LISBON --- The Portuguese Air Force has taken delivery of the first of five upgraded P-3C Orions. The first two upgrades were performed by Lockheed Martin Tactical Systems under a EUR99 million contract awarded by the MoD's procurement agency (DGAED) in January 2008. The remaining three are being upgraded by the Portuguese General Offices of Aeronautical Material [OGMA]. All five should be delivered to the Air Force by 2012.
The five P-3C Orions were purchased from the Royal Netherlands Navy in February 2005 for EUR200 million. Of that total, EUR80 million was for the outright purchase, while the remaining EUR120 million was invested in their modernization.
They are to be used in the maritime surveillance role by the Esquadra 601 Maritime Patrol at Beja Air Base No. 11.
Their entry into service will allow Portugal to phase out its six aging P-3P aircraft purchased from the Australian Air Force in 1985 and brought into operation in 1988. However, only one of the new P-3Cs is expected to become operational prior to March 2011.