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8th P-3 Aircraft Receives Mid-Life Upgrade

Release Date: 
July 24, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today announced the completion of its 8th P-3 Orion aircraft overhaul.

The Service Life Extension Program provides new wings and tail for each aircraft and completely strips down the aircraft to its bare metal for an inspection. The final step in the process is a new paint job.

"These are the hardest working P-3s in the world," said CBP Flight Engineer Chris Friday, who has more than 30 years' experience with P-3 aircraft. "With new wings and refurbished engines, we have a new lease on the life of one of the most reliable and effective aircraft in the fleet."

With the overhaul of the Jacksonville, Fla., based P-3 aircraft, the program completed its fifth consecutive delivery ahead of schedule. Four additional aircraft will be overhauled before the program is finished, which is on track for Fiscal Year 2016. With this early delivery, CBP saves more than $11.6 million and the National Air Security Operations Centers have since deployed the aircraft in support of Joint Interagency Task Force - South.

CBP Office of Air and Marine (OAM) P-3s have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with the Joint Interagency Task Force - South (JIATFS). The P-3s patrol in a six million square mile area of the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, known as the Source and Transit Zone, in search of drugs that are in transit towards U.S. shores.

The P-3s' distinctive detection capabilities allow highly-trained crews to identify emerging threats well beyond the land borders of the U.S. By providing surveillance of known air, land, and maritime smuggling routes in an area that is twice the size of the continental U.S.; the P-3s detect, monitor and disrupt smuggling activities before they reach shore.

In Fiscal Year 2012, CBP's P-3 program, operating out of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Fla., flew more than 5,500 hours. This resulted in the seizure or disruption of more than 117,000 pounds of cocaine, worth $8.76 billion. The P-3 program contributed to the seizure or disruption of nearly $1.3 million worth of drugs for every flight hour in FY 2012.