Pakistani naval officials confirmed today that they have added one Lockheed P-3 Orion long-range surveillance aircraft to their aviation fleet. The aircraft was supplied to the Pakistan Navy by the US, under the Security Assistance Programme (SAP) program of the U.S. Department of Defence. A function was held at the port city of Karachi, to mark the occasion. Senior naval officials attended the function, including Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) for the Pakistan Navy.
During the function, Admiral Sandila said that the protection and surveillance of the Northern part of Arabian Sea is extremely important for the national security of Pakistan. He also added that the navy is facing fresh challenges in protecting the maritime trade and supply routes, which criss-crosses through the region. Admiral Sandila, who was the chief guest during the function, also reiterated the Navy’s commitment to take part in the anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden regions.
Pakistan had signed an agreement with the American defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin six years ago, for the delivery of 7 Orion aircrafts. The Navy received three of the aircrafts in 2010, while another two were delivered in 2011. In addition to the Orions, the Navy is also operating 7 ageing Fokker F27-200 Friendship naval surveillance aircrafts, which it had acquired during the 1980s.
The Orions are one of the most popular maritime surveillance aircrafts in the world, being used by the naval forces in a number of nations such as the US, Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. The aircrafts were first inducted in to the US Navy in 1962, and so far more than 750 units have been manufactured. The US Navy had recently decided to replace its Orion fleet with the Boeing P-8A Poseidons.