Pakistan to purchase fleet of P-3C aircraft from US

As reported recently, Pakistan has been seeking to upgrade its maritime patrol aircraft capabilities. Last fall, Portuguese aircraft refitter OGMA was chosen by Lockheed Martin to refit for service Pakistanís two P-3C Update II.5 ďOrionsĒ (one was lost in an accident), purchased between 1991 and 1996. Last fall, Pakistan was reported ready to buy eight P-3B aircraft from the US through the Foreign Military Sales Program.

In May, 2005, Pakistan placed, instead, an order for eight US Navy surplus P-3C aircraft, six Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems, and at least 60 Harpoon Missiles, worth a total of $1.3 billion. The Pentagon reported the sale of the aircraft and equipment to Congress which was expected to approve it quickly. Pakistan publicly noted that the new Orions will be used not only for maritime air patrol but for their command-and-control capabilities in controlling its littorals and coasts.

A Lockheed Martin spokesperson provided additional details. While the aircraft will be from the USí P-3C inventory, as part of the deal, they will be upgraded to US AIP and BMUP standards. The P-3C Update III Anti SUrface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) provides the following: the IR Maverick Missile; AN/AAS-36A Infrared Detecting Set [IRDS]; AN/AVX-1 Electro-Optical Sensor System [EOSS]; AN/APS-137B(V)5 SAR/ISAR Radar; EP-2060 Pulse Analyzer/ AN/ALR-66C(V)3 set; Color High Resolution Displays [CHRD]; Over-the-Horizon Airborne Sensor Information System [OASIS] III; OZ-72(V) Multi-Mission Advanced Tactical Terminal [MATT] system; AN/USC-42(V)3 Miniaturized Demand Assigned Multiple Access [Mini-DAMA]; AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning System [MWS]; AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing System [CMDS]; and AN/ALR-66C(V)3 Electronic Support Measures Set. The BMUP mod includes a data processing subsystem based on the CP-2451/ASQ-227 digital computer and an acoustic subsystem based on the USQ-78B display and control unit, plus the capability to carry the Standoff Land Attack Missile - Expanded Response.

While Pakistanís reason for buying the P-3C vs. the P-3B was not shared with Lockheed, the fact that Pakistan already has several P-3Cs that will be upgraded to the same standard makes the decision understandable. The aircraft will be drawn from excess US Navy assets. Approximately 140 P-3Cs have been prematurely retired by the US in the past two years as the result of both wear-and-tear and in an attempt to save money while the P-8A Multimission Maritime Aircraft is spooled up for introduction to the US fleet in 2012-2014. The new P-3C aircraft will be paid for in part through US military assistance for Pakistan as part of the war on international terrorism and the total cost for the eight airplanes plus upgrades is initially 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 locations have yet to be determined. The contract is expected to be signed by the end of 2005 and the aircraft will be completed and delivered to Pakistan between 2006 and 2009. As noted above, Pakistanís two existing P-3Cs will also be upgraded to the same standards. Dollar value for their upgrade was previously estimated at $9.8 million, not including unspecified spare parts.

Pakistan is buying eight freshly updated P-3C aircraft for its littoral and coastal security needs.