A9-434 5231 153434 06JUN67 #2 - 14FEB98 20FEB04
Arrived at Jacksonville, Florida from AMARC for mods. (Source: 1)
Handed over to the RAAF. (* Source: 1 shows the date as AUG98 which clearly cannot be correct. Perhaps AUG97?)
Arrived at RAAF Edinburgh. (Source: 2)
Withdrawn from service and used for parts.
Broken up for scrap at Edinburgh.

A9-438 5235 153438 16AUG67 #3 - 18JUN99 20FEB04
Arrived at Jacksonville, Florida from AMARC for mods. (Source: 1)
Handed over to the RAAF. (Source: 1)
Arrived at RAAF Edinburgh at 1520 using callsign "MAKO 03". (Source: 4)
Last flight by an RAAF TAP-3B.
Withdrawn from service and used for parts.
Broken up for scrap at Edinburgh.

A9-439 5236 153439 19JUL67 #1 - 01AUG97 20FEB04
Arrived at Jacksonville, Florida from AMARC for mods. (Source: 1)
Handed over to the RAAF. (Source: 1)
Arrived at RAAF Edinburgh. (Source: 5)
An inspection of the aircraft data plate confirmed its identity although it shows an acceptance date by the USN of 14JUL67. (Source: 3)
Withdrawn from service and used for parts.
Still extant at Edinburgh. Subsequently broken up for scrap.


L-185B ORION P-3B-75-LO

(Spares Aircraft)

NIL 5204 152760 08NOV66 22JUN95
Served with VP46, VP30, VP93 & VP67.
Retired by the USN with 14,255 hours on the airframe.
The aircraft was acquired as a source of parts under Project Air 5276 to support three other P-3B which were converted to TAP-3B. On arrival RAAF Edinburgh ex Jacksonville, Florida, the aircraft was converted to components. This aircraft was not allocated an RAAF serial number.
Cockpit section used as Project Air 5276 (AP-3C) Trainer.
Fuselage used for Battle Damage Repair Training.
An Orion fin/rudder is displayed outside the 92 Wing HQ at RAAF Edinburgh. Despite earlier speculation that it had come from the parted-out P-3B 152760, it has now been established that it came from P-3C A9-754.
This airframe was broken up for scrap at Edinburgh.


L-185B ORION P-3B-75-LO


NIL 5201 152758 - -
This aircraft was used to test the feasibility of Orion inflight refuelling. It was also the first testbed for the NAVSTAR Satellite Navigation System, which is now known as GPS. (Source: 6)
To AMARC as 2P0094. (Source: 6)
This aircraft had been selected for conversion to TAP-3B but it was rejected because of excessive corrosion. (Source: 5)
Scrapped at HVF West, Tucson, AZ. (Source: 6)




The TAP-3B aircraft were acquired to serve as trainers/transports to conserve the airframe life of the operational P-3C fleet.
The last recorded flight by a TAP-3B was by A9-438 on 18FEB04 using the call-sign "Sealion 51". It is understood that the official retirement date for the TAP-3B fleet was 20FEB04. Subsequently, the aircraft have been used for parts.


ANAO Audit Report No. 10 (2005-2006) See extracts below.
SAAJ V.26 N. 4 SAAJ - South Australian Air Journal produced by Nigel Daw.
SAAJ V.27 N.2 SAAJ - South Australian Air Journal produced by Nigel Daw.
SAAJ V.28 N.1 SAAJ - South Australian Air Journal produced by Nigel Daw.
ADF-Serials website. http://www.adf-serials.com.au/3a9.htm
Joe Baugher http://www.joebaugher.com/navy_serials/navyserials.html


Auditor-General's Audit Report No. 10 (2005-2006)

The following is extracted from Audit Report No. 10 (2005-2006) titled "Upgrade of the Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft Fleet" issued by the Australian National Audit Office. The extract covers only the section relevant to:

"The purchase, under the United States (US) Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, of three second-hand Orion aircraft and their modification to a training and utility (that is, passenger and cargo transport) aircraft (designated TAP-3 Training Australian P-3) and acquisition of a fourth aircraft to become a source of spare parts."

Acquisition and Refurbishment of Second-hand aircraft (Chapter 3)

21. Project Air 5276 included the acquisition of three Orion training aircraft, designated as TAP-3s. Their main purpose (primary mission) was to reduce the training burden from the main Orion fleet, thus extending the service life of that fleet. The three TAP-3s only achieved about 300 dedicated flying training hours a year against a target of more than 1,200 hours. Also, the full fleet of three aircraft was only used from February 1999 to November 2003.

22. Air Force mainly flew the TAP-3s as utility aircraft. In carrying out that role, the aircraft helped to ensure that No. 92 Wing's Orion pilots maintained flying currency on the aircraft. There are no cost comparisons available to determine whether the use of the TAP-3s for the utility aircraft role was cost-effective. Defence considers that the availability of the TAP-3 aircraft provided operational flexibility which was significant but difficult to cost.

23. During their in-service period, the TAP-3 aircraft usually flew about 1 050 hours a year (750 hours in the transport role, 300 hours on pilot and crew training). On transport (including logistic resupply and repair) flights, the TAP-3 aircraft provided a considerable amount of continuation flying training 8 to the Orion pilots. This was flying training that would not have been available at the time because of low numbers of available P-3C aircraft and the low fidelity of the flight simulator in service at the time. Defence considers that without the TAP-3 flights, No. 92 Wing would not have been able to maintain currency of all of its assigned pilots, and that the TAP-3 aircraft were valuable by providing options for additional operational tasking on a day to day basis, particularly when the C-130 transport fleet was very busy

24. Defence chose the FMS route for this element of the Project because FMS was considered to offer advantages on cost, schedule and risk. From contract signature (February 1994) to completion of this element (December 1998), contract costs rose from $US 31 million to $US 37.79 million, and total costs of the TAP-3 acquisition from an estimate of $A 42 million to $A 53.92 million.9

25. Delays in the delivery of the three refurbished TAP-3 aircraft were 9, 19 and 25 months, respectively. This schedule slippage was estimated by Air Force to cost about $US 5 200 per working day in project management and engineering overheads. Cost escalation and delivery delays were due in part to an underestimation of the cost and delivery time implications of the differences in Air Force's servicing requirements and standards compared to US Navy aircraft servicing practices at the time. There was inadequate consideration by Defence of the implications of signing a 'cost-plus' agreement, which provided less than full visibility and auditability on some technical and financial aspects.

26. The ANAO found that the main factors contributing to the problems experienced in the acquisition of the second-hand Orion aircraft included:
  • worse than expected condition of the aircraft purchased; FMS cost recoupment policy;10

  • limitations on Air Force's ability to ensure that the charges made in the FMS case were correct;

  • US Navy servicing work not meeting Air Force's technical standards and limitations on Air Force's ability to ensure that these standards were achieved; and

  • Defence and US Navy failed to recognise the unique features of the Australian requirements for modification and servicing and the associated cost implications.


  Continuation training refers to the number of flying hours required by pilots to maintain currency on an aircraft type, over a period of time.
  Net exchange rate gains amounted to $1.55 million, and price increases to $13.47 million.
  Standard financial terms and conditions for FMS are set by the US Government. They are outlined in para. 3.19.


Camera icon is linked to a photo.

Issue Date Remarks
5 25FEB18
Updated table data from sources shown in an added Sources table. For clarity, P-3B 152760 has been moved from the P-3B page to this page as the aircraft was acquired as a spares source to support the TAP-3B project.
4 07SEP15
Table completely reformatted. Nil change to data.
3 18JUN08
Added images of A9-434, A9-438 and A9-439 in a parted-out state at Edinburgh in October 2007. Thanks to Richard Siudak for the images.
2 06JUN08
Added a report from the ADF Serials website that A9-434 and A9-438 have been broken up for scrap.
1 11OCT05
Previously, all Orions were presented on the one page. Effective from this date, there are separate pages for each type, P-3B, TAP-3B and P-3C. If required, the previous summary of updates can be viewed here.

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