Extending the Service Life of the Navy’s P-3C Orion Aircraft Fleet

Louis E. Alfeld, J. Chris White, CAPT George Hill, USN and Cdr. Alan Easterling, USN

As with most military aircraft fleets, difficulties with forecasting maintenance costs, modernizing systems, and extending service life concern the Navy’s P-3C Orion fleet. Inadequate planning throughout the operations and support (O&S) phase can result in excessive costs, poor performance, and, worst of all, aircraft on the ground. PMA-290, the program office for the USN P-3C fleet, must create, justify, and defend a plan for extending the life of the fleet to the year 2038. In their planning process, PMA-290 is using an innovative and sophisticated life cycle simulation tool called FleetSightÔ , which is based on the system dynamics modeling and simulation methodology. FleetSight combines the power of computer simulation, causal feedback loops, and the ease of a Windows PC user interface to provide a leading edge analysis tool that integrates all aspects of O&S, including maintenance requirements, operational tempo, resource availability, and aging impacts.

PMA-290 uses FleetSight to analyze alternative "what-if?" scenarios, centered around the Multi-mission Maritime Mission Aircraft (MMA) modernization program for the P-3C fleet. Modeling results quantify changes in costs, resource requirements, availability, and aircraft condition over time. "What if?" scenarios include alternative induction rates, changes in material condition produced by the upgrade, and the use of additional aircraft to maximize availability.

Simulation analysis allows PMA-290 to explore many more options in greater detail and in less time. Options that promise the lowest cost and lowest risk are quickly identified for more complete analysis.

The presentation will focus on actual results from P-3C analyses, the system dynamics model that is embedded in FleetSight and how that model allows for more realistic projections of aircraft performance and availability over long periods of time.