GREENVILLE, S.C. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) announced May 17 the completion of its 13th P-3 Orion aircraft overhaul.
The Service Life Extension Plan (SLEP) overhaul began immediately following a 2006 detailed analysis of the aging history of the P-3 fleet. The results of the analysis indicated the Long-Range Tracker (LRT) had less than eight years of remaining service life and the Airborne Early Warning had less than three years. SLEP 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 for this Jacksonville, Florida-based aircraft.
In addition to the SLEP, this P-3 LRT aircraft underwent extensive modifications after it was retrieved from desert storage just a few short years ago. The former U.S. Navy systems were replaced with AMO’s state of the art law enforcement configuration.
“AMO has provided a new lease on life for this capable aircraft,” said Trevor Blow, director of the P-3 program management office. “The P-3 Long-Range Tracker is in high demand with our AMO operators and various mission partners. This latest aircraft will be in service for years to come.”
One additional aircraft will be overhauled before the SLEP program is finished, which is scheduled for fiscal year 2016.
The P-3s’ specialized detection capabilities allow highly trained crews to identify emerging threats well beyond the land borders of the United States. By providing surveillance of known air, land, and maritime smuggling routes in an area that is almost 14 times the size of the continental United States, P-3 aircrews detect, monitor, and disrupt smuggling activities before they reach shore.
AMO P-3s have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with the Joint Interagency Task Force South. P-3 aircrews patrol a 42 million-square-mile area that includes the Source and Transit Zone, more than 41 nations, the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and seaboard approaches to the United States.
In fiscal year 2015, AMO’s aircrews contributed to 198 seizure, disruption, or interdiction events in the transit zone, resulting in the interdiction of 206,500 pounds of cocaine.