cost-effective solution to extend aircraft service life. It is the answer to maintaining effectiveness and reliability in a critical global economy. The design replaces all fatigue-life-limiting structures on the aircraft with enhanced-design components and new improved corrosion-resistant materials that will greatly reduce the cost of ownership over the aircrafts remaining service life. This is an affordable solution that Lockheed Martin has proven can be installed in 11 months.

Since 1988, the annual P-3 International Operators Support Conference (IOSC) has been the forum where P-3/CP-140/L-188 operators come together and share common concerns and successes. The purpose of the P-3 IOSC is to identify, discuss and solve technical, maintenance and sustainment challenges being experienced in the international operator community. The conference sub-committees provide a working group atmosphere where contractors, vendors and operators can engage and discuss specific challenges and possible solutions available.

Lockheed Martin and the Royal Canadian Air Force co-hosted the 24th annual P-3 International Operators Support Conference in Octover 2011 in Marietta. A record number of more than 450 registered attendees from 13 nations as well as 39 supplier companies focused on P-3 Orion aircraft support, sustainment and modernization. "This year's theme for the IOSC is 'Partnering for Success' and is the foundation to the topics being discussed on how operators worldwide can maintain their maritime patrol and reconnaissance missions, affordably," said Ray Burick, Lockheed Martin vice president of P-3 Programs and Greenville Operations. "The P-3 IOSC is the only event in the world where P-3 operators can get together to discuss best practices and share ideas."

Lockheed Martin co-hosted the 2013 P-3 International Operators Support Conference (IOSC) October 28-31, 2013. This years co-hosts are Blue Aerospace and Kellstrom Defense Aerospace, Inc., both Lockheed Martin authorized P-3 distributors supporting the P-3 and CP-140. The purpose of the conference is to identify affordable solutions for continued sustainment. This year's theme, "Operationally Proven, Sustainable into the Future," provides insight into the P-3s global leadership in maritime patrol and reconnaissance, homeland security, hurricane reconnaissance, anti-piracy operations, humanitarian relief, search and rescue, intelligence gathering, antisubmarine warfare and data gathering after natural disasters. This years conference introduced a new collaborative sustainment initiative called Sustainment Through Aligned Requirements (STAR), an innovative solution designed to reduce total ownership costs.

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