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BG - Replacing the
CP-140 Aurora


Canadian Forces  Aircraft    —    Lockheed Martin  CP-140  Aurora

Aurora  –   Goddess of  the Dawn
The CP-140 Aurora is a distinctly Canadian version  of  Lockheed's P-3 Orion maritime patrol  aircraft. In essence, the Aurora combined the P-3 airframe with the avionics from a different Lockheed design, the carrier-based  S-3 Viking anti- submarine aircraft. When 18 Auroras entered service in 1980, the CP-140s were the most advanced long-range ASW aircraft of the time.

Two and a half decades on, those Aurora electronics had become outdated and difficult to find parts for  (USN S-3s were no longer used for ASW). While other the operators of  P-3s benefitted from regular upgrade packages applied to US Navy Orions, the Aurora's distinctiveness became a disadvantage. No simple, economical  'plug-ins' for  the CP-140. With no CP-140 replacement then on the horizon, DND embarked on its Aurora Incremental Modernization Project. AIMP was to be implemented in four phases [1] while the Aurora Structural  Life  Extension Project dealt with airframe issues.

  CP-140  Aurora – Specifications [2]
  span 30.37m, area 120.7mē,
  length 35.61m,  ht. 10.30m
  Power:   4 x 3424 kW R-R T56s [3]
  Range:   9266 km (5000 nm, 5737 mi)
  Speed:   648 km/h cruising speed
  Crew:   min. 10 flt./system ops [4]
  Ceiling:   Service 12496 m  (41000 ft)

The long-term future of the Aurora was in question. Both AIMP and  ASLEP were to be abandoned  but the MND changed  his mind again within months. Now 10 Aurora updates will be completed to AIMP Phase III and those ten airframes willalso be 'life- extended'.  With a part-upgrade,  Auroras will never be a strategic surveillance asset as envisoned  by AIMP proponents. However, until at least 2012, the ten re-lifed CP-140s will soldier on in their more traditional roles – anti-submarine warfare combined with sovereignty patrols over Canada's three coastlines.

[1] The PMO Aurora divided AIMP into groups:  acoustic (sonobuoy and acoustic system modernization), communications management, radios, data link, data management, sensors, navigation, and flight instruments. AIMP was then divided into four phases or blocks. Block 1 covered replacement/upgrade of  HF (high frequency) radio gear, cockpit voice recorder, flight data recorder, and SRX (speed and range expansion) antennae. Block 2 upgraded the navigation systems including directional indicators, GPS, inertial navigation system, autopilot, radar altimeter, transponder, and ACAS (collision avoidance). Block 3 upgraded communications (VHF / UHF radios, SatCom radio),  Data Management System, and sensors (imaging radar, E/O, MAD (magnetic-anomaly detection) system, etc.). Block 4 was to include DEWS (defensive early-warning system) and a stand-off air-to-surface missile system (extended range Harpoon has been mentioned in the past). Blocks 1 through 3 were substantially complete when AIMP was cancelled and will still be implemented, but  block 4 was never approved.
[2] A general description of CP-140 Aurora sensors and systems will be included on our Aurora Incremental  Modernization Project page.
[3] The US military designation is used. Current CP-140 engine is the T56-A-14-LFE  – military version of the civilian 501-D22A turboprop. The full military rating is shown. The civilian power rating is 3362kW (4508shp).  The T56 was an Allison design, now part of Rolls-Royce.
[4] A typical crew consists of 2 pilots, 1 flight engineer (FE), 4 navigators (Air Nav), and 3 Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators (AESOp). Air Nav responsiblities are: one for navigation and communication duties, one for tactics, and the other two operate the acoustic sensors.

Photo Credits —  CP-140 Aurora side view: Stephen Priestley, lower middle left: IMP Aerospace, other images: Canadian Forces / DND.