Taiwan, India Pursue Purchase of P-3Cs

(c) K.B. Sherman, 2002

Despite a recent report in The Taipei Times that Taiwan may have delayed its decision to buy P-3C aircraft, a source at Lockheed Martin said that both Taiwan and India are continuing to actively discuss details of just such purchases. Taiwan has indicated that it wants to replace its 26 elderly S-2T airplanes with 12 new Orions, although the Times reports that because of budget constraints (which are said to include Taiwan’s desire to also purchase new technology submarines), the ROC might be unable to do so. The US government agreed to sell the aircraft to Taiwan last April, plus eight diesel-powered submarines and four Kidd-class destroyers.

In related news, The Hindustan Times has reported that after 50 years, India is poised to get new US combat systems, including P-3 aircraft. The P-3 has become an unlikely star since the Gulf War as it found itself the only US aircraft capable of doing anti-submarine warfare, open ocean anti-shipping warfare, standoff missile attack warfare, over the horizon targeting and communications relay, long-range manned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and more. Because of recent disagreements over relations with Pakistan, India has until now been off Washington’s list of approved export customers. The latest P-3C – the Update III.5 – can carry ten tons of weapons, including the Harpoon and Maverick missiles. It also carries the AN/ALQ-78A Electronic Countermeasures Set, AN/ARC-187 UHF satellite radio set, AN/ARN-151(V)1 Global Positioning System [GPS], AN/ALR-66A/B(V)3 ESM Set with EP-2060 Pulse Analyzer, AN/AAS-36A Infrared Detecting Set [IRDS], AN/AVX-1 Electro-Optical Sensor System, and AN/APS-137B(V)5 Radar.

A source at Lockheed Martin indicated that these sales might be a prelude to reopening the P-3 production line. Such a move would also give a boost to creating a modified Orion as a potential contender for the US Navy’s Multimission Maritime Aircraft, expected to be worth over $ 3 billion in US sales alone.