Lockheed WP-3D Orion
|NOAA Lockheed WP-3D Hurricane Hunters|
|Role||Weather reconnaissance aircraft|
|National origin||United States|
|Primary user||National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration|
|Developed from||P-3C Orion|
The Lockheed WP-3D Orion is a highly modified P-3 Orion used by the Aircraft Operations Center division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Only two of these craft exist, each incorporating numerous features for the role of collecting weather information. During hurricane season, the WP-3Ds are deployed for duty as hurricane hunters.
The WP-3Ds are equipped with three weather radars, C band radars in the nose and on the lower fuselage, and an X-band radar in the aircraft's tail. They are also equipped with the ability to deploy dropsondes into storm systems, and have onboard temperature sensors, and other meteorological equipment. The aircraft are not specially strengthened for flying into hurricanes, however their decks were reinforced to withstand the additional equipment load.
It has two barber-pole samplers (named for their red-and-white stripes) which protrude from the aircraft’s front, a tail Doppler weather radar, and other unique-looking instruments hanging from the wing.
NOAA currently operates two WP-3Ds nicknamed Miss Piggy and Kermit, and their logos featuring the characters created by Jim Henson Productions. NOAA's other hurricane hunting aircraft, the Gulfstream IV-SP, is named Gonzo; they complement the fleet of WC-130 aircraft operated by the U.S. Air Force 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.
Specifications (P-3 Orion)
- Crew: 11
- Length: 116 ft 10 in (35.6 m)
- Wingspan: 99 ft 8 in (30.4 m)
- Height: 33 ft 8.5 in (10.3 m)
- Wing area: 1300 ft² (120.8 m²)
- Empty weight: 61,500 lb (27,900 kg)
- Loaded weight: lb (kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 139,760 lb (63,400 kg)
- Powerplant: 4 × Allison T56-A-14 turboprop, 4,600 shp (3,700 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 466 mph (745 km/h)
- Range: 5,600 miles ferry (9,000 km)
- Service ceiling: 28,300 ft (8,600 m)
- Rate of climb: 3,140 ft/min (957 m/min)
- Wing loading: 107 lb/ft² (530 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.03 hp/lb (0.06 kW/kg)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Lockheed WC-130
- Convair 580 - National Research Council (Canada) converted to perform atmospheric testing
- Related lists
- Krohn, Dennis (March 2008). "USGS Extreme Storm Team Receives Christmas Week Tour of NOAA Aircraft Facility". Retrieved December 14, 2010.
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