When it comes to long range military presence, the Brazilian Air Force has really only one aircraft left who can do the job since the retirement of the KC-137 tankers: the Lockheed P-3AM Orion.
Without any in-flight refueling the American made maritime patrol aircraft is the sole credible air asset left to fly armed patrol over the vast Brazilian waters, especially at night. For example to reach the archipelago of Trindade and Martim Vaz, located some 1,200 kilometres (650 nautical miles) off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean.
The deployment of a P-3AM won’t be something new. Already in 2012 Squadron 1°/7° GAV Orungan, based at Salvador-Deputado Luis Eduardo Magelhaes, practiced the long-range mission to protect the far out national territory of Brazil.
,,Besides having one of the most modern radar systems, the Forward Looking Infra-Red or FLIR complements the information of maritime traffic and provides crisp and clear images even during the night,” explained one of the squadron pilots.
The P-3AM is able to stay up for 16 hours, while the mission crew collects information on anything it sees, including possible criminal or foreign military activity. The Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) has a huge area to cover its nations interests, about 22 million km2 of ocean approximately.
The archipelago of Trindade and Martim Vaz is named after its two main islands, which have 48 km (26 nautical miles) of ocean water in between them. The islands are inhabited, apart from a small garrison of the Brazilian Navy at Trindade, and are thereby the furthest outpost of the biggest nation of South America. Without naval presence the area around the islands would be prey to pirates and criminals.
Follow the personnel of the Brazilian Air Force on an earlier long-range mission:
Source: Força Aérea Brasileira with introduction by AIRheads’ Marcel Burger