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Lockheed P-3 Orion
Maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft family
The first production version, designated P3V-1, was launched on 15 April 1961. Initial squadron deliveries to Patrol Squadron Eight (VP-8) and Patrol Squadron Forty Four (VP-44) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, began in August 1962. On 18 September 1962 the U.S. military transitioned to a unified designation system for all services, with the aircraft being renamed the P-3 Orion. Paint schemes have changed from early 1960s gloss seaplane gray and white to mid-1960s/1970s/1980s/early 1990s gloss white and gray, to mid-1990s flat finish low-visibility gray with fewer and smaller markings. In the early 2000s the paint scheme changed to its current overall gloss gray finish with the original full-size color markings. However, large-size Bureau Numbers on the vertical stabilizer and squadron designations on the fuselage remained largely omitted.
P-3 Orions from Japan, Canada, Australia, Republic of Korea and the United States at MCAS Kaneohe Bay during RIMPAC 2010.
In 1963, the U.S. Navy Bureau of Weapons (BuWeps) contracted Univac Defense Systems Division of Sperry-Rand to engineer, build and test a digital computer (then in its infancy) to interface with the many sensors and newly developing display units of the P-3 Orion. Project A-NEW was the engineering system which, after several early trials, produced the engineering prototype, the CP-823/U, Univac 1830, Serial A-1, A-NEW MOD3 Computing System. The CP-823/U was delivered to the Naval Air Development Center (NADC) at Johnsville, Pennsylvania in 1965, and directly led to the production computers later equipped on the P-3C Orion.
Three civilian Electras were lost in fatal accidents between February 1959 and March 1960. Following the third crash the FAA restricted the maximum speed of Electras until the cause could be determined. After an extensive investigation, two of the crashes (in September 1959 and March 1960) were found to be caused by insufficiently strong engine mounts, unable to damp a whirling motion that could affect the outboard engines. When the oscillation was transmitted to the wings, a severe vertical vibration escalated until the wings were torn from the aircraft. The company implemented an expensive modification program, labelled the Lockheed Electra Achievement Program or LEAP, in which the engine mounts and wing structures supporting the mounts were strengthened, and some wing skins replaced with thicker material. All the surviving Electras of the 145 built at that time were modified at Lockheed's expense at the factory, the modifications taking 20 days for each aircraft. The changes were incorporated in subsequent aircraft as they were built.
Sales of Electra airliners were limited, as Lockheed's technical fix did not serve to completely erase the aircraft's "jinxed" reputation, in an era in which turboprop-powered aircraft were being replaced by faster jets. In a military role where fuel efficiency was more valued than speed, the Orion has been in service over 50 years after its 1962 introduction. Although surpassed in production longevity by the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, 734 P-3s were produced through 1990. Lockheed Martin opened a new P-3 wing production line in 2008 as part of its Service Life Extension Program (ASLEP) for delivery in 2010. A complete ASLEP replaces the outer wings, center wing lower section and horizontal stabilizers with newly built parts.
In the 1990s, during a U.S. Navy attempt to identify a successor aircraft to the P-3, the improved P-7 was selected over a navalized variant of the twin turbofan-powered Boeing 757, but this program was subsequently cancelled. In a second program to procure a successor, the advanced Lockheed Martin Orion 21, another P-3 derived aircraft, lost out to the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, a Boeing 737 variant, which entered service in 2013.
USN P-3A of VP-49 in the original blue/white colors
Underside view of a USN P-3C showing the MAD (rear boom) and external sonobuoy launch tubes (grid of black spots towards the rear)
German Navy Rolls Royce Allison T56-A-14 engine with Hamilton Standard 54H60-77 propeller
The P-3 is equipped with a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) in the extended tail. This instrument is able to detect the magnetic anomaly of a submarine in the Earth's magnetic field. The limited range of this instrument requires the aircraft to be near the submarine at low altitude. Because of this, it is primarily used for pinpointing the location of a submarine immediately prior to a torpedo or depth bomb attack. Due to the sensitivity of the detector, electromagnetic noise can interfere with it, so the detector is placed in P-3's fiberglass tail stinger (MAD boom), far from other electronics and ferrous metals on the aircraft.
The crew complement varies depending on the role being flown, the variant being operated, and the country that is operating the type. In U.S. Navy service, the normal crew complement was 12 until it was reduced to its current complement of 11 in the early 2000s when the in-flight ordnanceman (ORD) position was eliminated as a cost-savings measure and the ORD duties assumed by the in-flight technician (IFT). Data for U.S. Navy P-3C only.
Patrol Plane Navigator/Communicator (PPNC or NAVCOM)
NOTE: NAVCOM on P-3C only; USN P-3A and P-3B series had an NFO Navigator (TACNAV) and an enlisted Airborne Radio Operator (RO)
two enlisted Aircrew Flight Engineers (FE1 and FE2)
three enlisted Sensor Operators
two Acoustic (SS-1 and SS-2)
one enlisted In-Flight Technician (IFT)
one enlisted Aviation Ordnanceman (ORD position no longer used on USN crews; duties assumed by IFT.)
The senior of either the PPC or TACCO will be designated as the aircraft Mission Commander (MC).
Engine loiter shutdown
Once on station, one engine is often shut down (usually the No. 1 engine - the left outer engine) to conserve fuel and extend the time aloft and/or range when at low level. It is the primary candidate for loiter shutdown because it has no generator. Eliminating the exhaust from engine 1 also improves visibility from the aft observer station on the left side of the aircraft.
On occasion, both outboard engines can be shut down, weight, weather, and fuel permitting. Long deep-water, coastal or border patrol missions can last over 10 hours and may include extra crew. The record time aloft for a P-3 is 21.5 hours, undertaken by the Royal New Zealand Air Force's No. 5 Squadron in 1972.
Developed during the Cold War, the P-3's primary mission was to localize Soviet Navyballistic missile and fast attack submarines detected by undersea surveillance systems and eliminate them in the event of full-scale war. At its height, the U.S. Navy's P-3 community consisted of twenty-four active duty "Fleet" patrol squadrons home based at air stations in the states of Florida and Hawaii as well as bases which formerly had P-3 operations in Maryland, Maine, and California. There were also thirteen Naval Reserve patrol squadrons identical to their active duty "Fleet" counterparts, said Reserve "Fleet" squadrons being based in Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts (later relocated to Maine), Illinois, Tennessee, Louisiana, California and Washington. Two Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS), also called "RAG" squadrons (from the historic "Replacement Air Group" nomenclature) were located in California and Florida. The since-deactivated VP-31 in California provided P-3 training for the Pacific Fleet, while VP-30 in Florida performed the task for the Atlantic Fleet. These squadrons were also augmented by a test and evaluation squadron in Maryland, two additional test and evaluation units that were part of an air development center in Pennsylvania and a test center in California, an oceanographic development squadron in Maryland, and two active duty "special projects" units in Maine and Hawaii, the latter being slightly smaller than a typical squadron.
In Fiscal Year 1995, the U.S. Navy planned to reduce active-duty patrol squadrons from 16 to 13: seven on the East Coast, six on the West. The patrol squadrons planned to survive were VP-8, 10, 11, and 26 at NAS Brunswick, Maine, and VP-5, 16, and 45 at NAS Jacksonville, FL. The Pacific squadrons that were to be retained were VP-1, 4, 9, and 47 at BArbers' Point, HI, and 40 and VP-46 at NAS Whidbey Island, WA. Thus Patrol Squadrons 17, 23, and 24 were to be disestablished, and the remaining units were to operate nine aircraft instead of eight, augmented by VP-30 and the nine-at-the-time USNR P-3 squadrons.
Reconnaissance missions in international waters led to occasions where Soviet fighters would "bump" a P-3, either operated by the U.S. Navy or other operators such as the Royal Norwegian Air Force. On 1 April 2001, a midair collision between a United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals surveillance aircraft and a People's Liberation Army NavyJ-8II jet fighter-interceptor resulted in an international dispute between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China (PRC).
The U.S. Navy remains the largest P-3 operator, currently distributed between a single fleet replacement (i.e., "training") patrol squadron in Florida (VP-30), 12 active duty patrol squadrons distributed between bases in Florida, Washington and Hawaii, two Navy Reserve patrol squadrons in Florida and Washington, one active duty special projects patrol squadron (VPU-2) in Hawaii, and two active duty test and evaluation squadrons. One additional active duty fleet reconnaissance squadron (VQ-1) operates the EP-3 Ariessignals intelligence (SIGINT) variant at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.
In January 2011, the U.S. Navy revealed that P-3s have been used to hunt down "third generation" narco subs. This is significant because as recently as July 2009, fully submersible submarines have been used in smuggling operations. As of November 2013, the US Navy began phasing out the P-3 in favor of the newer and more advanced Boeing P-8 Poseidon.
In October 1962, P-3A aircraft flew several blockade patrols in the vicinity of Cuba. Having just recently joined the operational Fleet earlier that year, this was the first employment of the P-3 in a real world "near conflict" situation.
Beginning in 1964, forward deployed P-3 aircraft began flying a variety of missions under Operation Market Time from bases in the Philippines and Vietnam. The primary focus of these coastal patrols was to stem the supply of materials to the Viet Cong by sea, although several of these missions also became overland "feet dry" sorties. During one such mission, a small caliber artillery shell passed through a P-3 without rendering it mission incapable. The only confirmed combat loss of a P-3 also occurred during Operation Market Time. In April 1968, a U.S. Navy P-3B of VP-26 was downed by anti-aircraft fire in the Gulf of Thailand with the loss of the entire crew. Two months earlier, in February 1968, another one of VP-26's P-3B aircraft was operating in the same vicinity when it crashed with the loss of the entire crew. Originally attributed to an aircraft mishap at low altitude, later conjecture is that this aircraft may have also fallen victim to anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire from the same source as the April incident.
On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and was poised to strike Saudi Arabia. Within 48 hours of the initial invasion, U.S. Navy P-3C aircraft were among the first American forces to arrive in the area. One was a modified platform with a prototype system known as "Outlaw Hunter". Undergoing trials in the Pacific after being developed by Tiburon Systems, Inc. for NAVAIR's PMA-290 Program Office, "Outlaw Hunter" was testing a specialized over-the-horizon targeting (OTH-T) system package when it responded. Within hours of the start of the coalition air campaign, "Outlaw Hunter" detected a large number of Iraqi patrol boats and naval vessels attempting to move from Basra and Umm Qasr to Iranian waters. "Outlaw Hunter" vectored in strike elements which attacked the flotilla near Bubiyan Island destroying 11 vessels and damaging scores more. During Desert Shield, a P-3 using infrared imaging detected a ship with Iraqi markings beneath freshly-painted bogus Egyptian markings trying to avoid detection. Several days before the 7 January 1991 commencement of Operation Desert Storm, a P-3C equipped with an APS-137 Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) conducted coastal surveillance along Iraq and Kuwait to provide pre-strike reconnaissance on enemy military installations. A total of 55 of the 108 Iraqi vessels destroyed during the conflict were targeted by P-3C aircraft.
The P-3 Orion's mission expanded in the late 1990s and early 2000s to include battlespace surveillance both at sea and over land. The long range and long loiter time of the P-3 Orion have proved to be an invaluable asset during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It can instantaneously provide information about the battlespace it can see to ground troops, particularly the U.S. Marines.
Although the P-3 is a Maritime Patrol Aircraft, armament and sensor upgrades in the Anti-surface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) have made it suitable for sustained combat air support over land. In what became known as the "Decade in the Desert", Navy P-3C crews patrolled combat zones in the middle east and southwest Asia. Since the start of the current war in Afghanistan, U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft have been operating from Kandahar in that role. Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orions operated out of Minhad Air Base in the UAE from 2003 until their withdrawal in November 2012. During the period 2008-2012, the AP-3C Orions conducted overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks in support of coalition troops throughout Afghanistan.
Several U.S. Navy P-3C Orions, and two Canadian CP-140 Auroras, a variant of the Orion, have participated in maritime surveillance missions over Libyan waters in the framework of enforcement of the 2011 no-fly zone over Libya.
A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion supporting Operation Odyssey Dawn engaged the Libyan coast guard vessel Vittoria on 28 March 2011 after the vessel and eight smaller craft fired on merchant ships in the port of Misrata, Libya. The Orion fired AGM-65 Maverick missiles on Vittoria, which was subsequently beached.
A U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat escorts an Iranian P-3F Orion over the Indian Ocean - 1981
Lockheed produced the P-3F variant of the P-3 Orion, for Iran. Six examples were delivered to the former Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) in 1975 and 1976.
Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the Orions continued in service, after the IIAF was renamed the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF). They were used in the Tanker War phase of the Iran-Iraq War and were operated by one of the most successful squadrons of the IRIAF during that conflict. A total of four P-3Fs remain in service.
A Pakistan Navy P-3C Orion in Quetta, in October 2010
Three P-3C Orions, delivered to the Pakistan Navy in 1996 and 1997 were operated extensively during the Kargil conflict. After the crash of one, the type was grounded due to the loss of an entire crew; nonetheless, the aircraft were maintained in an armed state and airworthy condition throughout the escalation period of 2001 and 2002. In 2007, they were used by the navy to conduct signals intelligence, airborne and bombing operations in a Swat offensive and Operation Rah-e-Nijat. Precision and strategic bombing missions were carried out by the Orions, and in 2007, intelligence management operations were conducted against Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives.
On 22 May 2011, two out of the four Pakistani P-3Cs were destroyed in an attack on PNS Mehran, a Pakistani Naval station in Karachi. The Pakistani fleet had been readily used in overland, counter-insurgency operations. In June 2011, the U.S. agreed to replace the destroyed aircraft with two new ones, with delivery to follow later. In February 2012, the U.S. delivered two additional P-3C Orion aircraft to the Pakistan Navy.
The Spanish Air Force deployed P-3s to assist the international effort against piracy in Somalia. On 29 October 2008, a Spanish P-3 aircraft patrolling the coast of Somalia reacted to a distress call from an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden. To deter the pirates, the aircraft flew over the pirates three times as they attempted to board the tanker, dropping a smoke bomb on each pass. After the third pass, the attacking pirate boats broke off their attack. Later, on 29 March 2009, the same P-3 pursued the assailants of the German navy tanker Spessart (A1442), resulting in the capture of the pirates.
. The flight deck now has 'glass' instrumentation and navigation computer automation. The Tactical Rail (Tacrail) has been completely refitted with modern sensors, communication and data management systems.
Map with P-3 operators in red, former operators in light red.
In 2002, the RAAF received significantly upgraded AP-3C. Also known as Australian Orions, they are fitted with a variety of sensors. They include digital multi-mode radar, electronic support measures, electro-optics detectors (infrared and visual), magnetic anomaly detectors, identification friend or foe systems, and acoustic detectors. The Boeing P-8 Poseidon is gradually replacing them. The P-3 Orion celebrated 50 years of RAAF service in November 2018. P-3B sold to Portugal.
Chilean Navy - four P-3A; based at Base Aeronaval Torquemada, Concón. Three used as patrol aircraft, one used for personnel transport. Chile plans to extend their service lives past 2030 by changing the wings, modernizing the engines, and integrating the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.
The RCAF also operated 3 CP-140A Arcturus, P-3 aircraft purchased in 1991 without an anti-submarine warfare suite and used primarily for pilot training and long-range surface patrol. The last two were retired in 2011.
Hellenic Air Force - six P-3B operated jointly with the Hellenic Navy, 1 in operable condition as of 2019, 3 additional of the planes are undergoing maintenance as of 2016 which should return them to airworthy condition, the first of which was completed in May 2019.
Royal New Zealand Air Force - six P-3K2 (5 Sqn); based in RNZAF Base Auckland. Operated by 5 SQN. Five were originally delivered in 1966 as P-3Bs. Another was purchased from the RAAF in 1985. All six have been upgraded by L-3 Communications Canada and now designated as P-3K2, with the first upgraded aircraft returned to New Zealand in April 2011. The New Zealand Government announced they are to be replaced in 2023 with the purchase of 4 Boeing P-8A Poseidons. An interim upgrade contract worth NZ$36M has been awarded to Boeing to upgrade the underwater intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capability of the P-3K2, with a capability similar to that provided in the P-8.
Pakistan Naval Air Arm - ~Four P-3C; based in Naval aviation base Faisal, Karachi. Upgraded P-3C MPA and P-3B AEW models (equipped with Hawkeye 2000 AEW system) ordered in 2006, first upgraded P-3C delivered in early 2007. In June 2010, two more upgraded P-3Cs joined the Pakistan Navy with anti-ship and submarine warfare capabilities. A total of nine (9). Two aircraft were destroyed in an attack by armed militants at the Mehran Naval Airbase.
Spanish Air Force - Two P-3A HWs, four P-3B ( ex-Norway) being upgraded to P-3M, based at Morón Air Base. The Spanish AF bought five P-3B from Norway in 1989 and it was planned to upgrade all five to M standard, however, due to budgetary constraints only four are to be upgraded, the remaining aircraft being used as spares source.
Taiwan Air Force(1966-1967) - Least known of all P-3 family. Three P-3As (149669, 149673, 149678) were obtained by the CIA from the U.S. Navy under Project STSPIN in May 1963, as the replacement aircraft for CIA's own covert operation fleet of RB-69A/P2V-7U versions. Converted by Aerosystems Division of LTV at Greenville, Texas, the three P-3As were simply known as "black" P-3As under "Project Axial". Officially transferred from U.S. Navy to CIA on June/July 1964, LTV Aerosystems converted the three aircraft to be both ELINT and COMINT platform. First of three "black" P-3As arrived in Taiwan and officially transferred to ROCAF's top secret Black Bat Squadron on 22 June 1966. Armed with four Sidewinder short range AAM missiles for self-defense, the three "black" P-3A flew peripheral missions along the China coast to collect SIGINT and air samples. When the project was terminated in January 1967, all three "black" P-3As were flown to NAS Alameda, CA, for long-term storage. In September 1967, Lockheed at Burbank, converted two of the three aircraft (149669 and 149678) into the only two EP-3B examples in existence in the world, while the third aircraft (149673) was converted by Lockheed in 1969-1970 to serve as a development aircraft for various electronic programs. The two EP-3Bs known as "Bat Rack", owing to their short period of service with Taiwan's "Black Bat" Squadron, were issued to U.S. Navy's VQ-1 Squadron in 1969 and deployed to Da Nang, Vietnam. Later, the two EP-3Bs were converted to EP-3E ARIES, along with seven EP-3As. The two EP-3Es retired in the 1980s, when replaced by 12 EP-3E ARIES II versions.
Taiwan Navy - The Taiwan Navy obtained 12 P-3C aircraft under the U.S. government's Foreign Military Sales program in 2007 which were then modernized to provide an additional 15,000 flight hours. 12 P-3Cs (Ordered, with deliveries starting in 2012), with three "spare" airframes that might be converting to EP-3E standard; based in south part of the island and offshore island. In May 2014 Lockheed Martin were awarded a contract to upgrade and overhaul all 12 P-3Cs for completion by August 2015.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration - one ex-USN P-3B; based at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, used for low altitude heavy lift airborne science missions, modified to support passive microwave instruments, such as NOAA's Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer (PSR), NASA's 2-DSTAR, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) polarimetric scatterometer (POLSCAT) instruments.
United States Department of Homeland Security / Bureau of Customs and Border Protection / Office of Air and Marine - 8 P-3 LRTs (Long Range Tracker). Former USN aircraft also based at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida. Normally operate in tandem with P-3 AEW aircraft.
30 January 1963: United States Navy P-3A BuNo 149762 was lost at sea in the Atlantic Ocean, 14 crew killed.
4 July 1966: Lockheed P-3A Orion, BuNo 152172, construction number 185-5142, assigned to VP-19, Radio call sign Papa Echo Zero Five (PE-05), crashed 7 miles (11 km) northeast Battle Creek, MI. The P-3A Orion was on the return leg of a cross country training flight from NAS New York-Floyd Bennett Field, New York to NAS Moffett Field, California via NAS Glenview, Illinois; all four crew lost.
6 Feb 1968: Lockheed P-3B Orion, Registration 153440, construction number 185-5237, assigned to VP-26, crashed during an Operation Market Time combat patrol off Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, with the loss of all 12 crew MIA. Initially attributed to mechanical failure, later events suggest it may have been shot down.
1 Apr 1968: Lockheed P-3B Orion, Registration 153445, construction number 185-5241, assigned to VP-26, was shot down by surface anti-aircraft fire during an Operation Market Time combat patrol off PhuQ uoc Island, Vietnam. The AAA fire initially set an engine on fire, but during a subsequent attempt to land, the wing separated and the aircraft crashed, with the loss of all 12 crew.
11 Apr 1968: Lockheed P-3B Orion, Registration A9-296, construction number 185-5406, assigned to RAAF, crashed on runway 32L at NAS Moffett Field, California after departing the manufacturer's facility during pre-delivery acceptance trials. The left main mount (undercarriage) collapsed on landing and the aircraft ground-looped. All crew survived without serious injury, but the aircraft was completely destroyed by the resulting fire.
6 March 1969: USN P-3A BuNo 152765 tail coded RP-07 of VP-31 crashed at NAS Lemoore, California, at the end of a practice ground control approach (GCA) landing, all six crew died.
28 January 1971: Commander Donald H. Lilienthal, USN flew a P-3C Orion to a world speed record for heavyweight turboprops. Over 15-25 kilometers, he reached 501 miles per hour to break the Soviet Il-18's May 1968 record of 452 miles per hour.
26 May 1972: USN P-3A BuNo 152155 disappeared over the Pacific Ocean on a routine training mission after departing NAS Moffett Field, California, with the loss of eight crew members.
12 April 1973: A United States Navy P-3C BuNo 157332 operating from NAS Moffett Field, California collided with a Convair CV-990 (N711NA) operated by NASA during approach to runway 32L. The aircraft crashed on the Sunnyvale Municipal Golf Course, 0.5 miles (0.80 km) short of the runway, resulting in destruction of both aircraft and the death of all but one crewmember.
26 April 1978: USN P-3B BuNo 152724 from VP-23 crashed on landing approach to Lajes Field, Azores. Seven of the crew were killed and the plane sank into deep water preventing recovery to assess the cause of the crash.
22 September 1978: USN P-3B BuNo 152757 from VP-8 disintegrated over Poland, Maine on 22 September 1978. An over-pressurized fuel tank caused the port wing to separate at the outboard engine. The detached wing sheared off part of the tail; and aerodynamic forces caused the remaining engines and starboard wing to detach from the fuselage. Debris rained down near the south end of Tripp Pond shortly after 12:00. There were no survivors from the plane's 8-man crew.
26 October 1978: USN P-3C BuNo 159892 call sign coded AF 586 from VP-9 operating from NAS Adak ditched at sea after an engine fire caused by a propeller malfunction. All but two of the 15-man crew were rescued by a Soviet trawler, but three crew members died of exposure.
27 June 1979: P-3B BuNo 154596 from VP-22 operating from NAS Cubi Point Philippines, had a propeller overspeed shortly after departure. The number 4 propeller then departed the aircraft striking the number three with a subsequent fire on that engine. While attempting an overweight landing with 2 engines out, the aircraft stalled, rolled inverted and crashed in Subic Bay just past Grande Island. Four crew and one passenger were killed in the crash.
17 April 1980: USN P-3C BuNo 158213 from VP-50 while flying for a parachuting exhibition in Pago Pago, American Samoa struck overhead tram wires and crashed, killing all six crew on board.
17 May 1983: USN P-3B BuNo 152733 tail coded YB-07 from VP-1 inadvertently landed gear up during a routine dedicated field work (DFW) pilot training flight at NAS Barbers Point. No crew were injured but the aircraft was a total loss.
16 June 1983: USN P-3B BuNo 152720 tail coded YB-06 from VP-1 at NAS Barbers Point crashed into a mountain top in fog and low clouds on the Napali Coast between the Hanapu and Kalalau valleys in Kauai, Hawai'i shortly after 0400 hours, killing all 14 on board.
13 September 1987: A Royal Norwegian Air Force P-3B, tail number "602", is hit from below by a Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 of the 941st IAP V-PVO. The Su-27 flew below the P-3's starboard side, then accelerated and pulled up, clipping the #4 engine's propellers. The propeller shrapnel hit the Orion's fuselage and caused a decompression. There were no injuries and both aircraft returned safely to base.
25 September 1990: The first production model P-3C Update III, BuNo 161762, assigned to VP-31 at NAS Moffett Field, impacted the runway at an excessive rate of descent while conducting at dedicated field work sortie at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Crows Landing. Both main landing gear failed and the aircraft slid down the runway. Some crewmembers sustained minor injuries, but there were no fatalities. The aircraft was a total loss.
21 March 1991: While on a training mission west of San Diego, California, two U.S. Navy P-3C Orions, BuNos 158930 and 159325 assigned to VP-50 based at NAS Moffett Field collided in midair, killing all 27 crew on board both aircraft.
26 April 1991: AP-3C, tail number A9-754 of the Royal Australian Air Force, lost a wing leading edge and crashed into shallow water in the Cocos Island; one crewman was killed. Aircraft was cut up and used as an artificial reef. The head investigator of this incident was RAAF FLTLT Richard Hall.
16 October 1991: P-3A N924AU of Aero Union crashed into a mountain in Montana, United States killing both crew.
25 March 1995: USN P-3C BuNo 158217 assigned to VP-47 was returning from a training mission in the North Arabian Sea when it suffered catastrophic engine failure of the number 4 engine. The aircraft ditched at sea 2 miles (3.2 km) from RAFO Masirah, Oman. All 11 crew members were rescued by the Royal Omani Air Force.
20 April 2005: P-3B N926AU of Aero Union crashed while conducting practice drops of water over an area of rugged mountainous terrain located north of the Chico Airport. All three crew on board were killed.
22 May 2011: Twenty Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan militants claiming to avenge Osama Bin Laden's death destroyed two Pakistan Navy P-3C Orions during an armed attack at PNS Mehran, a heavily guarded base of the Pakistan Navy located in Karachi. The aircraft had been readily used by the Pakistani military in overland counter-insurgency surveillance operations.
15 February 2014: Three US Navy P-3C Orions were crushed "beyond repair" when their hangar, at NAF Atsugi, Japan was destroyed due to a massive snow storm.
154574-P-3B-Wings Of Freedom Aviation Museam-Adjacent to Horsham Air Guard Station(Formally NAS/JRB Willow Grove) Horsham, PA
160770 - P-3C CDU - Naval Air Museum Barbers Point, Kalaeloa Airport (former Naval Air Station Barbers Point), Hawaii. Aircraft last assigned to VP-9, but carrying 1960s era markings of VP-6 for U.S. Naval Aviation Centennial celebration in 2011.
Take-off distance to 50 ft (15 m): 5,490 ft (1,673 m)
Landing distance from 50 ft (15 m): 2,770 ft (844 m)
Hardpoints: 10 wing stations in total (3x on each wing and 2x on each wing root) and eight internal bomb bay stations with a capacity of 20,000 lb (9,100 kg),with provisions to carry combinations of:
^Perrett, Bradley, Sub-hunting, Aviation Week and Space Technology, 8 July 2013, p.27
^Pocock, Chris. The Black Bats: CIA Spy Flights Over China From Taiwan, 1951-1969. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2010. ISBN978-0-7643-3513-6.
^"Taiwan". Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin. Archived from the original on 14 November 2017. Retrieved 2017. P-3- The Taiwan Navy obtained 12 P-3C aircraft under the U.S. government's Foreign Military Sales program in 2007 which were then modernized to provide an additional 15,000 flight hours.