Boeing Touts King Air-based 'Ramis' Surveillance Aircraft

 - June 25, 2014, 11:12 PM
King Air 350-based Ramis demonstrator, developed under the U.S. Army's Yellow Jacket effort, is shown at Boeing's St. Louis headquarters. (Photo: Bill Carey)

Boeing has added to its portfolio of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft a “multi-int” platform based on the Beechcraft King Air 350ER. The company’s Reconfigurable Airborne Multi-Intelligence System (Ramis) was originally developed as a demonstrator for the U.S. Army and is now being offered to customers.

Ramis combines imagery intelligence (Imint), electronic intelligence (Elint), signals intelligence (Sigint) and communications intelligence (Comint) sensors on the King Air twin turboprop, which has seven hours’ mission endurance. The system is modular, allowing for different sensors and combinations of sensors.

According to Boeing, Ramis fills a gap in the ISR platforms it now offers between the Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system at the low end and the Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, based on the Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet. At the high end is the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft based on the Boeing 737-800.

At its St. Louis headquarters this week, Boeing Defense displayed for reporters the Ramis demonstrator it developed for the U.S. Army under a secretive program known as Yellow Jacket. When the Army discontinued the effort, Boeing returned government-furnished equipment and continued the development. It obtained supplemental type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration for the King Air modification. Mike Ferguson, Boeing’s Ramis business development lead, said the company has customers for the aircraft, but he declined to identify them.

A typical configuration would have an electro-optical/infrared sensor with full-motion video, wide-area imagery, surveillance radar and Comint/Sigint package. Among the sensors Ramis can carry is the CRI LodeStar wide area motion imagery (WAMI) system, which Ferguson described as a “city-sized” large-format camera. It “takes a very detailed picture with a frame rate, so I can watch every car in a city moving and I can zoom in on little specific areas and watch one car driving while I still record the bigger image,” he explained. “What it allows you to do then is collect [imagery] over a large area and track multiple individual objects within that scene while recording the entire scene, so I can use it for forensic analysis afterward.”

The demonstrator was configured with a Lighthouse 3 Comint/Sigint suite from Argon ST, a Boeing subsidiary. Broadband Ka/Ku-band satellite connectivity and flare/chaffe dispensers are offered as options.