AP-3C operations could continue until 2025 after Boeing P-8A replacement rejected

Australia’s Department of Defence is studying options to extend operations of its air force Lockheed Martin AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft by 10 years, keeping the type in service until 2025.

AP-3C - Australian DOD big

The new target has been established through a maritime surveillance capability review initiated by defence minister Robert Hill earlier this year when Canberra dropped its plan to join the US Navy’s BoeingP-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft programme (Flight Inter­national, 31 May–6 June).

The review includes a study of options to reduce the Royal Australian Air Force’s current fleet of 18 maritime surveillance and one electronic intelligence-gathering aircraft to 10-12 platforms, with the associated capability gap to be filled by Australia’s proposed Project Air 7000 multi-mission unmanned air vehicle acquisition. Government funding decisions on the latter programme are expected to be delayed until well into 2006, with the National Security Committee having failed to consider the project last July.

A 10-year capability plan issued in February 2004 proposed the introduction of an AP-3C replacement from 2013-15 under an acquisition worth A$4.5 billion ($3.4 billion), but the decision to defer this purchase will provide significant relief to Australia’s already stressed defence budget. All capability acquisitions are now the subject of an overarching review.


Source: Flight International