Diamond DA42 Twin Star Bids for Surveillance Orders
An all-composite four-seat general aviation aircraft made in Austria is attracting serious interest in the ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) world. The manufacturer of the Diamond DA42 Twin Star is also marketing the airplane as a multipurpose platform (MPP), equipped variously with small radar, EO and IR sensors. A modular nose to house these has recently been certified. The DA42 is powered by two diesel engines and has a theoretical endurance of over eight hours when fitted with a long-range tank. Diamond previously claimed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a launch customer for the MPP, and recently reported that deliveries began last July. At about that time, British company DO Systems imported two DA42s that are now being evaluated by the UK Ministry of Defence. One of these is shown (above) in a signals intelligence configuration. DO Systems claims that the DA42 MPP can stay airborne for more than 14 hours at 18,000 feet. Though this may seem like an excessively long time, Diamond has explored the development of an unmanned version, as well as a more reliable and powerful engine.