The US Army has awarded Boeing a 24-month contract to develop a new airborne reconnaissance platform – EMARSS.
EMARSS – or the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System – will give the US Army a 24-hour, all-weather capability to seek out, identify and follow targets at ground level with high-speed precision.
Under the terms agreed, Boeing will produce four demonstrator aircraft at first, but the option is there for two more demonstrators and six production airframes, too. If this happens, the contract will grow from two years to three-and-a-half.
US Army Intelligence Aircraft
Boeing’s US Army intelligence aircraft will be a modified Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350 – one of a range of similar twin-engined propeller-driven types used by both commercial and military operators. A slightly earlier variant, the King Air B200, is operated by the RAF, while the Swiss Air Force, the Iraqi Air Force and many others are also equipped with it.
To optimise the King Air for its ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) role, Boeing will integrate a number of technologies into the aircraft. These will include an electro-optic sensor, a system that stores communications intelligence, communications suites that operate at a variety of levels and other features.
New Boeing Intelligence Aircraft
“The Boeing team is honored to have been selected for the EMARSS contract”, Boeing Phantom Works President, Darryl Davis, stated in a press release on the new Boeing intelligence aircraft, issued on 6 December 2010. “We believe our technical approach, combined with our previous airborne sensor and communication systems integration experience, provides strong value to the Army and Department of Defense.”
“By working closely with our business partners in Phantom Works, we were able to rapidly define and develop a solution tailored to the warfighter’s needs”, Boeing Network & Space Systems President, Roger Krone, added. “The sensor and network capabilities Boeing is offering, along with the reliability and flexibility of the King Air platform, will provide the Army with a new level of battlefield mission support.”
Boeing Phantom Works is the US aerospace/defence firm’s research and development division. It is responsible for a number of new US military technologies including the Phantom Eye and Phantom Ray drones.
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