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Danish air force planning Challenger 604 mid-life upgrade

The Royal Danish Air Force is preparing to embark on a mid-life upgrade of its Bombardier Challenger 604 maritime patrol aircraft, which is expected to be implemented by 2018.

The four-strong fleet of Danish 604s will receive a series of modifications including a new downlink and a multirole radar capable of carrying out surface surveillance, weather monitoring and oil slick detection, as well as a new cockpit to the Challenger 605 standard.

A new aircraft is not on the cards due to the requirement for a new fighter to replace Denmark’s Lockheed Martin F-16s, which is currently the procurement funding priority.

Final discussions are under way to decide on financing and how the upgrade will manifest. Denmark has sought information from Bombardier, but it is not clear if the airframer would be expected to lead the upgrade programme.

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The Danish 604s currently boast satellite communications, radios, the Telephonics OceanEye APS-143 maritime surveillance radar, an automatic identification system and a FLIR Systems Star Safire electro-optical/infrared sensor.

The OceanEye was expected to be able to monitor oil slicks but was unable to do so, so the air force procured one side-looking aperture radar for this role.

“We have found ourselves in a situation in which we didn’t have the radar we needed,” Maj Jacob Bos, airstaff from Defense Command Denmark, told the SMi ISR conference in London. “The surveillance radar isn’t reliable enough, nor is the FLIR, and our consoles don’t support flexibility, so we are looking at this mid-life upgrade for the Challenger.”

Of the four 604s in the air force’s inventory, three are currently utilised in the MPA role and one in a VIP and transport configuration, according to Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database.

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