By lex, on June 2nd, 2010
On old horses:
Built in 1964 by Lockheed for the Navy as a submarine hunter, this P-3 was rescued from the so-called aviation Bone Yard in Arizona in the mid 1980s and outfitted with high-powered radars and cameras that see planes and ships miles away. Some equipment was upgraded or salvaged from other ventures.
The engines are no more than a decade old and a new set of wings are on the way, but the interior, with vintage seats, is straight from the days when Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.
The crew consisted of military veterans, most retired from the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines. The newest crew member was a retired Naval officer extensively trained in what to do should the plane have to be ditched at sea or go down in hostile territory…
When the plane spots suspected drug runners, it can covertly trail them for hours as the Coast Guard, Navy or other forces are radioed to move in to make arrests and capture loads.
“We want to see it, videotape it, track it,” said a senior crew member, who like the others, requested his name not be published to keep him and his family safe…
In its latest annual report to Congress, Customs and Border Patrol credits the fleet of 16 P-3 planes — all at least 40 years old and based in Corpus Christi and Jacksonville, Fla. — with “seizing or disrupting” a record 257,252 pounds of cocaine in 2009.
That is about four times the 61,559 pounds of cocaine seized at every port of entry in the United States last year.
When CBP has the need for some fast moving kinetics rather than long endurance search, I hope they give me a buzz.
I might could fit a little more FA-18A time in my log book.