The US Navy’s P-3C “Orion” is on its final deployment. This four engine turboprop aircraft first made its flight in 1959 and entered service with the United States in 1962. Originally designed to replace the P-2, Lockheed Martin won the contract to build the P-3. The P-3 is based off of the Lockheed L-188 Electra, which at the time had not even flown yet when the P-3 was developed. The P-3 has served in Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, and the fight against the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. The P3 has been involved in countless SAR operations, intelligence and surveillance operations also.
At the end of March, Patrol Squadron 40 known as the “fighting Marlins” deployed from their base in Whidbey Island, Washington to Bahrain’s Sheik Isa Air Base and Okinawa’s Kaden Air Base for their Sundown deployment.
“We intend to honor the platform’s final deployment by living the legacy of all those that have gone before us and continuing to fight to the finish," Cmdr. Patrick O’Reilly, VP-40’s commanding officer, told Whidbey told Local Whidney News Paper.
The Fighting Marlins will continue their current mission following the conclusion of their deployment to the Navy’s 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations, but will do so using advanced P-8.
With the Squadron being the last active duty service to use the P-3s, two reservist units will still operate the P-3 until 2023 which will mean the P-3 has served more then 60 years of operations.
While the P-3 leaves Military service, it finds it’s new life in the civilian market as a fire bomber as well as surveillance aircraft for the US Boarder Patrol, and research aircraft for NOAA