$74.8M to Modify P-3C Wings, Add Land Attack Upgrades
Earlier DID articles have noted the extra effort required to preserve the USA’s P-3C Orion maritime surveillance & patrol aircraft in light of airframes that were wearing out, radar upgrades, and even weapons upgrades that have increased demand to include overland operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Lockheed has even started a wing replacement production line for the P-3 aircraft, wehich is currently used by at least 13 countries around the world. Its 737-based successor the P-8A MMA, which DID has also covered, will not begin to enter service until 2011 at the earliest, and UAV supplementation via a Maritime version of Global Hawk or a successor system like the BAMS is still at least a couple of years away even for the USA.
A recent pair of contracts focus on two noteworthy areas: wing fixes, and land attack upgrades.
Nov 6/06: Lockheed Martin Corp. in St. Paul, MN received a $68.9 million ceiling-priced modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-04-D-0082) to exercise an option for the A-Kits, B-Kits, installations, and other support equipment required to convert P-3C Orion Update II.5 aircraft into the P-3 Anti-Surface Warfare (AsuW) Improvement Program (AIP) configuration. Work will be performed in Greenville, SC (85%), and Clearwater, FL (15%), and is expected to be complete in September 2007. The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.
DID has covered this program before, which makes a wide array of modifications to modernize the USA’s aged P-3C Orion fleet in ways that increase its detection and attack punch over sea and land. As DID’s earlier coverage notes, P-3C AIP aircraft have even found themselves in demand over Kosovo and Afghanistan, as well as in their traditional maritime patrol role.
NAVAIR PMA-290 representatives also got in touch with us re: this contract, noting that “ceiling price” modification would have been a better term in the DefenseLINK release. It extends their contract with Lockheed Martin for another year, raising the program funding ceiling so that they can buy required equipment up to that new maximum, in order to keep the fleet of 72 P-3C AIPs operational and relevant. Items can then be ordered as required via delivery orders under that pre-negotiated contract.
Nov 6/06: L-3 Communications Integrated Systems in Greenville, TX received a $5.9 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-05-C-0038) for the removal and replacement of structural material on 3 sets of outer wings for P-3 aircraft. Work will be performed in Greenville, TX, and is expected to be complete in October 2007. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.
As a previous DID article has noted, the international P-3 force is so old that Lockheed has restarted a production line for extra wing sets in order to keep some of them flying. That is not required in this case, however, as the release language notes.
NAVAIR representatives added that the US Navy currently has no plans to re-wing its Orion force. Instead, they will rely on a combination of targeted maintenance, modification, and slow drawdown of airframes with the least advanced equipment (target: 130 total P-3s by 2011) in order to keep the Orion force operational until the 737-based P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft and BAMS UAVs can begin to replace the Orions in service.