L-3 Mission Integration said it conducted the first flight earlier this year of a modified Beechcraft Super King Air 350ER prototype under the U.S. Army’s Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (Emarss) program. The Emarss-M1 “initial variant modification” is the first of three variants that will be tested this year, the company announced.
The L-3 division in Greenville, Texas, is converting eight U.S. Air Force MC-12W Project Liberty twin-engine turboprops to an MC-12S-2 Emarss-M, or multi-intelligence, variant. The Army’s Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., awarded the division a $32 million contract on March 31, 2015 to modify one aircraft to the Emarss-M configuration. The estimated completion date of the contract is September 30.
The Emarss-M1 first flight took place on March 14 from Majors Field in Greenville; L-3 made the announcement on June 22.
Under the 24-aircraft Emarss program, the Army has specified four intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance variants: an Emarss-S for multi-intelligence with broad spectrum signals intelligence and high-definition, full-motion video (HD FMV); Emarss-V with Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (Vader); and Emarss-G with geographical intelligence, wide area surveillance, light imaging and ranging and HD FMV.
Four of the aircraft are Emarss-S variants modified by Boeing, eight will be “Constant Hawk” Emarss-Gs and four will be Emarss-Vs fitted with the Northrop Grumman Vader system.
In the June press release, L-3 said it will complete the modification of three additional aircraft this year, and those aircraft will take part in a combined operational test and evaluation program involving initial versions of the four Emarss variants. First deliveries to the Army are planned next year.
“The Army is leveraging prior investments in proven quick-reaction capability baselines by upgrading existing Constant Hawk/TACOP (tactical operations), Project Liberty and Vader assets to meet the Emarss program of record requirements at low risk,” said Jim Hundley, L-3 Mission Integration senior director of Army and surveillance programs.
“L-3 and Sierra Nevada Corporation are working collaboratively as prime integrators, and these Emarss platforms will share a common logistics footprint for efficient life-cycle management for decades to come,” he added.