Powerful air-to-surface surveillance capability is being packed into ever smaller and more affordable airframes.

The Diamond DA42 MPP (multi-purpose platform), an airborne surveillance version of the sleek turbo-diesel-powered twin, is being used by Canadian satellite communications equipment manufacturer EMS Satcom

EMS has teamed up with Austrian mobile satellite specialist Scotty, and has equipped the DA42 MPP with an under-nose infra-red/visible-light camera turret from Zeiss of Germany; EMS Satcom’s HSD-400 64kbit/sec satcoms transceiver; and a lightweight operator console. The entire installation weighs just 47kg.

At 11.00 and 15.00 every day, visitors can see live video from a DA42 MPP airborne in Austrian airspace. Imagery from the sensor package is being delivered to the ground via the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband satellite system and then passed to a portable terminal on the EMS stand by means of a terrestrial broadband IP link.

 Scotty - Jeremy Pengelly

The operator sits behind the pilots in the four-seat aircraft. There are two screens, one showing real-time images from the turret, the other those that are being simultaneously passed over the satellite link to commanders on the ground. The system can handle both lower-resolution real-time imagery and MPEG-4-quality video, the latter transmitted to the ground on a store-and-forward file-transfer basis.

“This is the first time we have had an opportunity to demonstrate this capability to a Farnborough attendance,” says Scotty’s Jeremy Pengelly. “Representatives of the British Ministry of Defence are booked to call this week, and we have also attracted the interest of UK police forces and emergency services.”

Six MPPs have been ordered by the Venezuelan Government for border patrols, while the African nation of Niger has contracted for two. Both customers are discussing the possibility of further orders, according to Pengelly.

Source: Flight International