Two old P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft, after being grounded for five years, have been reactivated for Pakistan’s terror war as a roll out ceremony was held Tuesday in southern Pakistan’s naval air base, according to a statement released by Pakistan Navy.
Addressing the ceremony attended by U.S. diplomats and engineers from the aircraft manufacturers Lockheed Martin and OGMA, Pakistani Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the maritime component of the U.S.-led counter terrorism coalition in the region “Operation Enduring Freedom” which was launched in late 2001.
“Re-activated P-3Cs would contribute significantly to this end, besides PN (Pakistan Navy) ships which already make an important part of Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan,” he said, reiterating Pakistan Navy’s pledge to continue playing an active role in the global war on terrorism, according to the statement.
Extending his gratitude to the U.S. government for its generous support in re-activation and operationalisation of the aircraft, the Pakistani navy chief hoped that it would bring a major transformation in Pakistan’s naval air arm in terms of assets and capability.
P-3C Orion is a four engine, highly maneuverable, all weather aircraft primarily designed for reconnaissance, anti-submarine and anti-surface vessel operations. Being 116 feet long and with a maximum speed of 410 km, P-3C Orion is one of the fastest turbo prop aircraft and most widely used Long Range Maritime Patrol ( LRMP) aircraft in the world.
The two P-3C aircraft were manufactured in 1990 at Lockheed’s plant in California, and with the overhaul of both the aircraft becoming due, they were grounded for a period of 5 years, said the statement.
Later a contract to re-activate the two P3C grounded aircraft was signed between Lockheed and U.S Navy in January 2005 and maintenance work on both the aircraft was undertaken concurrently by Lockheed and Pakistan Navy personnel and technicians from OGMA, it said.
Local reports in September 2005 quoting officials said that Pakistan Navy had acquired free of cost eight P-3C Orion reconnaissance aircraft worth one billion U.S. dollars from the United States and the delivery of the aircraft would be made in phases in and after 2006.