Lockheed Martin and Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) have officially launched the Hellenic Navy’s P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft modernisation and upgrade programme.

The launch was marked with the transfer of the first of two P-3Bs to HAI’s facilities at Tanagra, Greece.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics was awarded a $141.9m firm-fixed-price, undefinitized contract in February by the US Navy to upgrade the P-3B aircraft for Greece.

Under the contract, Lockheed will reactivate one P-3B aircraft and supply software and hardware kits to upgrade a total of four Hellenic Navy P-3Bs.

Greece National Defence alternate minister Dimitris Vitsas said: “During the current difficult and critical times for South-East Europe and the Mediterranean, the reconstitution of the operational capabilities of this programme is a defence priority for the Ministry and the Hellenic Armed Forces.

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“In addition, the government-to-government agreement between Greece and the US guarantees absolute transparency, fair and reasonable programme cost, the participation of the Hellenic Defence Industry and provides unique operational capabilities for the Hellenic Armed Forces.”

"The reconstitution of the operational capabilities of this programme is a defence priority for the Ministry and the Hellenic Armed Forces."

The mid-life upgrade (MLU) is expected to expand the service life of the aircraft to 15,000 flight hours.

Lockheed will also support the phased depot maintenance, a Greece indigenous mission integration and management system; new avionics, and other hardware and services.

Work under the contract is being performed at HAI facilities in Greece, as well as in Georgia; Greenville, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland, US.

The P-3 Orion is a multimission, maritime, long-endurance aircraft designed to conduct a range of missions, such as maritime patrol and reconnaissance, homeland security, anti-piracy operations, humanitarian relief, search-and-rescue, intelligence gathering and antisubmarine warfare, as well as assist in air traffic control and natural disaster relief support.

Image: A P-3C Orion aircraft flying over Japan. Photo: courtesy of Sgt. Gary Coppage via Wikipedia.