Portugal P 3 6004 ETSI Manching 18Nov20 Dietmar Fenners file info 560 Portugal P 3 14808 LPBJ 28Aug18 Eric van Rossum 1 560

Portugal buys German P-3C Orions

On 30 August 2023, the Portuguese Council of Ministers authorised the Força Aerea Portuguesa (FAP, Portuguese Air Force) to buy six former Marineflieger (GN, German Navy) P-3C Orions.

According to the information, the package is consisting of six aircraft, Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) sets, spares, support equipment and test benches, as well as flight simulators and tactical procedures, for a maximum amount of EUR 45 million. The budgetary costs will be divided equally over the years 2023 until 2027.

The FAP P-3C CUP+ Orions are operated by Esquadra 601 (Esq601) Lobos (Wolves) at Base Aerea Beja. According to the Scramble Magoazine database, Esq601 has five former Marine Luchtvaart Dienst (MLD, Royal Netherlands Navy) P-3C in it's inventory of which one aircraft is already stored for two years.

The German Orions, operated by Marinefliegergeschwader 3 Graf Zeppelin at Nordholz, have a slightly different avionics and mission systems suite compared to Esq601’s fleet. It is unknown how Portugal will tackle the differences and how they will utilise the MLU sets.

Germany decided to terminate the P-3C MLU programme in June 2020. MFG5 has a fleet of eight former MLD and one former US Navy Orion (in use as instructional airframe). From this fleet, one will go to the museum at Nordholz (serial 60+01) and one will become a gate guard at Nordholz (serial 60+22). Four aircraft are operational at this moment (serials 60+03, 60+04, 60+06 and 60+08) and three are stored (serials 60+02 at Manching and 60+05 and 60+07 at Nordholz).

Photos by Dietmar Fenners and Eric van Rossum (both Scramble Archive)

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