Pakistan Takes Delivery of P-3C Orion
By WENDELL MINNICK, TAIPEI
Pakistan’s Navy received the first of eight P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft during a formal ceremony Jan. 18 at the Mehran Naval Air Station in Karachi. A second aircraft is expected in February, but fulfillment of the contract is not expected until 2010.
The Navy named Lockheed Martin the sole-source contractor in June 2005 for a $300 million Foreign Military Sales contract. That same year, Florida-based Logistics Services International received a $30.3 million contract to provide training and logistical support.
The new P-3s will replace five Fokker F27-200 and three Breguet Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft. Pakistan had four Atlantiques, but India shot down one of the aircraft in 1999. Pakistan still has two operational P-3Cs acquired from Lockheed Martin in the early 1990s, but due to U.S. sanctions the aircraft were grounded from 2000 to 2005 by maintenance problems. Two were refurbished in 2005 and reactivated.
“In addition to aircraft sustainment work, the aircraft will complete mission systems upgrades compatible with the U.S. Navy P-3 AIP baseline developed by Lockheed Martin,” said Tierney Helmers, Lockheed Martin’s communications and public affairs officer. “Additional contract awards related to the mission system modification are expected in January 2007.”
New AEW Program
In December, the United States announced a possible $855 million sale of three P-3C Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft. These aircraft will be equipped with the Hawkeye 2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control suite. Pakistan plans to use the new aircraft to create an air defense network and provide AEW capability for its Navy. The primary contactor will be Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.
“The Pakistan Navy has also been in communication with the U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin to evaluate a P-3B Airborne Early Warning program,” Helmers said. “The Pakistan government provided a letter of request to the USN to evaluate three P-3B AEW aircraft. Discussions are ongoing about options to address this operational capability while maximizing leverage from the Pakistan P-3 MPA fleet.”