NAVAIR

Upgraded EP-3 aircraft goes to full rate production

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Jul 26, 2006

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By Renee Hatcher

PMA-290 Public Affairs

The Program Executive Office for Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programs granted full rate production approval June 29 for the EP-3E Joint Airborne Signals Intelligence Architecture Modernization Common Configuration (JCC) Program spiral one aircraft.

The Navy’s Operational Test and Evaluation Force performed the operational evaluation (OPEVAL) of the spiral one aircraft and reported June 26 that it was “operationally effective and suitable”. The EP-3 team is fielding this aircraft two months ahead of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations targeted initial operating capability (IOC) date, and eight months ahead of the required IOC date.

“This is another significant increase in capability that we are providing for the Navy’s Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadrons,” said Capt. Joe Rixey, NAVAIR’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program manager (PMA-290).

The aircraft, delivered by L-3 Communications Integrated Systems (L-3 IS) in Waco, Texas, brings ForceNet (Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, and Secret Internet Protocol Router Network), Hostile Forces Integrated Targeting System Multi-Platform Emitter Geolocation, Enhanced Rosetta Stone, automated electronic surveillance measures capabilities, plus active Link-16 transmit to the EP-3E as baseline systems.

L-3 delivered the first of four spiral one low-rate, initial-production (LRIP) aircraft to the Navy in March. The $18 million full-rate production contract calls for six additional aircraft to be upgraded to the spiral one configuration.

“This is an important next step in modernizing the U.S. Navy’s EP-3 fleet and moving it toward a common technological baseline,” said Ed Boyington, vice president of Federal Programs and Waco, Texas site executive for L-3 IS. “L-3’s team is proud of its work on this aircraft and we know its enhanced mission capabilities will serve as great tools for the men and women of our armed forces.”

Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two (VQ-2) already took possession of two spiral one-configured aircraft. One was the aircraft used for test and the other was the first P-3C-to-EP-3E conversion aircraft. VQ-1 will soon get its first spiral one aircraft, which came out of the LRIP run that was approved last spring.

“The spiral one OPEVAL was extremely successful,” said Cmdr. Jim Baratta, Electronic Warfare and Special Missions department head in PMA-290. “We continue to seek out ways to improve the EP-3’s capabilities as we work with the fleet to meet warfighter requirements.”

The team is already working on building spiral two aircraft, and designing spiral three aircraft. This is the EP-3E team's second successful OPEVAL in a row. The last successful OPEVAL was for SSIP 4.0 baseline in March 2004.

“I am tremendously proud of the entire EP-3 team, especially the many folks at NAVAIR who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure we get the best possible aircraft systems in the fleet,” said Capt. John Dziminowicz, commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 10, based at NAS Whidbey Island. “JCC is an exciting new capability for our squadrons and our fleet operational commanders. It is the hard work and perseverance of the NAVAIR team that brings concepts to reality so that we continue to remain effective now and in the future.”

PHOTO CUTLINE

Photo by L-3 Communications

The first completed P-3C to EP-3E conversion aircraft departs from the L-3 Communications modification facility in Waco, Texas in March, and heads to Naval Air Station Patuxent River for testing and fleet training. This aircraft hosts the newest EP-3E JMOD Common Configuration spiral one ForceNet equipment suite.

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