Farnborough Air Show

Special-mission King Airs continue to find new work

 - July 19, 2010, 6:45 AM

Aviation & Applied Ecology in Moscow has just taken delivery of a Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350 with provision for dual digital-mapping cameras for photo- survey missions. It is also capable of being rapidly converted to VIP transport configuration. This aircraft is the first King Air to be exported to Russia, the type having received its local certification last December. Its rugged reliability and short-field capability make it ideal for mapping in regions where there is little in the way of traditional support, and where runways may often be short and unprepared.

Hawker Beechcraft has also delivered a King Air 200 to Aerodata AG of Germany, which will modify the aircraft for maritime-patrol work. After installation
of mission equipment, such as search radar and EO/IR turret, the aircraft is scheduled for delivery to the armed forces of Malta in early 2011. Malta will use the aircraft on maritime patrol and security missions around the island, and has a second order pending.

In the special-missions sector, however, the big prize is the U.S. Army’s newly launched EMARSS (enhanced medium-altitude reconnaissance surveillance system) program, which is looking at 36 modified King Air 350ERs to replace ageing RC-7 and RC-12 ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) platforms.

EMARSS specifies that the first four units be ready for service within 18 months of contract award. Various prime contractors such as Boeing, L-3 and Northrop Grumman are vying for the mission system integration. L-3 has already produced an ISR version of the King Air 350ER–the MC-12W Liberty–for the U.S. Air Force.