General Dynamics begins first Portuguese P-3C modernisation
General Dynamics (GD) Mission Systems – Canada has announced the induction of the first of five P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) from the Portuguese Air Force for an upgrade.
The work is being carried out in partnership with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) at IMP Aerospace & Defence facilities in Halifax.
GD said it will use its Airborne Data Management System to modify the communications and mission electronics of the P-3C. The solution has been installed on more than 50 aircraft to date.
The modifications are said to be drawing from Canada’s investment in the newly modernised CP-140 Block IV, which will allow Portugal to maintain the capabilities required to fulfil NATO missions.
IMP Aerospace will install the new systems and will work together with GD to test the upgrades in early 2024.
‘This modification program is crucial for our P-3C fleet in order to ensure that the platform continues to respond adequately to the current and future operational scenarios,’ said Brigadier General Nogueira, director of the engineering and programs directorate for Portuguese Air Force.
At the end of August 2023, the Portuguese Government authorised its air force to acquire six P-3C CUP Orion from Germany. The contract, worth €45 million ($48 million), includes mid-life upgrade (MLU) sets, spares, support equipment, test benches and simulators. A contract is expected to be signed by early 2024.
Portugal initially procured six former Royal Australian Air Force P-3s, which were replaced by five ex-Royal Netherlands Navy aircraft. They are now being upgraded by GD and IMP Aerospace & Defence.
The aircraft that are expected to be acquired from Germany will also be second-hand platforms purchased from the Netherlands.
The Lockheed Martin-built P-3 Orion MPA has been in service with 21 operators across 17 countries in a variety of standards, designations and configurations, many of which have undergone modernisation or have recently been undergoing upgrades.
Chile's two P-3As were also upgraded by Canada's IMP, starting in 2017. Germany, just like Greece, chose to contract Lockheed Martin directly for P-3 modernisation in the same year.
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