The Chilean Navy reports, the first of two Chilean Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs) undergoing modernisation and mid-life upgrade work in Canada was delivered back to Chile in the first week of December. Work on the aircraft started in April 2017 under a USD36 million contract awarded to the Canadian firm IMP. The second aircraft, which has been undergoing work since mid-2018, is expected to be ready and delivered within the first half of 2020.
IMP is to upgrade the aircraft’s wings and stabilizers, engines, and avionics. The current Allison T56-A10 engines will be replaced with T56-A14 engines. Rockwell Collins’ Flight2 avionics suite of communications, navigation and surveillance equipment will be installed to integrate new-generation avionics with legacy sensors, radios, autopilot and aircraft systems. The work performed in Canada included the complete replacement of the wings by LMA. The overhaul and upgrade will help keep the aircraft operational until 2037.
Chilean Navy operate four P-3A; based at Base Aeronaval Torquemada, Concón. The Chilean navy received four P-3A, surplus from the U.S., in the early nineties, and commissioned three devices as patrol aircraft, while a fourth plane of that type was designed to transport functions personnel. Chile plans to extend their service lives past 2030 by changing the wings, modernizing the engines, and integrating the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.
Chilean Navy has a third P-3 in its inventory, which could also potentially be sent to Canada to undergo the same works.
The Lockheed P-3 Orion is a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft developed for the United States Navy and introduced in the 1960s. Lockheed based it on the L-188 Electra commercial airliner. Numerous navies and air forces around the world continue to use the P-3 Orion, primarily for maritime patrol, reconnaissance, anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare. A total of 757 P-3s have been built, it joined the handful of military aircraft including the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, Lockheed C-130 Hercules and the Lockheed U-2 that have seen over 50 years of continuous use by the United States military.