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25 Jul 02. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. Vice President of Special Mission and Reconnaissance Aircraft Programs Ted Samples said that more than 450 P-3s are in active service with the U.S. Navy and 15 international operators, making the P-3 Orion the world’s standard for maritime patrol aircraft.

Samples briefed international reporters on the P-3 Orion and how it has played a significant role in maritime patrol in the past and is ready to meet future requirements.

While discussing the five Lockheed Martin companies dedicated to the support of the P-3 worldwide, Samples announced that a new teaming arrangement with Vought Industries to manufacture new wings for the P-3 will provide P-3 operators around the world with a proven, low-risk means of extending the life of their Orion fleets.

“The P-3’s most critical assembly is the wing, and the manufacturing processes and facilities at Vought Aircraft Industries will provide the world’s P-3 operators with economic wing replacement alternatives,” Samples said. “We are excited about the future of the proven and versatile P-3 Orion. Ongoing product improvements — combined with Lockheed Martin’s vast experience as the U.S. Navy’s premier designer, developer and integrator of maritime patrol systems — will continue to be applied to our P-3 customers’ needs.”

To further demonstrate the capabilities of Lockheed Martin’s P-3 team and its
ability to leverage capabilities across numerous Lockheed Martin business units,
Samples discussed a recent contract with the U.S. Customs Service to upgrade
four of its P-3B Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft. Lockheed Martin Aircraft
& Logistics Centers in Greenville, S.C., will perform the modification work;
Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems in Eagan, Minn., and
Syracuse, N.Y., will provide the mission avionics suite and the APS-145 radar,
and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. is serving as prime contractor, performing
the engineering, integration and test activities, and managing the execution of
the program.

Samples discussed P-3 business opportunities Lockheed Martin is currently
pursuing to include the U.S. Navy’s Maritime Multimission Aircraft program
designed to replace the Navy’s aging P-3 fleet. Lockheed Martin submitted its
proposal in May 2002 and will offer a fully modernized new production P-3.
Another business pursuit Samples discussed is the joint Germany and Italy
Maritime Patrol Aircraft Replacement (MPA-R) program. The program, which calls
for 10 aircraft for Germany and 14 for Italy, has an estimated value of more
than $3bn. Lockheed Martin will submit its proposal tomorrow (July 26) and
again will be offering a new production P-3.

In the face of new business opportunities, Samples acknowledged the possibility of restarting the P-3 assembly line. With the last eight new production P-3C airplanes delivered from the company’s Marietta, Ga., USA, facility, Samples said, Marietta would appear to be the most cost-effective site should the line restart.

Samples ended his presentation by reminding his audience that the P-3 remains the world standard in maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft and will be in service with the U.S. Navy and its international operators well into the 21st century. “The P-3 is a significant force-multiplier due to its multimission capabilities and has a strong support infrastructure, giving it a well-defined path for future enhancements,” Samples said.

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