This variant of the P-3, the NP-3D, only recently seen, carries an airborne phased array radar in the extension just forward of the vertical stabilizer.
Because the "Billboard" phased array radar cannot see to the front or the rear of the aircraft, this installation is clearly intended to be used in a cooperative operation where other aircraft and radars form an interdiction line, and the threat is known to come from the direction the phased array is directed towards.
Typical range missions include radar/visual safety surveillance, telemetry data collection and retransmissions, high resolution optical collections, and general fleet support. These particular Orions have upgraded engines, the more powerful Allison T56-1-14, which gives them an incredible mission endurance of 12 hours.
This photo is of the Orion P-3 sub chaser, in Navy markings.
Another photo is of the Orion P-3 sub chaser, although in the above photo, the aircraft has been fitted with an experimental dome radar similar to those found on the AWACS aircraft.
Another photo of the P-3 firing a missile.
The P-3 with missiles.
The P-3 with ASW weapons.
The P-3 is a dedicated sub chaser, or ASW aircraft. The extension on the tail houses part of the Magnetic Anomaly Detector, or MAD, a system that detects submerged submarines by local fluctuations of the Earth's magnetic field caused by the presence of the submarine's metal hull.
The normal P-3 has munitions racks for Harpoon missiles and anti-submarine torpedos. For training purposes, special torpedoes are used which close to within a set distance of the submarine, then turn aside, and float to the surface for recovery. It beats the hell out of a Nintendo set for realism!
The P-3 also uses sonobouys to locate submarines. These are dropped in the water, and listen for the submarines noise, radioing the results back to the operator on the aircraft. Some sonobouys will deploy sonar transducers on long cables to penetrate the thermocline, a boundary between two temperature zones that often blocks sound. Some sonobouys contain active sonar systems. Those used in training, like the torpedos, are recoverable.
U.S. Navy P-3 Orion NAVY FACT FILE P-3C Orion MISSION: Detect, classify, localize, track and destroy enemy high performance submarines, and perform surface surveillance. COMMENTARY: The P-3C is a land-based, long range anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft. It has advanced submarine detection sensors such as the directional frequency and ranging (DIFAR) sonobouys and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment. The avionics system is integrated by a general purpose digital computer that supports all of the tactical displays, monitors and automatically launches ordnance, while providing flight information to the pilots. In addition, the system coordinates navigation information and accepts sensor data inputs for tactical display and storage. The P-3C can carry a mixed payload of weapons internally and on wing pylons. CHARACTERISTICS (P-3C) Length: 116 feet 3 inches Wing Span: 99 feet 7 inches Height: 37 feet 1 inch Weight: Max gross take-off: 142,000 pounds; Empty: 67,486 pounds Speed: 324 knots Ceiling: 30,000 feet Range: Max mission radius: 2,390 nautical miles; for 3 hours on station at 1,500 feet; 1,346 nautical miles Propulsion: Four Allison T-56-A-14 turboprop engines (4,910 shaft horsepower each) Crew: 10 Armament: Mk-46 torpedoes; Bullpup air-to-ground missiles; Harpoon (AGM-84) cruise missile; sonobouys Contractor: Lockheed-California Company SOURCE: Public Affairs Office; Naval Air Systems Command (AIR 07D2); Washington, DC 20361-0701; (202) 746-3791 From: HTTP://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/aircraft/air-p3.html P-3C Orion Description: Lockheed four-engine propeller aircraft used as a submarine hunter and for surface surveillance. Features: The P-3C is a land-based, long range anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft. It has advanced submarine detection sensors such as directional frequency and ranging (DIFAR) sonobuoys and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment. The avionics system is integrated by a general purpose digital computer that supports all of the tactical displays, monitors and automatically launches ordnance and provides flight information to the pilots. In addition, the system coordinates navigation information and accepts sensor data inputs for tactical display and storage. The P-3C can carry a mixed payload of weapons internally and on wing pylons. Background: In February 1959, the Navy awarded Lockheed a contract to develop a replacement for the aging P-2 Neptune. The P-3V Orion entered the inventory in July 1962, and over 30 years later it remains the Navy's sole land-based antisubmarine warfare aircraft. It has gone through one designation change (P-3V to P-3) and three major models: P-3A, P-3B, and P-3C, the latter being the only one now in active service. The last Navy P-3 came off the production line at the Lockheed plant in April 1990. Point of Contact: Public Affairs Office Naval Air Systems Command (AIR 07D2) Washington, DC 20361-0701 (703) 604-2822 General Characteristics Primary Function: Antisubmarine warfare(ASW)/Antisurface warfare (ASUW) Contractor: Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Company Unit Cost: $36 million (FY 1987) Propulsion: Four Allison T-56-A-14 turboprop engines (4,600 shaft horsepower each) Length: 116 feet 8 inches (35.56 meters) Wingspan: 99 feet 7 inches (29.9 meters) Height: 33 feet 8 inches (10.26 meters) Weight: Max gross take-off: 139,760 pounds (62,892 kg) Speed: maximum - 405 knots (466 mph, 745 kmph); cruise - 350 knots (403 mph, 644 kmph) Ceiling: 30,000 feet (9,000 meters) Range:Typical mission: 10-12 hours duration; Maximum endurance: 14 hours Crew: 12 Armament: Harpoon (AGM-84) cruise missile; Maverick (AGM 65) air-to-ground missiles, MK-46 torpedoes, depth charges, sonobuoys; and mines up to around 20,000 pounds (9 metric tons) internal and external loads Date Deployed: First flight, November 1959; Operational, P-3A August 1962 and P-3C August 1969
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