The German Navy is moving ahead with the upgrade of its eight Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), with the manufacturer announcing a USD158.5 million contract on 1 November.
The contract is for the second phase of a wider German P-3C upgrade effort that began in 2016 and is set to run for 10 years at a cost of about EUR567.6 million (USD659.4 million). This particular phase will include modernising the aircraft’s mission system processing suites, to be known as Mission System Refresh.
As noted by Lockheed Martin in its announcement, the Mission System Refresh programme will include the design, development, manufacture, integration, installation, and test of the company’s Airborne Tactical Mission System. The Airborne Tactical Mission System is an open architecture JAVA-based system, and upgrading it will reduce future obsolescence issues and costs. In addition to the Airborne Tactical Mission System, the Mission System Refresh will include a new acoustic processing system called the Airborne Rack-Mounted Commercial Portable Processor (AR-C2P) that will provide long-term sustainability in the P-3 aircraft.
Previous to this Mission System Refresh programme, the German Navy has contracted Lokcheed Martin and Airbus Defence and Space (DS) to replace outer wings, centre fuselages, and horizontal stabilisers on its P-3C fleet. By the time this work is complete in 2022, the life of each aircraft will be extended by 15,000 hours (equivalent to 20 years of normal service). In addition, whereas those aircraft with original wings are limited to 1.5 g, rewinged platforms have their full performance envelope of 2.5 g re-instated. Other contracted enhancements include new wings and stabilisers, an instrumented flight rules (IFR) capability upgrade, and a mission avionic upgrade.
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