USN P-3C Orion Aircraft Upgraded

The U.S. Navy took delivery in January of 10 newly configured P-3C Orions installed with an upgraded acoustic system — the Acoustic Receiver Technology Refresh (ARTR) — that enhances the aircraft’s ability tenfold to receive and analyze sonobuoy data, a basic P-3C mission requirement.

The upgrades will help bridge the technology gap between the Orion and the service’s next generation maritime patrol and anti-sub warfare (ASW) aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, creating a more common and efficient fleet.

The Navy also is establishing common signal processing code and hardware for the two fleets.

The acoustic technology upgrades are vital for the fleet, Navy program officials say, as the service moves toward a higher-altitude ASW mission mind-set. At higher altitudes, the aircraft can operate more efficiently and track more targets.

The P-8As are on schedule, program officials say, to meet initial operational capability in 2013. The Navy still plans to buy a total of 117 Poseidons, with an estimated flyaway cost of about $150 million per aircraft.

The Navy plans to deliver 74 mission-ready Orions installed with ARTR by 2012.

During the next two years, the Navy will further upgrade the P-3’s acoustics to improve its ability to digitally monitor sonobuoys and process multi-sensory input.

The Navy also has developed an Orion Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) system to improve the aircraft’s ASW networking capabilities.

The improved Orions will be able to use Link-16 — which offers enhanced situational awareness and interoperability with U.S. Navy surface fleets, other military services and NATO forces — and an international maritime satellite from Inmarsat that provides encrypted broadband services for the fleet.



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