Saab is confident of making a first sale of its 340-based maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) later this year, with its demonstrator having been flown for potential customers during the Singapore air show.
“The response has been really good,” says Richard Hjelmberg, head of marketing and sales for the maritime surveillance area at Saab Asia-Pacific. “Potential customers see the size of the cabin and the growth potential, and like the concept of using an adapted commercial aircraft.”
In its baseline configuration, the 340 MSA has one mission station installed within its cabin, with an operator in charge of an electro-optical/infrared sensor and other mission equipment. “We also have an option for a second operator, depending on communication requirements,” Hjelmberg says. Such an addition would enable a customer to use the aircraft in an airborne command and control role.
Also exhibited at last year’s Paris and Dubai shows, the 340 MSA is being pitched to air force, coastguard and government operators.
“We expect a first customer this year,” says Hjelmberg. “We have strong interest all around the world, but there’s a cluster of five or six countries here in Asia.”
The company, which also offers a dedicated maritime patrol aircraft development of the Saab 2000 regional airliner, claims that a 340 MSA could be delivered for the same cost of a special mission-adapted Beechcraft King Air 350. Deliveries of refurbished aircraft adapted for the MSA role could start within 12 months of a contract being signed.