The last active duty P-3C Orion departed Naval Air Station Whidbey Island on March 29. On March 25th, VP-40’s first P-3C Orion aircraft departed NAS Whidbey to mark the beginning of the last P-3C squadron to deploy in support of US interests worldwide.
After finishing a 12-month inter-deployment readiness cycle at NAS Whidbey, they departed across different countries and continents within the US 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.
Patrol Squadron 40 is the last active duty P-3C squadron. VP-40 has been flying the P-3C aircraft since 1975 and have taken the platform all over the world in support of multiple exercises and operations.
While VP-40 is the last active duty squadron to fly P-3s, there will still be P-3s on Whidbey Island. The Naval Reserve squadron, VP-69, is not scheduled to transition away from the P-3C during 2019, but VP-40 sun-downs the P-3C with this final deployment. VQ-1 will also continue to fly E-P3s for a few more years.
The Navy introduced the P-3A, originally known as the P3V-1, in 1962. The P-3C model began entering service in 1969 and subsequently went through a number of major upgrade programs. VP-40 first began flying the Orion in 1967, transitioning at the time from the SP-5B Marlin flying boat.
It has been utilized for decades in anti-submarine warfare, searches and rescue, drug interdiction and information, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
VP-40’s SP-5Bs had already been flying combat operations off the coast of Vietnam and its P-3s continued serving in that theatre in the 1970s.
Some of unit’s Orions also took part in the search for survivors from a Navy EC-121M Warning Star intelligence gathering aircraft that North Korean fighter jets shot down in 1969.
The squadron also supported the search and rescue effort after Soviet fighter jets shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007 in 1983. Eight years later, they supported Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf region, flying marathon missions from Diego Garcia thousands of miles away in the Indian Ocean.
Since then, the squadron’s P-3Cs have flown various anti-submarine, search and rescue, counter-drug, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. VP-40 has also taken part in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, including ISR sorties employing aircraft equipped with Raytheon’s highly capable AN/APS-149 Littoral Surveillance Radar System (LSRS).