The Hellenic Navy took a first step toward reconstituting its maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) capability on May 17 when it received its first upgraded Lockheed Martin P-3B Orion back from Hellenic Aerospace Industries (HAI).
This first aircraft represents an initial step in a modernization and midlife upgrade (MLU) program that will see a total of five Hellenic Navy P-3B Orions revitalized with a service life extension of 15,000 flight hours (equal to about 20 years of normal service) under a $260 million firm-fixed-price contract awarded to Lockheed Martin on November 6, 2017. Work will run through 2023.
Congratulation to the #HellenicNavy on their latest P-3B delivery! We’re excited to bring a new life to the Orion that will support patrol missions and ensure safety in Greece. https://t.co/Iz6DydVkNr pic.twitter.com/HWIEffIBpQ
— Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin) May 17, 2019
Once redelivered to the Hellenic Navy, the P-3Bs will serve with the reactivated 353 Maritime Patrol Squadron.
The Greek fleet of P-3Bs are derived from ex-U.S. Navy stocks and were delivered in 1995 and 1996. Following delivery, the aircraft went without modernization work while in operational service with the Hellenic Armed Forces.
In December 2009, with the P-3Bs’ service lives exhausted, the entire inventory was placed in storage at Elefsis air base, and 353 Maritime Cooperation Squadron (operated jointly by the Hellenic Air Force and Navy) formally ceased operations.
— Kathimerini English Edition (@ekathimerini) May 18, 2019
This naturally left a gap in maritime patrol capabilities– a crucial aspect of security for a country whose territory mostly borders the sea. The return to service of its P-3Bs allows Greece to revive its capability while providing a short- and medium-term solution well into the next decade.