Regular visitors to the Farnborough air show will be getting used to the sight of H3 Aerospace over the next decade.
With a prominent new exhibit adjacent to hall 1, the parent company of H3 Grob Aircraft is promoting its broadening range of capabilities, including its proven G120TP trainer and – in a debut appearance – a special-mission development of the Cessna Caravan.
Grob has spent the last year working on the Icarus adaptation to the high-winged utility type, which adds an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance pod beneath its fuselage – replacing its usual cargo space.
Mission equipment can include a Leonardo Seaspray 3300 surveillance radar and a Hensoldt Argos-II, 406mm (16in) electro-optical/infrared sensor, while the aircraft can accommodate between two and four operator stations. A datalink option enables users to relay information gathered by the aircraft to a ground control station, also developed within the H3 group.
"The beauty is, it's modular and scaleable," says Joerg Dommasch, director H3 Mission Systems. Other payload options could include 3D mapping and hyper-spectral sensors, a signals intelligence package or equipment to support the oil and gas sector.
The German company has already sold a Caravan-based system – which Dommasch notes is free of international traffic in arms regulations restrictions – to an unidentified African military customer. Its next identified platform integration for Icarus is the Beechcraft King Air, he confirms.
"We see a large market," Dommasch says. "There are so many Caravans and King Airs out there, and entities that can't afford to spend $100 million on an ISR aircraft."
Also in the H3 exhibit is a G120TP trainer with a pod-housed surveillance payload, which could be used to support training or operational requirements. Integrated on the starboard wing using an innovative "glove" mount and with a total weight of around 60kg (132lb), this comprises a Trakka Systems TC-300 305mm EO/IR turret, Leonardo PicoSAR lightweight synthetic aperture radar and a line-of-sight downlink.
Meanwhile, H3 Grob Aircraft will be delivering another pair of G120TPs to Wichita Falls, Texas immediately after the show, to support instructor pilot training duties for the US Air Force. Three of the type have already been transferred to the Joint Pilot Academy Group – a venture between the airframer and the Cobra Kai Training School, and test pilot Tom Reinert sees strong potential for further such business in support of the USAF's training needs.