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Portugal to buy German Orion MPAs

Germany is to offload six Orion MPAs to Portugal, under a deal announced on 30 August. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The Portuguese Air Force will acquire Lockheed P-3C CUP Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) from the German Federal Government.

The contract, pending signature, involves the acquisition of six aircraft for an amount of EUR45 million (USD48.8 million), to be financed between 2023 and 2027. The package also includes mid-life upgrade (MLU) sets, spares, support equipment, test benches, and simulators.

The Portuguese government formally authorised the acquisition on 30 August, after the decision to acquire the fleet was approved by the Council of Ministers on 24 August.

The Portuguese Air Force has identified this acquisition as an opportunity to guarantee the operation of the current P-3C CUP+ fleet over the coming years without significant constraints, ensuring sustainment with high levels of availability and increasing current aircraft readiness rates, since the necessary material available on the market is becoming scarce, the service told Janes on 31 August.

Portugal acquired three P-3C Update II.5 and two P-3C CUP CG aircraft from the Netherlands in 2006. The fleet was modernised by Lockheed Martin and OGMA Indústria Aeronáutica de Portugal to the P-3C CUP+ standard.

Upgrades included adding the ELTA Systems EL/M-2022A(V)3 surveillance radar, AAR-47 missile approach warning system, ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser, ALR-95 electronic support measures system, USQ-78B acoustic system, communications, and the MX-15HDi EO/IR imager.

Delivery of the fleet took place from 2010 to 2012 to Squadron 601 ‘Lobos' for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance, and search-and-rescue missions.

General Dynamics Mission Systems – Canada won a contract in 2022 to upgrade the aircraft's communications and mission electronics.

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