Boeing Unveils New Maritime Surveillance Plane

Boeing Unveils New Maritime Surveillance Plane

FARNBOROUGH, England — Boeing developers have combined sensors and mission-equipment from their P-8 Navy surveillance aircraft with a Bombardier long-endurance Challenger 605 business jet to engineer a medium-size, high-speed, high-tech surveillance plane.

“We’ve taken P-8 mission systems, modularized them and put them on the Challenger 605. It has many of the same capabilities as the P-8 and the same look and feel with hand-picked sensors,” said Bob Schoeffling, a Boeing officials for maritime surveillance aircraft.

Although it will not be equipped with the weapons and anti-submarine warfare technology configured on the current P-8, the new aircraft will have many of the same sensor technologies currently in use on the P-8, Schoeffling said.

The newly unveiled plane is engineered for maritime surveillance, over-land surveillance, long-range search and rescue, border security and harbor security, he added.

The plane could also be used to patrol exclusive economic zones stretching several hundred miles off the coastline, Schoeffling said. These EEZ areas, established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, give nations the right to preserve and protect their economic interests up to 200 miles from shore.

Also, the plane will be equipped with a 360-degree active electronically scanned array multi-mode radar that includes synthetic aperture radar which paints a picture or rendering of the area below and Ground Moving Target Indicator, or GMTI.

The MSA is also equipped with high-definition, electro-optical-infrared cameras and dual-screen, multi-touch mission crew workstations.

The Bombardier Challenger 605 is 68-feet long and has a 64-foot wingspan. The aircraft can fly to altitudes up to 41,000 feet.

“We chose the challenger very carefully. We looked at a wide gamut of aircraft. We looked at it in terms of payload, speed, endurance and persistence,” Schoeffling added.

Although no specific countries were cited by Boeing officials, the company is currently discussing the MSA platform with a number of customers around the globe.

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Considering they are testing NGJ on a Gulfstream, it won’t be long before business jets become modular carriers of equipment.

“Hey look, you can get NGJ or maritime patrol modules for our magical jets. And in peacetime, you can transport VIPs around…!”

If they don’t have weapons carriage abilities, how will they carry the droppable rescue modules the P-3s carry when on SAR duty? Open the back door and toss them out? That seems a bit slipshod for a patrol aircraft!

That’s exactly how the P-3 deploys a SAR kit– out the main cabin door.

They won’t carry them at all, it only has the sensors.

Can track subs yes but unlike larger P-3 and P-8 cannot carry torpedoes to kill enemy subs.

Not the RNZAF ones, they carry them in the torpedo bay.

Air Force News, RNZAF, checck page 14. http://​www​.airforce​.mil​.nz/​d​o​w​n​l​o​a​d​s​/​p​d​f​/​a​i​r​f​o​rce
NZ Coastguard doesn’t have planes, only a few Cessna 172s from the local aero clubs on standby and the local police helicopters, so the air force handles the SAR the US coastguard usually carries out.

True but it can patrol to call in other armed assets to handle them while it tracks plus it can look for many other things you’d rather not use something like a P-3 or a P-8 on.

And per flight hour, it’s way cheaper. So if you just want EEZ patrol, like say 80pct of the countries do, instead of really pricey ASW capability, this makes a lot of sense. And of course, adding limited weapons stations would not be that hard either, but it would really add to the life cycle costs.

It is great to see this project progressing, and it will be even better after the first export sale has been inked.

Getting Airforces to accept an unarmed MPRA will be the challenge (France and Japan do have them, among others, but in the case of Japan it is their Coast Guard, IIRC). Airforces would rather accept reduced quantities of a gold-plated solution (with capabilities that will likely never be used) rather than something that performs 99% of the missions at a fraction of the cost. Such as the P8 when compared to this option. Half a Billion per plane versus much less to buy up front. Operating costs and crewing costs would be at opposite end of the spectrum, also.

As an example of asset misuse, our RAAF has been flying almost daily missions with the AP-3C on border protection tasking — for many years. They were also in the Middle East for upwards of a decade for both Maritime and Overland ISR. No weapons dropped in that time. Sometimes a P3 is the right asset for the job but those occasions are rare (plus at those times even the P8 would not really be suited anyway). Other times this platform would be perfect: faster, less complex and thus more reliable, with good endurance, a smaller maintenance footprint and thus able to be forward deployed to maximise mission effectiveness.

Our intent is to get 8 P8s and a handful of MQ-4C Tritons (7 or so), at a combined cost of probably $6B+. That will replace the 21 P3s that we had, and the 19 AP3Cs that we do have.

Overland ISR — such as Afghanistan and now over Iraq — is another area this asset would excel. With SAR/GMTI AESA and EO/IR package, it would perform well for nations lacking robust UAV capability — like a much more affordable though obviously less capable JSTARS, and broadly equivalent to the UK ASTOR (given development focus on those missions and supporting software). As a growth option, it may be the perfect platform to co-ordinate some UAVs, both the control of and data flows to, rebroadcasting intel for time-sensitive strikes.

A dozen of these could fill the force structure on EEZ patrol/search tasking, overland and maritime ISR, plus future growth options — while we retain the P8 for those missions it is better suited to (if we ever need to drop a torpedo, fire a missile, etc). The savings in operating costs over even a decade would pay for themselves plus the operators would benefit from the commonality of the systems so training costs would not be significantly increased.

Perhaps coastguard air arms will make the leap first…

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