Dubai Airshow: Boeing new military surveillance aircraft may be in UAE by 2015

Boeing promises speed and capability in its maritime surveillance plane using the Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet as a platform.

Boeing has selected the Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet as the platform for its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft programme which would be used for anti-piracy missions, coastal and border security as well as long-range search and rescue. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // The UAE could be among the countries in the region to receive military aircraft for maritime surveillance in 2015.

Boeing announced on Monday it had selected Bombardier's Challenger 605 business jet as the platform for its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) programme, which would be used for anti-piracy missions, coastal and border security, and long-range search and rescue.

The company said it was talking to many countries about the 150 aircraft, planned to be operational in 2015.

"The maritime surveillance aircraft brings to the marketplace a high-performance, cost-effective, maritime surveillance solution that's based upon the P-8 technology," Timothy Peters, Boeing's vice president of mobility, surveillance and engagement, said on Monday at the Dubai Airshow.

“The 605 brings a very unique capability of speed, payload and endurance in this particular mission.

“It allows countries, air forces and navies to get out long-range, and to look for enemy activity, smuggling, people fishing in waters they’re not supposed to fish in, and if there are border violations.

“It really gives you a multi-sensor capability to operate a lot of different missions. It lets you get out to a particular area, a long way out, fast, and put eyes on the target.”

The Challenger 604 jet is being modified by Field Aviation into an MSA demonstrator aircraft and flight testing is expected to begin in the next year.

“The unique aspect of the aircraft is its capability in terms of speed to station, because it is a nimble, quick jet aircraft as opposed to some of the others,” said Daniel Magarian, Field Aviation’s chairman.

“So you have about a nine-hour range – one hour out to station, seven hours on station and one hour back.

“The crew comfort, safety, capability and management of your mission are important things and it can be used for anti-piracy, any type of surveillance, from maritime patrol to illegal fishing and protecting your natural resources.”

Mr Peters said the Arabian Gulf held a significant position in the marketplace.

"We think there's a US$10 billion [Dh36.7bn] market for it worldwide over the next 10 years and the Gulf would represent a sizeable portion. There are 150 aircraft in the marketplace and we're talking with a number of different customers in this region and globally."

The aircraft could also be armed.

“In terms of capability, it can be armed so we’re looking with Boeing to see if that’s something we want to do together so it’s a possibility,” said Eric Martel, president of customer services and specialised and amphibious aircraft.

Boeing Defence, Space and Security is one of the world’s largest businesses specialising in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest maker of military aircraft.