HUGHES AIRCRAFT IS providing the US Army's three RC-7B Airborne Reconnaissance Low (ARL) surveillance aircraft with moving-target-indicator/synthetic-aperture-radar (MTI/SAR) sensors.

The additional intelligence-gathering capability is intended, to partially offset the retirement of aging Grumman OV-1 Mohawk surveillance aircraft, now used in South Korea. The US Army speeded the contract award after the US Congress in 1995 voiced concern that the retirement would reduce monitoring of North Korean military forces.

The ARL aircraft - a militarised de Havilland Dash 7 - is being modified by California Microwave to perform battlefield surveillance. As part of the ARL-Multifunction programme, all three aircraft will be capable of image, communications and signal-intelligence missions. Other sensors include a forward-looking infra-red system. The US Army may re-engine the DHC-7 with the LHTEC T-800.o engines. The aircraft is now powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turbo-props.

Hughes says that two high-resolution MTI/SAR systems were ordered for integration with the RC-7Bs. A similar system is installed, on the Teledyne Ryan Tier II Plus Global Hawk high-altitude long-endurance unmanned air vehicle.

Source: Flight International