DAIMLER-BENZ Aerospace Airbus subsidiary Elbe Flugzeugwerke has delivered a converted Tupolev Tu-154M airliner to the German air force for use in open-skies surveillance operations.

The aircraft, formerly part of the Federal defence ministry VIP flight, has been adapted for the surveillance role in a 12-month conversion costing DM45 million ($32.5 million). The Dresden based company fitted equipment, which included three optical-framing cameras and three video systems into the aircraft for the first stage of open-skies observation.

The final surveillance capability of German open-skies aircraft is planned for 1997 with the addition of an infra-red line scanner, an optical panoramic camera, for high-altitude-observation passes, and a side-looking synthetic-aperture radar. The aircraft will be used for disarmament verification in accordance with the 1992 open-skies treaty, signed by 25 NATO and East European countries.

Further support activities for the open-skies surveillance system, are also scheduled to be carried out by Elbe.

The conversion was conducted by Elbe, working with Russia's Tupolev design bureau. This is the company's second contract deriving from OSCE treaties, the first having been the scrapping of 140 Mikoyan Mig-21 fighters, which was completed in 1993.


Source: Flight International