Paul Lewis/WASHINGTON DC
Embraer plans to develop an armed maritime patrol (MPA) version of its RJ-145 regional jet on the back of an expected launch order from the Mexico for six aircraft.
The proposed EMB-145 MPA would be closely modelled on the modified airframe of the remote sensing (RS) version of the jet, being developed as part of Brazil's SIVAM Amazonian surveillance programme. It would feature a different sensor suite, however.
The MPA would retain the EMB-145RS' belly-mounted radome, but would be equipped with a 360í maritime surveillance radar in place of the ground-mapping McDonald-Dettwiller synthetic aperture radar. A decision is pending between the Raytheon Series 2000 Seavue and the Telephonics APG-143 radars.
The EMB-145 MPA would retain the RS version's FLIR Systems AAQ-22 Star Safire forward looking infrared radar, housed in an undernose-mounted turret. The cabin would be similarly configured, with the option of three to six forward facing operator stations. The aft cabin could hold up to six auxiliary fuel tanks.
Embraer is also looking at installing ventral hardpoints to carry Kongsberg Penguin-sized air-to-surface missiles. Earlier plans to fit underwing hardpoints were deemed too expensive. For directional stability, the MPA would almost certainly feature the same ventral strakes as those fitted to the RS and Ericsson Erieye-equipped EMB-145SA airborne early warning aircraft.
Sources confirm that Mexico is the primary driver behind the MPA development, but Embraer describes as "premature" reports that the country has signed an order for three, plus options. Mexico had also been looking at an MPA version of the Saab 340 turboprop.
Meanwhile, as Flight International closed for press, Embraer announced that Venezuela has reselected the AMX-T as its future advanced trainer/light strike aircraft, after the resubmission of bids. The deal covers eight aircraft.
Source: Flight International