Mark Pilling

Raytheon is using Farnborough as the launch pad for its bid to supply Germany and Italy with a remanufactured and modernized Lockheed Martin P-3 airframe for its maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) requirements.

The company's Aircraft Integration Systems business unit is presenting Procyon as the "only aircraft within the budget that meets the (operational) requirements" of the German and the Italian navies, claims Jim Schuster, President of AIS.

The company has named its project after the Procyon star system, where Procyon was one of two fearless dogs leading Orion on his hunts.

After studying their joint MPA demands, with Raytheon joining in on the systems side, Germany and Italy short-listed new Dassault Atlantiques, new Lockheed Martin P-3s and Raytheon's Procyon P-3.The US$3 billion programme calls for 14 aircraft for the Italian Navy and 10 for the German Navy.

A joint request for proposals will be called by the end of 2000, with a decision on the winner by the end of 2001. If successful, Raytheon AIS would deliver the first German aircraft in 2007 and the first Italian aircraft a year later.

Apart from the first test aircraft, which will be modified at the AIS factory in Greenville, Texas, all Procyons will be manufactured in either Germany or Italy, says Schuster. At first sight Raytheon AIS might not seem a front-runner for the German and Italian contract.

However, it has a long relationship with the German MoD dating back 30 years including the Peace Peak system integration project, and performed system upgrades for the Dassault, says Edward Gloviak, vice-president Navy and Maritime Programs.

According to AIS, the sums are also in its favour as Procyon is 30% cheaper than a new P-3.

Source: Flight Daily News