Boeing formally announced the Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) program, based on the Bombardier Challenger business jet. Development has been under way for some time, with Field Aviation in Toronto already modifying a Boeing-owned Challenger 604 to serve as the demonstrator.
Doug Ilgenfritz, Boeing program manager, said the MSA represents “a rapid development based on [technology from] the P-8, 737 AEW&C and E-3 Awacs upgrade programs.” Tim Peters, Boeing v-p and general manager for mobility, surveillance and engagement, described the MSA as “a low-risk, cost-effective solution for missions such as anti-piracy, coastal and border security, and long-range search-and-rescue.” Since selling the P-8 Poseidon to India, Boeing has had no further export success for the 737-based replacement for the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The MSA is a repackaging of the P-8 mission system with less expensive sensors in a lower-cost airframe.
The demonstrator will fly early next year, fitted with a Selex radar, Flir Systems EO/IR sensor turret, and a Sigint system. It will have two operator stations in the cabin.
Field Aviation has previously modified some 50 aircraft for special missions, including five Challengers. The company said it will construct a new facility in the U.S. to perform completions.