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Germany left with no maritime patrol capability as last operational Orion breaks down

P-3C Orion
German defense ministry file photo

The German Armed Forces are no longer able to participate in the EU surveillance mission Irini as the last operational P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft was grounded earlier this month.

The Bundeswehr said the aircraft that was flying in the Med was grounded on January 8 due to a technical defect. The service still does not know when the aircraft could return to operations.

Germany contributed to operation Irini with the deployment of ships and aircraft. This is not only problem German Armed Forces experienced during the operation. In November last year, Germany and turkey were at loggerheads as frigate FGS Hamburg boarded a Turkish-flagged vessel for an inspection. Turkish officials pressured the frigate to abort the inspection claiming the operation was a violation of the UN Convention on the High Seas.

The aircraft that was used in the international arms embargo mission was the only operational one of four Orions still in service as the other three are undergoing maintenance. Germany bought a total of eight used P-3Cs from the Netherlands, and has already retired four.

Germany plans to operate the P-3Cs until 2025, when it intends to procure another interim solution before the Maritime Airborne Weapons System (MAWS) project that the country is undertaking with France begins deliveries. This is expected to take place from 2035 onwards.