On October 3, 2018, the US State Department approved the possible foreign military sale of three Beechcraft 350ER aircraft to Canada for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations.
Under the $300 million deal, the aircraft will be fitted with customer-unique ISR equipment, including the Wescam MX-15D multi-spectral imaging sensor; Northrop Grumman AAR-47B(v)2 infrared-guided missile, laserguided/ laser-aided threat, and unguided munition warning system and BAE Systems’ ALE- 47 airborne countermeasures dispenser systems.
The aircraft are being proposed under Canada’s manned airborne ISR programme, which will support the country’s Special Forces.
In July, the Canadian Department of National Defence identified the United States as the “only source” capable of providing a fully integrated solution to its ISR requirements.
In addition, the US Department of Defense announced on October 31, 2018, that Sierra Nevada Corporation had been awarded a $24 million contract for the modification of two King Air 350ER aircraft for Saudi Arabia.
The aircraft will receive ISR equipment that includes a synthetic aperture radar capability for the platform, one transportable ground station, one fixed ground station and a mission system trainer.
Total value of the acquisition contract is $99.8 million and the work is expected to be completed by May 2020.
In related news, Australia has also recently developed a similar capability by modifying three of its existing fleet of King Air 350 aircraft for the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, reconnaissance and electronic warfare role under Air Force Minor Project AFM01037.
The aircraft were modified in Australia by Hawker Pacific with a roll-on/roll-of capability to support Special Operations Command. Nigel Pittaway