Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion Long-Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft
The Lockheed P-3 Orion was a further development of the civilian Electra passenger transport series.
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The P-3 Orion aircraft is a product of Lockheed Martin, designed and accepted at a time when Lockheed could do little wrong in the way of earning government contracts. The P-3 was a direct requirement for a United States Navy aircraft that could be put into production quickly and was based on an existing aircraft design. From the passenger transport airliner - the Lockheed Electra - came the proposal for the P-3 which produced two YP3V-1 prototypes by the middle of 1958.
The four-engine aircraft has accommodations for up to ten personnel. Along with the standard pilot and co-pilot roles, specialists in the form of a flight engineer, acoustic systems operators (x2), flight deck navigator, MAD operator, tactical coordinator and two observers, the P-3 was operated by up to 10 personnel with any additional relief crew as well. Systems featured included the MAD mounting in an extending boom to the rear of the aircraft, a powerful search radar and an internal weapons bay that could field up to eight torpedoes or other anti-ship ordnance. Additionally, ten underwing hardpoints provided the P-3 with a large array of stores to choose form that included the AGM-86 Harpoon anti-ship missile system. The P-3 "C" model became the definitive P-3 Orion in the series. Introduced in 1969, the P-3C featured the new APS-115 radar system and upgraded existing P-3's in four progressive versions.
The P-3 Orion system serves in one form or another with forces in Japan (100 license built models by Kawasaki), South Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Portugal, Netherlands and Spain among others. The flexibility of the airframe has ensured a long life in maritime and research capacities. Though US production has since ended in 1995, the series has been kept on standby should production need to be resumed again.