Argentine Naval Aviation Command is struggling to keep their P-3B fleet operational, one of two serviceable aircraft has been sent for Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) to the Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) and the other continues to have little flying hours based on limitations of its airframe.
The 50 year old P-3B TACNAVMOD “SuperBee”, 6-P-56, had been inspected by a Lockheed Martin commission which advised for spar replacements. A bid was placed and OGMA was selected to perform these works in FAdeA in late 2015. As sources state, OGMA is now in conflict with Lockheed Martin and in jeopardy to lose its certification if it has not already. This comes in conjunction with a budget reduction which left the aircraft unfinished at approximately 72% of completion, as Full Aviacion recently reported.
The other available aircraft, 6-P-53, had its main fitting replaced and is flying upon approved extensions of its required maintenance, accumulating minor failures. When the submarine ARA San Juan was sunk, Argentina depended on a modified P-3 from NASA and could not make proper use of its P-3 fleet. The official word is that negotiations are in place with OGMA, although no work has been done on 6-P-56 for over a year. Government sources have stated that another plan is in place as well to receive surplus P-3C, recently decommissioned or still in service from the U.S. Navy.
This is no news to the fact that these negotiations have happened for years and with each defense ministry of the last decade, and yet are far from being a long term solution taking in consideration that these are much worm aircraft and a future marine patrol aircraft will take a strong commitment from the argentine government since are not much options in the market and they are all costly.