L-3 To Begin
Upgrading The Navy’s EP-3E Aircraft Avionics Suite
By Daniel Baxter
April 16, 2011 - L-3 Communications announced that its
Platform Integration division has been approved to begin
low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the U.S. Navy’s
EP-3E Spiral 3-configured aircraft, featuring an
upgraded intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
(ISR) mission avionics suite. Under the LRIP program,
L-3 will manufacture and install this new capability on
three EP-3E aircraft.
The Lockheed EP-3 is the reconnaissance version of the
P-3 Orion, operated by the United States Navy. A total
of 12 P-3C aircraft were converted to replace older
versions of the aircraft, which had been converted in
the late 1960s and early 1970s. The aircraft are known
by the acronym ARIES, or "Airborne Reconnaissance
Integrated Electronic System".
The squadrons that flew the EP-3E also flew the Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star from 1962 to 1974 and the Douglas EA-3B Skywarrior from 1960 to 1991. There are 11 EP-3Es in the Navy's inventory, the last of which was delivered in 1997.
successful completion of developmental testing using the
L-3-modified prototype EP-3E Spiral 3-configured aircraft
provided the basis for the Navy’s LRIP decision. The operational
test phase of this project is currently underway, after which a
full-rate production decision will be made regarding the
modifications of the remaining aircraft in the EP-3E fleet to
the Spiral 3 configuration.
Spiral 3 program continues to demonstrate the importance of
using proven and validated technology insertion to stay ahead of
threats,” said Nick Farah, acting president of L-3 Platform
Integration. “This approach ensures the high-demand EP-3E fleet
can meet emerging operational needs using innovative
network-centric technology that is adaptable to other
As part of
the Spiral 3 modification, L-3 will install state-of-the-art
communications intelligence (COMINT) equipment, replacing aging
and obsolete sensors and increasing the aircraft’s networking
capabilities. These modifications improve onboard data analysis
and provide real-time tactical intelligence dissemination.
design of the Spiral 3 improvements in late 2007, delivering the
prototype used for testing in 2010.
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