Spanish Air Force temporarily loses its maritime patrol capacity
MADRID ($1=0.94 Euros) — The Spanish Air Force is temporarily losing its maritime patrol capability. This comes after Madrid officially retired and decommissioned the P-3 Orion. It is a four-engined, turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.
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The last aircraft belonged to the Spanish Air Force’s 22nd Squadron of the 11th Wing at Morón de la Frontera Air Base in Seville. The aircraft has a rich history and served Spain for almost 50 years. Spain owned a total of six units of this aircraft in various modifications. Spain wanted the six to be upgraded to the M version. However, budget cuts allowed Madrid to invest only in upgrading four aircraft. Otherwise, Spain possessed two versions A aircraft and four version B aircraft.
The P-3 Orion is an American production of the Lockheed Martin company. It was designed in the 1950s, and in 1959 it made its first flight. The aircraft is primarily used to detect submarines. It did this thanks to a distinctive tail stinger that detected magnetic anomalies on submarines. In addition to anti-submarine operations, the P-3 Orion is often used for maritime patrol, reconnaissance, and anti-surface warfare.
The last Spanish P-3 Orion, which was retired this Saturday, December 17th, completed its last mission one year ago – on January 1st, 2022. This aircraft fought piracy in the Horn of Africa for nearly 14 years.
Spain will replace the functions of the P-3 Orion with the delivery of new C295 MPA aircraft developed by Airbus. However, this will not happen immediately, which means that the Spanish Air Force temporarily loses its maritime patrol capability. However, this period will prove to be long, as Airbus and the Ministry of Defense of Spain have not yet signed the memorandum between themselves. Otherwise, the Spaniards managed in recent months to specify exactly what the requirements of the Air Force are so that Airbus can produce a plane according to them.
According to Airbus, the C-295 will be equipped with an advanced mission system that includes the latest version of the FITS tactical system, as well as sensors and weapons to conduct anti-submarine warfare [ASW] missions.
The Department of Defense includes in next year’s budget breakdown a program to purchase four C-295 MPA/ASWs. Specifically, the department will allocate 170 million euros next year to this project – the total amount to be paid between 2023 and 2028 amounts to 580 million euros.
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