US Companies Plan Military Orion Aircrew Training with ex-RAAF AP-3Cs

Former RAAF AP-3C Orion N665BD (ex-A9-665), with N662JD (ex-A9-662) behind, both now acquired by MHD Rockland Services, at RAAF Base Edinburgh on December 11, prior to departing for Pago Pago on delivery to their new owner in the US. N665BD left the next day, followed by N662JD on December 14. MHD Rockland

TWO US-based companies are planning to jointly offer training of military aircrew on the P-3 Orion using a fleet of five newly-acquired ex-Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3Cs.  Later this year, ESG Aerosystems Inc, in partnership with MHD Rockland Services Inc, intend to begin offering custom-tailored P-3 live flight training in the greater Jacksonville area of Florida.  The programme will provide this training on the AP-3Cs for pilots and flight engineers, as well as making extensive use of simulator training and providing balanced academic courses, plus the opportunity to train in tactical flying on the AP-3Cs.  Recurrency training to maintain combat readiness will also be offered.  The project will use experienced P-3 flight instructors and flight engineer instructors.

The final round of P-3 flight crew training with the US Navy’s Patrol Squadron 30 (VP-30) ‘Pro’s Nest’ at Naval Air Station Jacksonville began in August 2018, prior to full transition to the P-8A Poseidon.  In addition to US crews, VP-30 has provided training for Orion pilots from around the world, but once the final course is completed there will no further US Navy P-3 training available for either US or overseas crews.  This is where the new project plans to step in, as many navies around the world will continue to fly their Orion fleets, mostly well into the 2030s.  ESG and MHD intend to provide an extensive service package to match the individual needs and requirements of the worldwide P-3 community.

The five ex-RAAF AP-3C Orions acquired for the programme are registered to MHD Rockland Services Inc and comprise the following:

A9-656 c/n 5778, registered N656T on October 5, 2018.

A9-661 c/n 5787, registered N661MK on December 11, 2018.

A9-662 c/n 5789, registered N662JD on December 11, 2018.

A9-664 c/n 5793, registered N664SD on November 14, 2018.

A9-665 (c/n 5795, registered N665BD on December 7, 2018.

The first of these to be delivered was N656T/A9-656, which left Australia when it departed from Avalon Airport, Victoria, on October 23, 2018.  Next to go was N664SD/A9-664, which left Avalon on November 14.  This was followed by N665BD/A9-665, which departed from RAAF Base Edinburgh on December 12.  The final pair, N661MK/A9-661 and N662JD/A9-662, both left Edinburgh on December 14.  All five were flown to Keystone Heights Airport/Keystone Air Park in northeastern Florida, where the final three had all arrived together on December 17.