Boeing sees its new maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) based on the Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet as potentially a starter platform for countries eyeing the higher-end P-8 Poseidon the company is supplying to the U.S. and Indian navies.
The MSA will take advantage of some P-8 systems in a smaller, more affordable aircraft compared to the weaponized, Boeing 737-based Poseidon, which is built for antisubmarine warfare. It will also connect into Boeing’s concept of a “family” of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms ranging from the ScanEagle UAV to the P-8 and airborne early warning and control aircraft.
“Differentiating between surveillance versus antisubmarine warfare capability, we saw that there might be room in the marketplace to think about that as two different points for customers that had different needs,” said Chris Raymond, Boeing Defense, Space and Security vice president of business development and strategy.
“We think we’ve leveraged the P-8 mission systems to the degree that we needed to. Our thought was: this was a way (for a customer) to get some initial capability if you wanted to and have it be complementary to the P-8 if you had them, or (planned to) eventually grow into the P-8. [To] sort of grow into it as a family was our thought process,” said Raymond, who spoke during a roundtable briefing on Monday in Singapore.
“Not everyone is going to need a full P-8 capability,” added Jim Armington, Boeing vice president for East Asia and Pacific international business development. “The MSA will bring about 80 percent of the capability at a much lower price point. What you’re looking for is that logic behind the niche that we’re trying to aim for. [T]here’s a need for surveillance and awareness and all of the intelligence-collection systems, and certainly the common architecture with the P-8 makes the interoperability question attractive.”
In November, Boeing (Chalet CS32) selected the Challenger 605 as the host platform for the MSA’s mission system, sensors and communications equipment. It awarded Field Aviation, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, a contract to modify the Challenger 605 structure and air vehicle systems into the MSA configuration. Field Aviation is modifying a Boeing-owned Challenger 604 in an MSA demonstrator aircraft that Boeing will fly for potential customers this year.
Once operational, the MSA will fit into a family of ISR systems, Raymond said. “We’re starting to form this idea where at one end you have the ScanEagle-type products and at the other end you have P-8s and airborne early warning and control platforms, and in between you have things like MSA [and] the U.S. Army’s EMARSS platform,” he said, referring to the King Air 350-based enhanced medium-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance system. “Through some of our capabilities and the acquisitions we’ve made, [Boeing plans to] grow our thread through the mission systems and then have offerings on different platforms and sizes.”