Posted by John McHale
PATUXENT RIVER, Md., 13 Jan. 2011. The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) delivered to the fleet ten newly configured P-3 Orions installed with an upgraded acoustic system, called the Acoustic Receiver Technology Refresh (ARTR). Acoustic systems with ARTR are a vital component of the P-3C mission systems, enhancing the ability to receive and analyze sonobuoy data; a primary function of the P-3C mission.
ARTR improved performance over the existing P-3C acoustic system was demonstrated during several recent exercises with a tenfold increase in system operating reliability. This latest upgrade continues the process of bridging the gap in technology between the Orion and the P-8A Poseidon and becomes the catalyst for commonalities among fleet aircraft.
Newly installed computer hardware and software on-board the P-3C Orion will save the U.S. Navy money while making the aging aircraft a better submarine hunter, Navy officials say.
The new system will enable one person to lead the acoustic system program for the P-3C and the P-8A. This change means acoustic testing on the P-3C helps mitigate risk for the P-8A. Other benefits include common signal processing code, common hardware, and the opportunity to develop the system once for both aircraft. By combining resources and providing an upgrade to the P-3C which will be used in the P-8A, the fleet could see long term efficiencies in training and greater financial benefits overall.
"As we look ahead to the future, our goal is to be smart about how we approach growth of the MPRA fleet. If we enhance the P-3C now with a similar system used in the P-8A, it's a win-win for the fleet," says Capt. Mike Moran, program manager for PMA 290. "Ultimately, we want a program that is more efficient and more cost effective than ever before and that’s what we strive for everyday."
ARTR is the first of two steps that will help bring mission systems on the Orion up to par with the new Poseidon. NAVAIR plans to deliver 74 mission-ready Orions installed with ARTR by 2012. During the next two years, P-3 acoustic system upgrades will be aimed at improving system maintainability and digital sonobuoy monitoring capability, increasing system architecture openness, and growth of multi-static sensor processing capability. After the initial upgrades to the Orion, both the P-3C and the P-8A will undergo the second phase of system upgrades called the Acoustic Processor Technology Refresh (APTR). APTR will enable both maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft to operate using a similar set of acoustic software by 2014.
The acoustic program provides and improves anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability required to neutralize enemy submarine threats. It establishes a common, but not identical, configuration of processors, recorders and receivers.
Additional technology currently being installed in the Orions, and keeping them relevant for years to come, includes C4 (command, control, communications, and computers) for anti-submarine warfare (ASW). The Navy is currently installing the first P-3C with C4 for ASW, a computer system allowing for broader network capabilities to support the ASW mission. Specifically, the system includes LINK-16, which provides enhanced situational awareness and interoperability with U.S. Navy surface fleet, other military services, and NATO forces; and an international maritime satellite (INMARSAT), that provides encrypted broadband services for the fleet. These critical components will provide enhanced communications, resulting in stronger mission capabilities for current P-3C operators, and more seamless transitioning to the P-8A, NAVAIR officials say.