Saab has unveiled a new maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) based on its 340 regional airliner, which it says could be acquired for around $20 million.
Pictured at the company's Linköping site in Sweden on 31 May before its first flight in the new configuration, 340B+ demonstrator SE-MCG has been equipped with a Telephonics 1700B synthetic aperture radar and forward-looking infrared sensor beneath its fuselage. Japan's coastguard already operates four similarly configured aircraft, but with different internal equipment.
The 340 MSA is being aimed at coastguards, police or militaries with maritime surveillance responsibilities. Basic endurance is cited as being 6.5h, but could be increased to 8h with the addition of auxiliary fuel tanks.
Onboard systems can be monitored by a single operator, although Saab says more operators and functions can be added, including transport, medical evacuation and environmental sensor equipment or disposable sensors.
Saab is offering to convert airframes reaching the end of airline service and completely re-life them. Most of the 462 Saab 340s built were completed in the late 1990s, and the majority are still in operation.
The company foresees a worldwide market for between 50 and 100 of this type of aircraft in the next 15-20 years. Its MSA demonstrator - which was built in 1998 and operated by Mesaba Airlines in Northwest Airlink colours until 2011 - will make its first public appearance at the Farnborough air show in July.