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first P-3C CUP Orion arrived at Valkenburg
First fully modernised Orion returned at Valkenburg
VALKENBURG / THE NETHERLANDS - This morning around 10:30am the first
completely modernised Lockheed P-3C Orion returned at RNLNAS Valkenburg. The
aircraft departed to the United States on 7 July 2002. There all tactical
equipment was removed from the aircraft and replaced by a completely new
When the first Orion departed to the Lockheed Martin plant at Greenville,
SC, the future for the Royal Netherlands Navy's Maritime Patrol Group
(MARPAT) looked bright. With the start of the Capability Upkeep Program
(CUP) the future for the Orion in Dutch service was secured until at least
2020. However, in June 2003, the Minister of Defence decided that the ten
Orions could be retired as early as 1 January 2004. Pushed by the Parliament
the Orions are kept on strength a year longer. MoD Henk Kamp was forced to
investigate the options for keeping a smaller, multinational, MARPAT with
reduced overhead costs and to come with a solid alternative plan for air
surveillance in support of coast guard operations both in The Netherlands
and the Dutch Antilles. The MoD's study results, which were sent to the
Parliament on 12 February, were incomplete and even partly wrong. This led
to 77 official questions, a public hearing on 21 April and a debate with the
MoD on 28 April. After the MoD threatened to resign if the Parliament did
not approve his plans, suddenly all political parties (afraid to cause a
government crisis) seemed to be "convinced". The decision to sell the Orions
and to close down RNLNAS Valkenburg was a fact.
In the meantime it became clear that all ten Orions were going to be
modified by Lockheed Martin. The CUP contract would not be disbanded. In all
publicity about the Orions and RNLNAS Valkenburg it is often believed that
all ten Orions are already modified to P-3C CUP. This is absolutely not
true. So far Lockheed Martin has delivered only one aircraft. The second and
third aircraft are currently going through the CUP in the USA. The tenth and
last aircraft is expected to return to Valkenburg in March 2006. The P-3C
Orions were ordered by the Dutch government in 1978 at a price of NLG 58
million (? 26.3 million) each. The CUP modernisation program costs an
average ? 20 million per aircraft.
With the P-3C CUP the RNLN has the most advanced maritime patrol aircraft,
which is capable of conducting reconnaissance missions both over sea and
over land. Unfortunately the MARPAT will never get the opportunity to fly
operational missions with the CUP aircraft as it is the intention of the MoD
to sell the aircraft to Germany as a replacement of the ageing Breguet
Br1150 Atlantic. Dutch crew members may only train German crews on the P-3C
CUP. For this RNLNAS Valkenburg is expected to remain open until at least
the first quarter of 2006, despite the common belief that it will close down
on 1 January 2005.
Valkenburg, 23 May 2004
Marco P.J. Borst
P-3 Orion Research Group - The Netherlands
subscribe to the P-3 Orion e-mail group:
"The reward of a job well done is to have done it."
Shame isn't it that in under a year they'll all be gone and the base closed.
The aircraft are being given away to Germany, the base turned into cheap
Valkenburg will close. As part of the giveaway Dutch crews will provide
training in Germany under the smokescreen of a dual command unit operated
jointly by the Dutch and German navies.
And so ends another phase in preparing the country for foreign occupation.
Next phase will see the drawdown of the airfarce (already down to under 100
aircraft, about half of which are semi-permanently stationed abroad on NATO
and UN assignments) and further reduction in pilot training (already 25%
under NATO minimums).
The army too is being gutted, loosing its complete artillery and tank force
over the next few years, and having the infantry loose most of its armoured
Half the combat helicopter force will also be scrapped starting next year.
All operations will be consolidated at just 3 bases, one of them colocated
with a civilian airport. This makes the force neatly capable of a first
strike destruction, as these bases will lack the hardened shelter capability
to house the aircraft stationed there (without doubt planned that way).
We're now already worse off than we were in May 1940, and things are going
from bad to worse.
Now it just remains to be seen whether it's the Germans or the French to
take the logical step of invasion, both have done it before...
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