Aging Aircraft: BAE’s Structural Inspection Kits for P-3s
BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services in Rockville, MD recveived a $10.6 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract (N00421-06-D-0038) for the manufacture of 13 P-3 Special Structural Inspection airframe kits. This effort entails production of Emergency Rate Initial Production quantities of end item component parts, including engineering, analytical and manufacturing efforts in support of the Aging Aircraft Program; the original $14 million contract was announced on Sept 26/06. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (56%); Rockville, MD (24%); and Brea, CA (20%) and is expected to be complete in September 2009. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.
The US military has a growing issue with aging aircraft, and its P-3 Orion maritime surveillance fleet is particularly hard hit because of the planes’ demanding low-level maritime flight profile. Numbers continue to decline each year as aircraft are forced out of service, even though the US Navy is taking a wide range of measures to keep its planes flying until the hoped-for P-8A Poseidons arrive to replace them. Other Orion users like Australia, Canada, and Norway are also taking measures to keep their Orions flying, even re-winging the aircraft in some cases.
Dec 17/07: US NAVAIR issues an Air Frame Bulletin announcing the grounding of 39 P-3C Orion aircraft, which have been discovered to be “beyond known structural limits on the lower section of the P-3 wing.” Analysis and corrective measures are expected to take between 18 – 24 months per aircraft to complete. The Navy has a total of 161 P-3C aircraft in its inventory at this time, and 10 of the 39 grounded aircraft are currently deployed on operations. The grounded aircraft will either return to safe operation after replacement of critical structural components – or will be removed from service.
See “P-3 Recovery Plan Tries to Keep the Fleet in the Air” for more.