Dubai Air Show

Quick-change Surveillance Sensor Fitted to Some U.S. Navy C-130s

 - November 14, 2011, 8:31 AM
The SABIR has already been fitted to some U.S. Navy C-130s when flying special operations missions.

A novel means of adding surveillance sensors to the C-130 quickly and with minimum modification is on display here at the Dubai Air Show. Highland Integrated Surveillance Systems (HISS) can replace the paratroop door on the Hercules with a roll-up door that includes a mount for sensors that retracts for takeoff and landing; a large bubble window and collapsible workstation for an observer/operator; and an equipment rack.

The Special AirBorne Mission Installation and Response system (SABIR) has already been fitted to some U.S. Navy C-130s when flying special operations missions, and to a U.S. Marine Corps C-130 in Japan. The system is attracting interest from the UAE and other air forces, according to HISS president and CEO Roger Smibert. The mount can take EO/IR sensor balls, small radars, SIGINT or electronic warfare equipment. When extended, it provides 360-degree coverage. An ejection tube for sonotubes or other SAR stores is also included. Two people can fit or remove the SABIR system in only one hour.

The modified door does not affect the C-130’s cargo-carrying capacity in any way. Moreover, a C-130 operator might fit SABIR doors to both sides of the fuselage to provide a multi-sensor capability. According to Smibert, the installation overcomes the weight limitation and turbulence issues of a nose-mounted sensor installation. The maximum payload is 400 pounds, and maximum sensor length is eight feet. The installation costs $1- to $1.5 million, exclusive of the payload.

The SABIR was originally designed by Airdyne Inc. for fitting to Canadian Armed Forces C-130s, for the carriage of a FLIR Systems EO/IR sensor ball. HISS (Stand E504) is another Canadian company that specializes in the fitting of airborne surveillance systems to helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. HISS has the marketing rights to the SABIR. When the Canadian program was delayed, airworthiness certification was done by the U.S. Air Force.

Smibert told AIN that the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works has endorsed the mod. The SABIR has also been fitted to the U.S. Air Force LC-130 that flies in the Antarctic for the National Science Foundation. It carries an X-band radar that is used to survey landing strips in case snow has covered a developing crack in the ice.

Prompted by one potential customer, HISS has done preliminary design for a CH-47F Chinook helicopter door installation.

HISS specializes in fitting surveillance equipment to aircraft and helicopters. It has added sensors on many different platforms, ranging in size from Fennec helicopters to an F-27. The company established a subsidiary in the Emirates in 2008. It lists a number of customers in the region, including the Bahrain, Dubai and Oman police forces; the UAE Border Guard; the Qatar Air Force; and the Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Forces.