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Covering the Atlantic side of Europe out of the Azores, and sitting near the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, Portugal has a lot of maritime territory to patrol. The FAP has received a number of upgraded P-3 Orion aircraft over the years, from the US P-3Bs that became P-3Ps via upgrades etc., to a recent set of P-3Cs from The Netherlands. Maintaining their long range maritime patrol capabilities, and keeping the fleet at acceptable strength as aircraft are retired, is critical to Portugal’s ability to watch those important sea lanes.
Soon the Dutch P-3Cs will constitute Portugal’s entire P-3C fleet, as the P-3Ps are being retired. These 5 Orions will be supplemented by shorter-range CASA C-295 VIMARs – but they will also require their own capability upgrades.