Lockheed Martin Orion 21
To replace around 110 aging Lockheed Orion P-3 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), in March 2000 the US Navy drew up a requirement for around 150 new multi-functional aircraft and named the programme the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA). The competition soon narrowed down to two aircraft, a version of the Boeing 737-800 and a new version of the Lockheed P-3 Orion, named the Orion 21.
The Lockheed Orion21 was intended to be a “rugged, all new-production weapon system based on the proven P-3 airframe that reflecting six decades of Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance experience”. Salient features were:
However, Lockheed’s efforts were in vain and on 14 Jun 2004 the US Navy awarded the MMA contract to Boeing and their 737-800 known as the P-8A. A great many countries intend to continue operating their P-3 Orions for many years to come, although many of these 14 operators have expressed an interest in acquiring an updated version of the P-3, it seems unlikely that the Orion 21 would ever be commercially viable without the MMA contract.