Lockheed Wins Taiwan P-3 Avionics Contract
By WENDELL MINNICK
TAIPEI - Lockheed Martin will supply mission system spares to outfit new avionics components for 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft ordered by Taiwan under a $47.5 million contract, according to a Pentagon announcement Jan. 6.
Work on the firm, fixed-price contract under the Pentagon's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program will be performed in the U.S. and is expected to be completed in December 2012. The U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division was the contracting activity.
The award follows a Dec. 23 FMS announcement of a $10 million contract awarded to Pacific Propeller International, based in Kent, Wash., for refurbishing 56 P-3C HS54H60-77 propeller assemblies for Taiwan's P-3Cs. Work is expected to be completed in August 2014.
The U.S. approved the export for 12 P-3s in 2001, but Taiwan was unable to secure funds for the sale until 2007 due to internal political infighting. Delivery was also stalled by a late bid from L-3 Communications to compete against Lockheed Martin. In September 2007, the U.S. notified the U.S. Congress of a contract award to Lockheed worth $1.96 billion. Lockheed is expected to complete delivery of all 12 aircraft by 2015.
The P-3s will replace aging Grumman S-2T Turbo Tracker ASW aircraft acquired during the 1980s after a conversion of Taiwan's older S-2E/G to T standards. Sources have indicated only a handful are still operational and that none are mission capable. Taiwan's Navy operates a number of operational ASW helicopters, including 500MD Defender and the S-70C(M)-1/2 helicopters.
China's submarine capabilities continue to grow with new builds of nuclear-powered and diesel-electric submarines, now numbering about 60. Taiwan has only two conventional Dutch-built diesel-electric attack submarines and two World War II-era U.S.-built Guppy-class submarines used for training.