AP-3C Orion

The AP-3C Orion is an extremely versatile aircraft, capable of:

  • land and maritime surveillance
  • anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare
  • naval fleet support
  • search and rescue operations.

The AP-3C is fitted with a variety of sensors, including:

  • digital multi-mode radar
  • electronic support measures
  • electro-optic high definition camera (infra-red and visual)
  • magnetic anomaly detectors
  • friend or foe identification systems
  • acoustic detectors.

Based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, the AP-3C Orion ceased 10 years of operational service in in 2012, and is in the process of a graduated draw down to retirement. The final aircraft is planned for withdrawal in 2023.

The Orion aircraft first entered military service in 1968 as the P-3B model. The P-3C variant was introduced in 1978, and underwent several significant upgrades before it became the current AP-3C Orion, which was introduced into service in 2002.

The AP-3C will be replaced by the P-8A Poseidon and MQ-4C Triton to perform the vital functions of long range maritime patrol.


Manufacturer Lockheed Martin
  • Maritime surveillance
  • Anti-submarine warfare
  • Pilot 
  • Co-pilot
  • Two flight engineers
  • Tactical commander
  • Navigator/communication officer
  • Sensor employment manager
  • Up to six airborne electronic analysts
Length 35.6m
Height 10.44m
Wingspan 30.8m
Weight 61,200kg
Engines Four Allison T56-A-14 (4600 shaft horsepower each)
Ceiling 35,000 feet
Max speed
  • 750km/h (405 knots) maximum 
  • 650km/h cruise (350 knots) at 26,000 feet 
  • 370km/h (200 knots) loiter
  • Sonobuoys
  • Maritime marker devices
  • Air-sea rescue kit
  • Survival air heliboxes
  • Self protection measures
  • Mk 46 lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes
  • AGM-84 harpoon anti-ship missiles