AN UPGRADE and modernisation programme for the Hellenic Air Force’s P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft has now begun. A ceremony was hosted by the Hellenic Navy, Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) and Lockheed Martin today, July 25, at HAI’s facilities in Tanagra, north of Athens, to mark the official launch of the programme.
On July 13, the first of two HAF P-3B Orions were successfully transferred from Elefsis Air Base to HAI’s facilities at Tanagra. Attending today’s ceremony were leaders representing the Hellenic Defense Ministry, the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, the Hellenic Navy, the HAF, the GDDIA, the US Embassy in Greece, Lockheed Martin and HAI, as well as local authorities.
As previously reported on AFD, on February 11 this year, the US Navy awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics an $141.9 million contract to modernize the P-3B aircraft for the government of Greece.
Dimitris Vitsas, the Alternate Minister of National Defense for Greece, said: “During the current difficult and critical times for Southeast 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. In addition, the government-to-government agreement between Greece and the United States guarantees absolute transparency, fair and reasonable programme cost, the participation of the Hellenic Defense Industry and provides unique operational capabilities for the Hellenic Armed Forces.”
This contract provides for the reactivation of one P-3B and the procurement of software and hardware kits for the upgrade/modernization of a total of four P-3Bs. The Mid-Life Upgrade kits will provide an extension of service life by 15,000 flight hours. In addition, this contract provides for phased depot maintenance; a Greece indigenous mission integration and management system; new avionics; and other ancillary hardware and services.
Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, said: “The selection of P-3B and its upgrade is the most advantageous solution for the country. With the criterion of fulfilling the operational requirements of the Hellenic Navy, the P-3 with the MLU programme through the government agreement of Greece and the USA offers the optimal combination of cost-effectiveness.”
Vice Admiral George Giakoumakis, chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff. Commented: “The Hellenic Navy was deprived the services of a maritime patrol aircraft. The launch of the modernization and upgrade works of the P-3B aircraft of the Hellenic Navy covers an operational requirement of vital importance and this is taking place with the largest possible Greek added value.”
The P-3 Orion is the standard for maritime patrol and reconnaissance, and is used for homeland security, anti-piracy operations, humanitarian relief, search and rescue, intelligence gathering, antisubmarine warfare and, recently, to assist in air traffic control and natural disaster relief support.
Dennys Plessas, vice president of Business Development Initiatives at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said: “Greece’s domestic defence industry will absorb approximately 30% of the programme’s value, driving significant industrial, economic and technological advantages for the autonomous operation and support of this mission system.” In addition to the HAI facilities near Athens, in Schimatari, Greece, work on these P-3Bs will be performed in Marietta, Georgia; Greenville, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States.