Lockheed Continues to Support the P-3C Fleet

by: Matthew Potter
March 16, 2011

Category: Boeing, Business Line, Companies, development program, Editorial, Lockheed Martin, Military Aviation, production program | RSS 2.0

Even though the U.S. Navy is developing the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to replace the current fleet of P-3C Orions it still must keep that aircraft flying until Boeing (BA) starts delivering the 737 based aircraft. The Lockheed Martin (LMT) designed and built Orion must continue to be available and perform anti-submarine, surveillance and reconnaissance missions around the world.

The P-8 is currently undergoing testing at Patuxent River Naval Air Station while the first production aircraft is well into fabrication. The P-8 has also been sold to India as part of one of the largest arms deals with that nation.

So even though its replacement is going to enter service in the near future Lockheed received a contract worth over $130 million to build wing assemblies and provide engineering and logistical support to the P-3 aircraft.

Modern military aircraft fly for decades with new variants and upgrades introduced incrementally over the life of the system. The U.S. is slowly introducing replacements for a fleet of aircraft that mostly came into service in the Eighties. This includes the biggest program of them all Lockheed’s Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) which will become the major tactical aircraft in the Air Force, Navy and Marine inventory over the next twenty years.

The award of the KC-46A contract to Boeing this month means that the KC-135 tankers will begin to be retired and reportedly a new bomber is in the works to supplement the B-52, B-1 and B-2 fleet. Because aircraft do now have such long service lives the slow development and replacement cycle is not as critical as it was in the past.

The P-3 will continue to fly alongside the P-8 for several years as the Navy upgrades this capability.

Photo from Kingbob86’s flickr photostream.

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