P-3C Orion / EP-3E ARIES II

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Product Type:

P-3C Orion: ASW, ASuW, and ISR Aircraft
EP-3E: Signals Intelligence Aircraft (SIGINT)

Using Service (US):


Program Status:

No more new aircraft will be procured.
Focus is on upgrades and sustainment.

Prime Contractor:

Lockheed Martin Corporation

The P-3C Orion

About the P-3C/EP-3E:

The Lockheed P-3C Orion and EP-3E ARIES II are long-range maritime surveillance aircraft. Both aircraft are powered by four Rolls-Royce Allison T56-A-14 turboprop engines with 4,600 shp each. The P-3 has been the U.S. Navy's frontline, land-based maritime patrol aircraft since the 1960s.

The P-3C Orion, first delivered in 1969, performs Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) in support of battle group and littoral operations. The P-3C Orion will eventually be replaced by the Boeing P-8A Poseidon Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft and the MQ-4C Triton BAMS UAV. The P-3C is equipped with a Raytheon AN/APS-137 multi-mission surveillance radar. Other systems onboard include the Lockheed Martin AN/ALQ-78 airborne electronic surveillance receiver, L-3 Communications MX-15 surveillance and targeting turret aka AN/ASX-6, AN/ARC-230 Airborne HF Radio, AN/USQ-130 Data Link, AN/ASW-60 Autopilot, AN/ASQ-81 Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) system (for submarine detection), AN/ASA-65 magnetic compensator, BAE Systems AN/APX-118 IFF transponder, ITT Exelis AN/ALR-95 Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system, AN/ALR-66 Radar Warning Receiver, Alliant Techsystems AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning System, and the AN/ARR-72 sonobuoy receiving system and AN/ARR-78 sonobuoy communication link.

During the 1990s, twelve P-3C Orion aircraft were converted to the EP-3E ARIES II configuration to replace older ARIES I aircraft. The EP-3E ARIES II (Airborne Reconnaissance Integrated Electronic System II) is the Navy's only land-based signals intelligence (SIGINT) reconnaissance aircraft. The 11 aircraft in the Navy's inventory are based on the P-3C Orion airframe and provide fleet and theater commanders worldwide with near real-time tactical SIGINT. With sensitive receivers and high-gain dish antennas, the EP-3E exploits a wide range of electronic emissions from deep within targeted territory. The last EP-3E ARIES II aircraft was delivered in 1997. The replacement aircraft for the EP-3E is the MQ-4C Triton BAMS UAV.

U.S. Navy P-3Cs and EP-3Es have recently been heavily modified as part of a Lockheed Martin Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) program to ensure uninterrupted P-3/EP-3 operations for an additional 20–25 years or 15,000 flight hours. The MLU Program replaced the aircraft's outer wings, the center wing lower section, the horizontal stabilizers, and the horizontal stabilizer leading edges.


The P-3C carries a mixed payload of weapons in eight internal bomb bay stations and on ten external under-wing hardpoints with a maximum capacity of 20,000 pounds of mixed ordnance. The aircraft carries AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-84E SLAM, AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER; AGM-65 Maverick missiles; and Mk 46/50/54 torpedoes. The EP-3E carries no ordnance.


The P-3C Orion performs Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW); Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW); and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The EP-3E is a Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) reconnaissance aircraft and its mission is to detect and track enemy radars and communication systems.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - P-3 / EP-3 DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Lockheed Martin Corp.

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