In 1964, The RAAF began the process of replacing their ageing fleet of PV-2 Neptunes which had been the frontline aircraft for Australia’s maritime patrol and surveillance.
Five years later saw Australia’s No 11 squadron take delivery of ten Orion P3B variants delivered in 1969 followed by another eight P3C’s delivered in 1978 to replace the Neptunes of No 10 Squadron in Townsville.
Not only did the P3B’s high-performance Allison T56-A-14 engines give Australia’s maritime patrol fleet a significantly increased cruising speed and longer range than the Neptune’s - enabling it to take on a much larger role in anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue and coastal surveillance, the P3-C’s also delivered a quantum leap forward in airborne electronics and surveillance capability.
While the basic airframe and appearance of the P3-C differed little from the previous variant, the new suite of electronics saw the reduction of crew from 12 to 10 and the introduction of the new Australian Barra Passive Sonobuoy System together with an infra-red detection system to boost its search & rescue capabilities.
The PC’s offensive capabilities were also significantly upgraded with the addition of the AGM-84 Harpoon long-range anti-ship missile and upgraded acoustic processing equipment and more sensitive acoustic sensors.
By 1981, all of the remaining P3B’s had been replaced with 10 new P3C’s which have undergone continual upgrades throughout their service including the fitting of a new Elta EL/M-2022(V)3 radar, a nose-mounted Star Safire III electro-optical and infrared system and a "highly capable" signals and electronic intelligence (SIGINT/ELINT) equipment, the UYS 503 acoustic system. The latest Mark 46 or MU90 Impact torpedoes, mines, and a range of sonar buoys were also installed.
Across their operational life, Australia’s P3 Orions have seen extensive worldwide service with missions conducted in the Middle East during the Iraq war and current peace keeping activities as well as Afghanistan, Somalia, the Philippines and the South China Sea.
By the end of 2019 it is anticipated that all of Australia’s P3C’c will be totally replaced with the new Boeing P-8 Poseidons and 6-8 MQ-4C Triton drone vehicles.
All P3 Orion Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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