USN Orions are no stranger to snow in Japan. Here a VP-10 Squadron P-3C is being signaled by ground personnel at Naval Air Facility Misawa on 10 January 2013 (Image © Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Alfredo Rosado / USN)

Roof collapse: the end of the Orions?

USN Orions are no stranger to snow in Japan. Here a VP-10 Squadron P-3C is being signaled by ground personnel at Naval Air Facility Misawa on 10 January 2013 (Image © Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Alfredo Rosado / USN)
USN Orions are no stranger to snow in Japan. Here a VP-10 (Patrol) Squadron P-3C is being signaled by ground personnel at Naval Air Facility Misawa on 10 January 2013
(Image © Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Alfredo Rosado / USN)

LATEST UPDATE 11 MARCH 2014 | Snow is great for snowball fights. But when it is on your roof, you better make sure you clear it before it becomes too heavy. That didn’t happen in time at Atsugi in Japan, where four US Navy and six Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Lockheed P-3 Orions were inside a hangar that gave in on 17 February 2014. It might mean the immediate end of the unfortunate machines.

The structure built in 1955 is owned by Nippi Corp. The Kawasaki subsidiary repairs Japanese and US Navy aircraft at that location. Photos taken from the air show damaged Orion tail sections sticking out of the rubble. Since the US is replacing the P-3s with the new jet powered Boeing P-8 Poseidon, the four American aircraft inside might be sold to a scrapyard instead of making it back to the flightline. The Japanese are also slowly withdrawing their P-3s from service, so their six Orions involved might have a similar faith.

But officially there is no decision made yet, as the American military magazine Stars and Stripes quotes Atsugi base spokesman Greg Kuntz: “Although the immediate damage to the hangar appears extensive, the possible damage to aircraft is not currently known. Nippi Corp is working on cleaning up the debris.”

Almost a month later they seem still be doing that, according to local sources. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force also released the exact types of their aircraft. Still stuck in the second week of March are 3 Kawasaki license built P-3Cs, a OP-3C (optical reconnaissance), a EP-3 (ELINT) and a UP-3D (training).

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

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