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PICTURE: Portugal poised to accept second upgraded P-3C Orion

By Rui Ferreira

The Portuguese air force should accept its second upgraded Lockheed Martin P-3C maritime patrol aircraft into operational use in March, following its arrival at Beja air base late last month.

Having been modified to the so-called CUP+ configuration at Lockheed's Greenville site in South Carolina, aircraft 14809's formal acceptance should coincide with the retirement of Portugal's last legacy P-3Ps. These are now flown by the air force's 601 Sqn.

Lockheed finished modernisation work on its first of two ex-Royal Netherlands Navy P-3Cs for Portugal last August, as part of a deal for five of the secondhand aircraft. The remaining three are being completed by OGMA in Alverca, with the $141 million upgrade project due to be complete by February 2012.

© Rui Ferreira

Key elements of the CUP+ modification include an Elta Systems EL/M-2022A multi-mission radar, an L-3 Wescam MX-15HDi high-definition electro-optical/infrared sensor and an upgraded central mission computer. The work also introduces an automatic ship identification system, plus new acoustics, communication and navigation equipment and a self-protection suite.

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