Pakistan Navy to replace Orion MPA with Brazilian jetliner

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Pakistan Navy confirms that Lineage 1000E is the platform for its new LRMPA, Quwa and Defense News announced.

Outgoing naval chief Adm. Adm. Zafar Mahmood Abbasi announced Oct. 6 that the Navy would replace its P-3C Orion fleet with 10 converted commercial jets, the first of which has been ordered. However, he did not identify the type.

The Ministry of Defence Production, which handles acquisition, did not return requests for comment regarding the conversion and possible partners.

With only a single aircraft ordered thus far, the program is in its early stages. When converted for Pakistani service, the aircraft will be called Sea Sultan.

It is unclear if the aircraft is being acquired directly from the manufacturer or another party. Embraer did not respond to requests for comment.

“[It is a] significant undertaking, and risk management is going to be important,” he said, adding that it’s likely Embraer will be asked to help with the conversion, “otherwise the challenges just get all the greater.”

The PN had announced its interest in a new jet powered LRMPA in September 2018. The PN stated that it was open to acquiring the system “from any source, including the U.S.”[1] However, by March 2020, the PN opted to take ownership of the LRMPA program by pursuing it as an original project.

The first step to this project was releasing a tender for one twin-engine jet aircraft with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 120,000 lbs to 140,000 lbs and ferry range of 4,000+ nautical miles. The PN had also added that the aircraft’s “major components” – such as engines, flight control system, landing gears, and other critical inputs – must be free of ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) coverage.

For the second step, the outgoing CNS revealed that the PN will template the new LRMPA’s onboard suite with that of the RAS-72 Sea Eagle. The RAS-72 is a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) based on the ATR-72 – the PN contracted the conversion work to Rheinland Air Service (RAS) GmbH in Germany in 2016.

The PN did not disclose a timeline for when the LRMPAs will arrive, but the previous CNS stated that the PN issued the contract for the first unit. Using the RAS-72 as a reference point, the PN could induct its first LRMPA in 2022 or 2023. However, the actual timeline would also depend on the PN’s design specifications, the project’s technical complications, funding, and political factors.

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