P-3C aircraft

The Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy has received approval from the country’s joint chiefs of staff to procure maritime patrol aircraft, to boost surveillance capabilities.

An unnamed military source told Yonhap News Agency that the navy is considering purchasing a total of 20 maritime patrol aircraft to strengthen its surveillance capabilities against North Korea near the guarded western sea.

The aircraft will complement the ageing squadron of 16 Lockheed Martin-built P-3C anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft.

The state arms procurement agency Defense Acquisition Program Administration is currently working on the plan, which is likely to cost approximately $889m.

Potential bidders for the acquisition programme include Airbus Military’s C295 multirole maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon aircraft, and Lockheed Martin’s SC-130J Sea Hercules.

Meanwhile, the South Korean Navy has placed orders with L-3 Mission Integration and Korean Air team to upgrade its eight P-3C Orion aircraft to Lot 2 standards by 2016, according to Flightglobal.

"The plan is likely to cost approximately $889m."

Upgrades to the P-3C aircraft include installation of multipurpose radar to enable detection of fixed and moving targets, high-definition electro-optical/infrared cameras, digital acoustic analysis equipment and a magnetic anomaly detector, according to Defense News.

L-3 Mission Integration surveillance systems senior director Brent Billingslea said that the aircraft would be equipped with mission system to enhance capabilities, while being completely compatible and interoperable with existing P-3 fleet for the navy.

Under the contract, L-3 will be responsible for the design and development of upgrades, while Korean Air will integrate the equipment on to the aircraft.

Armed with Harpoon Block II air-to-ground missiles, the P-3C aircraft is equipped with four Allison T56-A-14 turboprop engines, as well as tactical information system interoperable with the KF-16 fighter jet.

Image: A P-3C Orion aircraft performing mission. Photo: file image.

Defence Technology