Farnborough Air Show

Grob Offers ISR Solutions as H3 Aerospace

 - July 18, 2018, 5:32 AM
The ISR pod on this Grob 120TP was designed by H3 Aerospace. It has the ability for quick fit and removal and can be fitted to aircraft such as King Airs and helicopters. H3 has been working on the ISR technology for the past three years.

The H3 Aerospace Group is making its debut with a prominent outside display this week at the Farnborough Airshow. While the branding is new, the man behind H3—Andre Hiebeler—is a familiar face in the aerospace world. Hiebeler and his brother and sister bought Grob Aircraft out of bankruptcy nine years ago and developed it into a premier provider of basic training aircraft.

Now the company has expanded its range of activities and the new label is more appropriate, Hiebeler told AIN. In particular, H3 (Outside Exhibit 3) sees great opportunity in providing ISR mission systems, where it is merging sensors, datalinks, and displays from a variety of non-U.S. suppliers. The company has been working in earnest for the past three years on the ISR solutions that are displayed this week at Farnborough—a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, Grob G120TP, and a German MAN all-terrain truck converted as a ground control station.

The Caravan features a new underbelly radome that H3 has designed as a substitute for the OEM’s standard cargo pod. It can contain various sensors and a datalink, and is already certified. Hiebeler told AIN that the Caravan is already serving widely in Africa, which is a key target market for H3. Kenya is a customer and H3 hopes to close more deals with others “in the next couple of weeks," according to Hiebeler.

Meanwhile, the G120TP carries the ISR pod that H3 has designed for quick fit and removal. It also could be fitted to a variety of aircraft, including Textron Beechcraft King Airs, the Embraer Super Tucano, and helicopters. The EO/IR turret on the Caravan is from Hensoldt’s South African subsidiary; the control station from Spanish company Sainsel; and the datalink from Italian company IPR. But H3 is offering to integrate a variety of other sensors, such as radars from Leonardo or Thales, the Wescam MX-20 EO/IR turret, and various SIGINT or AIS systems.

Notably, these are all ITAR-free systems that can be offered as “no-nonsense solutions,” according to Hiebeler. He admitted that H3 is entering a crowded field, but said that Grob’s experience with a wide customer base will pay off. “We can make every installation a success story,” Hiebeler claimed.

Moreover, the company is preparing to restart production of the G520 Egrett high-altitude turboprop, which he said is a viable ISR platform. “We are in the last stages of negotiation for three to four new-generation G520NG versions,” Hiebeler told AIN.