On the last 10 of October, the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa-FAP) has received the last P-3C CUP+ Orion maritime patrol aircraft upgraded by the U.S. firm Lockheed Martin.
The five former Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) P-3C Orion aircraft were purchased by the Portuguese procurement agency DGAIED (Direção-Geral de Armamento e Infra-Estruturas de Defesa) to the DMO (Defensie Materieel Organisatie). In 2007, a EUR 99.7 million contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin to upgrade the fleet to the P-3C CUP+ Orion configuration. Portugal´s OGMA-Indústria Aeronáutica de Portugal has upgraded the last three units.
The upgrade program has comprised the integration of several new items including Elta Systems EL/M 2022A(V)3 multi-mode maritime surveillance radar, L-3 Wescam MX-15 HDi imaging system, ALR-95 electronic support measures system, AAR-47 missile warning system, ALE-47 counter measure dispensing system and USQ-78B acoustic sensor.
The aircraft was also fitted with provisions for the launch of AGM-84 Harpoon and AGM-65 Maverick missiles, MK 46 Mod 5 lightweight torpedo system, depth charges and standard general purpose bombs.
With the modernization, the aircraft is capable to carry tasks such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, mine warfare, search & rescue, combat support, communications relay and maritime surveillance.
The type replaces the P-3P Orion aircraft within the 601 Squadron “Lobos” based at Beja Air Base Nº11. Six P-3B Orion units were received from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in the 80´s and upgraded to the P-3P Orion version by Lockheed Martin and OGMA-Indústria Aeronáutica de Portugal.