Portugal P 3 14808 credit GDMSC 640Portugal's P-3 Orion upgrade programme

On 9 October 2023, the first of five Força Aerea Portuguesa (FAP, Portuguese Air Force) P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) arrived at Halifax (Canada) for a modification and upgrade programme.

The aircraft, serial 14808 and adorned with Esquadra 601 (Esq601) Lobos (Wolves) special markings will be modernised by General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada (GDMSC) and IMP Aerospace & Defense. The companies will replace the Link 16 communication system, the transponder (electronic communication device), and install a new mission system, with the capacity for further evolution.

The aircraft is expected to return to Portugal by the end of Q1-2024 to complete the last phase of modification work at Base Aérea (BA) 11 Beja and carry out final acceptance tests. The remaining four Orions are expected to be upgraded in the period until 2025.

With regards to the six former Marineflieger (GN, German Navy) P-3C Orions, The P-3 Orion Research Group The Netherlands report that Portugal confirmed that the aircraft have been bought to keep their five Orions airworthy, so most likely they will be dismantled for spare parts. Scramble Magazine first reported on this sale on 5 September 2023.

The six German Navy Orions involved are: 60+03, 60+04, 60+05, 60+06, 60+07 and 60+08. The first P-8A Poseidon will be delivered to Germany in October 2024, the final operational flight of a German P-3C will take place during 2025.

Credit photo: GDMSC

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