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P-3 Orion (United States)

The P-3C Orion is a maritime long-range patrol aircraft for anti-submarine warfare and patrol and surveillance missions. The P-3C has been developed by the American company Lockheed Martin based on the commercial Lockheed Electra Airliner airframe.
The Orion is used by many NATO countries to patrol above coastal area and against drugs smuggle. Orions are the "eyes" and "ears" of a fleet. The aircraft has many sensors en can be armored with missiles like the Harpoon and the MK50 torpedo.

Power Plant
The P-3 is equipped with 4 Allison T-56-A-14 turboprop engines (picture 1). These engine have a power of 4900 shp (each). The T56 has a 14-stage axial compressor which is driven by a 4-stage turbine. The gearbox has 2 stages. The combuster chamber is an can-annular type.

Picture 1



Design organisation Lockheed
Main secundary design organisations  
Production organisaton Lockheed, USA
Primary task Anti-submarine warfare, Anti-surface warfare
Type aircraft  
Length 35.6 meters (116.8 ft)
Height 11.8 meters (38.7 ft) (U.S. Navy: 33.7ft)
Wingspan 30.4 meters (99.7 ft)
Wing surface 120.8 m2 (1300 square ft)
Aspect ratio  
Sweep back  
Engines 4x Allison T56-A-14 turboprop engines
Thrust 4600 hp (each)
Weight (empty)  
Weight (start, maximum, MTOW) 64,410 kg (142,000 lb)
Weight (landing, maximum, MLW) 47,119 kg (103,880 lb)
Required runway length (start) 1297.3 meters (4.240 ft)
Required runway length (landing)  
Cruise speed 328 kts
350 KTAS at 25,000 ft
Maximum speed 411 kts
Ceiling 28,300 ft
Maximum range
Maximum endurance
4830 Nm (8944 km) Mission range: 2,380 Nm
16 hours
Fuel capacity 28,377 kg (62,560 lb)
Air-to-air-refueling capability  
Passengers none
Armament Possible combination of:

- AGM-84 Harpoon
- AGM-84H/K
- AGM-65F Maverick
- Mk 46/5054 Torpedoes
Maximum weapon load 20,000 pounds
Maximum G resistance  
Type flight controls  
Landing gear  
Manufactured +/- 750
Crew 3x pilots, 2x naval flight officers, 2x flight engineers, 3x sensor operators, 1x in-flight technician
Costs $ 36 million (FY??)
Overall flight hours  
First flight November 1959
First delivery  
Operational since P-3A: August 1962
P-3C: August 1969
Successor of  
Replaced by P-8 Poseidon
Comparable aircraft  
Operators (current and future) Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Greece, Iran, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, United States, South-Korea
Main operators United States Navy, Japan
Amphibious usage No
Status out of production, in operational service

The P-3 Orion is/was used by

1. Australia
2. Argentina
3. Brazil
4. Canada
5. Chile
6. Germany
7. Greece
8. Iran
9. Japan
10. Netherlands
11. New-Zealand
12. Norway
13. Pakistan
14. Portugal
15. Spain
16. Thailand
17. United States
18. South-Korea

1. Australia


4. Canada
Canada has a special P-3C Orion version; the CP-140 Aurora. This is the replacer of 30 Argus aircraft. In the beginning, Canada has bought 17 Aurora's.

6. Germany
Germany (Navy) bought 8 P-3C II orion airplanes from the Royal Netherlands Navy in 2004.

Germany P-3C II

9. Japan
The Japanese Navy has about 80 P-3C Orions.

Japan P-3C

10. the Netherlands
The Royal Netherlands Navy had 13 P-3C orions from the type P-3C II. Eight of them have been sold to Germany and 4 to Portugal. The Dutch crew consists of a: pilot, co-pilot, 2 board equipment experts, 1 tactical coordinator, 1 navigation/communication coordinator, 2 underwatersensor-operators, 1 non-acoustic sensor-operator and a aircraft board electrotechnician. During flight, normally engine No.1 was shut down to save fuel and put into the flight fine pitch.

The Dutch Orions were stationed on Valkenburg Naval Air Station - a unknown number on a air base in Iceland and the Dutch Antilles.
The Orions which were stationed on the Dutch Antilles have temporally been replaced by 2 converted Fokker 60 airplanes (after conversion designated as Fokker 60 MPA) from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Today there are replaced by 2 Dash 8 aircraft from the Dutch Coast Guard.

Dutch P-3C II Dutch P-3C  

15. Spain
The Spanish Air Force has 5 or 6 P-3 Orions.

P-3 P-3 P-3

17. United States
The US Navy has P-3C Orion version III airplanes. In march 1981 started Update III. After this came the Update III Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Program [AIP]. This foresees the aircraft with C3I systems and more survive chance and introduces also the ability for infra red Maverick missiles.

An important update in the cockpit is the Electronic Flight Display System (EFDS) which has replaced all analog displays and also introduced GPS. The actioradius is 12 hours without aerial refueling.

US Navy P-3C III US Navy P-3C III US Navy P-3C
US Navy VP-3A    

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Last updated: 21 April 2014