Abu Dhabi Autonomous System Investments (ADASI), a subsidiary of Tawazun, has signed a deal with Piaggio Aero for the development of a new special missions surveillance aircraft, the Piaggio Aero MPA multirole patrol aircraft.

The comprehensive contract covers the complete development of the MPA aircraft, including the roll-out of two prototypes with first flight scheduled for 2014. Piaggio is part-owned by Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth investment company, Mubadala.

Sweden's Saab has been selected as the systems supplier, having joined forces with Piaggio to develop and integrate a full suite of sophisticated airborne sensors and surveillance systems. In a statement, the Italian company said Saab's proven experience in special mission equipment will allow Piaggio to deliver to ADASI the most advanced and cost-effective aircraft for surveillance missions.

 Piaggio Aero MPA Avanti

Tim Bicheno-Brown/Piaggio Aero

The Piaggio Aero MPA is an evolution of the Piaggio Aero P-180 Avanti II platform. It will feature an enhanced airframe, increased maximum take-off weight, additional fuel tanks and a new aerodynamic configuration with a reinforced wing, providing an increased surface and higher aspect ratio. It will be able to fly up to 41,000ft (12,500m), with an endurance of 10 plus flight hours, a maximum range of 3,300nm (6,100km) and a cruise speed of 350kt (648km/h).

The MPA is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, with a loitering speed both at low and high altitude, coupled with a 350ktas cruise speed for maximum mission flexibility. Its operating ceiling of up to 41,000ft allows for high altitude operations with an endurance of more than 10 hours.

The aircraft will be able to perform surveillance of broad areas for more than 6 hours at low altitudes in coastal or offshore waters.

The MPA's first application, developed with Saab, will be dedicated to maritime patrol. A high-performance search radar and electro-optic/infrared sensors suite will be integrated into a mission management system to allow for a wide variety of missions.

Source: Flight Daily News