Naval Air: Pakistan Gets P-3Cs Ahead of Schedule


November 19, 2005: Last month, Pakistan took early delivery of the first of eight ex-US Navy P-3C Orion aircraft as part of a Pakistan-US military assistance package. This is a big upgrade in Pakistan's maritime patrol and command-and-control capabilities as the Pakistan Navy has until recently been flying three far less capable Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft and five Fokker F-27-200/400 aircraft. In the fall of 2004, Pakistan's two remaining P-3C Update II.5 Orions, purchased between 1991 and 1996 (a third was lost in an accident), began getting upgrades. At that time, Pakistan had been preparing to buy eight older P-3B aircraft but subsequently placed an order instead for eight US Navy surplus P-3C aircraft, as well as a number of other weapons systems. The contract also includes upgrades to aircraft communications and avionics systems, plus training device assets, support and test equipment, engineering technical services, supply support, operations and maintenance training, and logistics.

As part of the deal, the P-3Cs would be upgraded to the Update III Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) and Block Modification Upgrade Program (BMUP) standards. The P-3C Update III AIP provides the following: the capability of carrying the Maverick infrared-guided missile; the AN/AAS-36A infrared detection set; the AN/AVX-1 electro-optical sensor system; the AN/APS-137B(V)5 synthetic-aperture radar (SAR), which also has an inverse-SAR mode; the EP-2060 pulse analyzer; color high-resolution displays; the Over-the-Horizon Airborne Sensor Information System (OASIS) III, and the OZ-72(V) Multimission Advanced Tactical Terminal (MATT) system. For self-protection, the AIP standard includes the AN/AAR-47 missile-warning system; the AN/ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser; and the AN/ALR-66C(V)3 electronic-support-measures system. The BMUP modification, meanwhile, consists of a new data-processing subsystem based on the CP-2451/ASQ-227 digital computer and a new acoustic subsystem based on the USQ-78B display and control unit, plus the capability to carry the Standoff Land Attack Missile - Expanded Response (SLAM-ER). In addition, Pakistan has also expressed the intention of adding modifications to the aircraft to allow carrying the French Exocet and Chinese C-802 anti-ship missiles and the French-Italian A244 torpedo.

The P-3C aircraft for Pakistan will be paid for, in part, through US military assistance as part of the global war on terror, and the total cost for the eight airplanes plus upgrades is estimated to be $970 million. The upgrades will be done through depot-level maintenance overhaul and mission-systems upgrades in the US and Pakistan, although the exact locations have yet to be determined. The eight P-3Cs are part of a total buy worth $1.3 billion. Other weapons included in the entire package are 2,000 TOW-2A missiles, fourteen TOW-2A Fly-to-Buy missiles, 60 Harpoon Missiles, six PHALANX rapid-fire 20-millimeter guns, and the upgrade of six additional gun systems. This 2005 delivery beats the initial first estimated delivery date of 2006. All eight aircraft are to have been delivered by 2009.


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