The Naval Research Lab (NRL) Flight Support Detachment, located at Patuxent River, MD, provided a uniquely configured NP-3D "Orion" aircraft to support a wide spectrum of airborne research projects. This airborne platform chiefly supported the NSF/NCAR airborne Doppler radar ELDORA, basic state parameters, GPS Dropsondes, and other sophisticated instrumentation.
The aircraft had a flight endurance of up to 12 continuous hours, a range of up to 3,900 nautical miles and supported scientific missions at altitudes ranging from 200 ft to 31,000 ft. The plane was equipped with floor- and ceiling-mounted track systems to accommodate roll-on/roll-off equipment and could accommodate an internal payload of up to 4,500 lbs. A standardized fiber-optic wing wiring system allowed for seamless collection of data from wing mounted sensors and pods. A bomb bay pallet system allowed users to install and test equipment in a laboratory environment prior to final install on the aircraft. The aircraft also had a modified pneumatic sonobuoy launch system.
The NRL P-3 was decommissioned in January 2013 and is no longer available for request.