ESG Aerosystems won a $64.8 million deal
to develop a curriculum and facilitate training for P-3 aircrew positions including copilots, patrol plane commander, instructor pilot, flight engineer, instructor flight engineer, and flight currency training in support of Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity’s applicable field units and other program offices and stakeholders. The P-3 Orion
is a land-based maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The contract includes a five-year ordering period with no options and is expected to be completed by November 2025. This effort is 100% funded by Federal Republic of Germany funds under the Foreign Military Sales program. In June 2020, Germany had put a halt to an ongoing midlife upgrade of its fleet of Lockheed Martin P?3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) as it shifted to examining potential replacements. The legacy fleet of eight P-3C Orions were purchased secondhand from Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) stocks in 2005. The first unit entered German service in April 2006 following upgrades to P-3C CUP standard conducted by Lockheed Martin at its facility in Greenville, South Carolina, under a prior contract with the Dutch government. Work under the current contract will take place in Florida. Estimated completion will be in November 2025.
The P-3 Orion remains the USA’s main maritime patrol aircraft, and is also finding use in overland surveillance roles despite the fleet’s age. Earlier DID articles have noted the extra effort required to preserve the USA’s P-3C Orion maritime surveillance & patrol aircraft, along with radar and weapons upgrades to improve the fleet. Lockheed has even opened a new production line, to deal with planes whose wings that are so aged and worn that they need a full replacement.
The SMIP (Sustainment, Modification, and Installation Program) is intensive depot-level inspection and repair process that includes P-3 airframe and component inspection, identification of problems, and corrective maintenance. The idea is to ensure safe and reliable P-3 use, while trying to get more hours out of each airframe in order to sustain dwindling global fleets. More intensive “MIP” efforts may be launched once inspection results become clear, such as the USA’s P-3 recovery plan and full “ASLEP” re-winging efforts underway in Norway and Canada.