Not many people in defense circles have heard of the Tecnam P2006T light twin, but two of these Italian-built aircraft were on display at Farnborough International to highlight the type’s suitability to perform a range of surveillance and maritime patrol duties at a low cost.
Powered by two Rotax 912 four-stroke, four-cylinder engines that can run on autogas, the P2006T offers a patrol endurance of more than six hours, burning just 7.8 U.S. gallons/30 liters per hour. The P2006T is normally a four-seater, but for special missions Airborne Technologies modifies the aircraft to a two-seat configuration comprising a single pilot and a systems operator in the rear. Based at Wiener Neustadt in Austria, this company specializes in engineering modifications to several aircraft types for surveillance duties, and acts as the systems integrator for the P2006T.
Airborne Technologies can offer or develop multiple capabilities for the Tecnam MMA (multi-mission aircraft). The company has developed camera lifts so that sensor turrets such as L-3 Wescam’s MX-10 can be retracted into the cabin when not in use. At Farnborough an MMA aircraft with FLIR/Polytech Ultra Force 275 HD electro-optical/infrared camera was handed over to Aero GB for a range of survey and surveillance tasks. The Greater Manchester Police have been operating a Tecnam MMA for some time on an extended evaluation.
Tecnam and Airborne Technologies are part of a team led by Spanish technology company Indra that is promoting the Tecnam MRI for low-cost, inshore maritime patrol duties. This version of the MMA features an integrated mission system from Indra with three large screens at the operator console. Sensors consist of an Ultra Force 275 EO/IR turret, AIS (automatic identification system) transponder and a Selex Galileo Seaspray 5000E AESA search radar. This ITAR-free sensor offers a number of modes, including synthetic aperture radar and moving target indication, and can be used over land as well as at sea. The Tecnam MRI is also fitted with a high-bandwidth line-of-sight datalink that links it to a ground support station. Satellite communications could be added if required.