YouTube – P-3 Orion
4 x 4,910 hp ea.
116 ft. 10 in.
99 ft. 6 in.
In the mid 1950’s the United States Navy requested bids for a anti-submarine warfare aircraft with the ability have extended loiter time as a replacement for their twin engine aircraft. Lockheed answered the request with the P-3 Orion, developed from their L-188 airliner.
The P-3 Orion first flew in late 1959 and continue to serve to date, over sixty years later. With its stinger tail, the aircraft is about twelve feet longer than the L-188. In addition, the aircraft has provisions for carrying weapons.
The aircraft carry a magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) radar in their stinger tail. They are armed with anti-submarine sonar buoys, Harpoon missiles, mines, depth charges, and torpedoes. Their roles have expanded to include over-land surveillance. For these missions the aircraft can use special imaging radars, electro-optical cameras and infrared sensors.
P-3 Orion missions have included Libya, Cuba, Vietnam, Liberia, Somalia, Mogadishu, Rwanda, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They flew over 1,200 missions during Desert Storm. The aircraft have also been employed in support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
In 2010 a specially equipped P-3 Orion was deployed over Iraq. Its mission was the detection of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that could impede the withdrawal of American troops from the country.
In January of 2020 two P-3 Orion aircraft of the Japanese self defense force, based in the Republic of Djibouti located in the Horn of Africa, began patrolling the northern Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman. Their primary mission is anti-piracy, along with general surveillance of the Middle East.
P-3 Orion aircraft have been exported to numerous U.S. Allies around the world.
Formerly a popular water bomber when equipped with a 3,000 gallon retardant tank in its belly, the P-3 Orion is being replaced by the P-8A Poseidon as the U. S. Navy’s land based anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
A total of some 757 P-3 Orion aircraft were built between 1961 and 1990.
RC P-3 Orion