A contract has finally been awarded for the upgrade and refurbishment of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft fleet is to extend the service. On February 11, the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Lakehurst, New Jersey, awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics an $142 million deal to carry out a service life extension programme that will provide a further 15,000 flight hours for the aircraft.
The work covers reactivation of one P-3B and the procurement of hardware kits for the upgrade/modernization of four P-3Bs to support a structural mid-life upgrade. In addition, this contract provides for phased depot maintenance, a Greek indigenous mission integration and management system, new avionics, plus other ancillary hardware and services. Contract completion is anticipated in July 2019.
The HAF acquired six P-3Bs, which entered service from June 1996. Various options had been considered to replace them, but ultimately these plans were thwarted by lack of funds. With their increasing age, they were progressively withdrawn and by October 2012 all were in storage, either at Elefsis, where they had been operated by 353 Maritime Surveillance Squadron, or with Hellenic Aerospace Industries at Tanagra. Once the decision had been taken to refurbish the P-3Bs, US Congress had been notified of the proposal on October 6, 2014, but it has taken until now to finalise a contract. Alan Warnes