CONCON, Chile --- The first Chilean P-3 Orion has left Concon Air Base on its way to Canada for a major overhaul under the Albatros IV project. The aircraft will travel to Halifax, Canada, where IMP Aerospace will conduct the upgrade under a contract signed in October 2016.
Under Albatros IV, IMP will upgrade the wings and stabilizers, the engines, and the avionics on two Chilean Navy P-3s. The current Allison T56-A10 engines will be replaced with T56-A14 engines. Rockwell Collins' Flight2 integrated avionics suite of communications, navigation and surveillance equipment integrates new-generation avionics with legacy sensors, radios, autopilot and aircraft systems will also be included.
Chile's P-3 fleet have an average of 52 years of service in total, and 23 years for Chile. During their time in Chilean service, the aircraft have each exceeded 19,000 hours of flight, the maximum recommended by manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
While at one point, Chile planned to replace the P-3s with C-295 MPA's, the longer range and capability of the P-3s was seen as necessary to the Navy. Therefore, Santiago decided to keep the aircraft and upgrade them to extend their useful lives. The life extension will allow Chile to keep the P-3s operational until 2037.