Singapore has shown an interest in possibly acquiring several of the US Navy's surplus P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, according to the type's former manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.
"They have issued a letter of request to look at P-3s," says Mark Jarvis, Lockheed's director, design and production for P-3 programmes. Singapore's interest could be for around four or five aircraft, he believes, with these to perhaps draw on the configuration of the 12 secondhand Orions due to be delivered to Taiwan from 2012.
Singapore - which currently operates five Fokker 50 maritime patrol aircraft - could potentially acquire surplus Orions as the US Navy begins to transition to its replacement, the Boeing 737-based P-8A Poseidon. Jarvis says the service could fly some of its aircraft to Lockheed's Greenville site in South Carolina to undergo overhaul and modernisation prior to their future delivery to third parties.
© Lockheed Martin
According to Lockheed, more than 430 P-3s are in the inventories of 17 nations around the world. The company is currently expecting to upgrade 54 of these for Canada, Norway, Taiwan, the US Customs and Border Protection agency and the USN. Jarvis says Germany "is probably our next customer", with the nation's navy expected to extend the lives of its eight-strong fleet.
Meanwhile, Jarvis says "a couple of operators" have expressed interest in the possible future integration of an upgraded 3.5 version of Rolls-Royce's T56 engine. This would improve reliability, fuel efficiency and performance, he says, and allow for extended-endurance operations.
The possible engine enhancement could also be combined with the use of new propellers, and potentially also with the addition of winglets. Some preliminary studies are under way on the latter idea, and Jarvis says: "We would look to get into the windtunnel maybe around the end of next year."