The P-3C Orion provides effective undersea warfare, antisurface warfare, and C4/ISR capabilities to naval and joint commanders. The current force of 12 active and eight reserve squadrons supports the theater and fleet commanders requirements for 40 P-3Cs continuously forward-deployed. Orions provide long-range, high-endurance support to aircraft carrier battle groups and amphibious ready groups.

The Navy's P-3 modernization plan is focusing on providing a more tailored force optimized for regional and littoral conflict. The key elements of the plan are mission system upgrades, sustaining inventory, and reducing multiple configurations. The specific programs include:


The conversion of remaining P-3C aircraft to the Update III digital system architecture will result in one common fleet (active and reserve) configuration. Update III is the baseline configuration required to use advanced sensors and weapons. This program will enhance interoperability, replace obsolete components, and reduce support costs of maintaining varied avionics-configured airframes.


The Antisurface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) will provide an enhanced sensor and weapon capability. The program includes the incorporation of the Stand off Land Attack and Maverick missiles, survivability enhancements, an advanced imaging radar, and electro-optic sensors. Other upgrades include improved C4I, and provisions for the near real-time connectivity of surveillance/reconnaissance data with battle group and national command decision makers.


There are two funded service life-sustainment programs in place that will extend the P-3C's service life to 50 years. They are the Sustained Readiness Program (SRP) and the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). SRP is a material condition upgrade which will redress corrosion areas and allow the P-3 to extend the current projected fatigue life of the airframe (20,000 hours). Long term, the SLEP will certify the airframe for an additional ten years of fatigue life. These service life extensions will delay the requirement for a follow-on aircraft - the notional Multimission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) - until approximately FY 2015.


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