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DUBAI: Bombardier bullish on special mission market

Bombardier is optimistic that it can tap into the burgeoning market for special mission aircraft as budget-conscious governments seek to perform multiple roles with a single platform.

The company’s Q400, Global and Challenger models have already found favour with various systems integrators as the basis for maritime patrol, surveillance and command, control and communications aircraft.

Israel Aerospace Industries recently selected the Global 5000 business jet for its ELI-3360 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, and Lockheed has previously chosen a Global to meet the US Air Force’s next-generation JSTARS ground surveillance and control aircraft requirement.

And active Global-based special mission models include the USAF's E-11A battlefield communications platform and the Raytheon Systems Sentinel R1 operated by the Royal Air Force.

Stéphane Villeneuve, vice-president of specialised aircraft at Bombardier, says the airframer has 14 aircraft to choose from, and sees strong demand as requirements begin to converge.

“The versatility and range of our platforms will allow us to propose a multirole aircraft that will fit many bills,” Villeneuve says. “The mission types are well known and are many, and now you’re seeing the convergence of the many.”

Bombardier is even exploring adding in-flight refueling capability on the Global, which has never previously been demonstrated, to meet a JSTARS requirement. "This is something we know we can do for the programme as required. It's not a technical hurdle," Villeneuve says.

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Artist's impression of Q400-based maritime surveillance aircraft.


Villeneuve says the 33m (107ft), twin-turboprop Q400 has also been strongly considered for maritime patrol missions that require regular low flying. IAI’s Elta Systems had even proposed that type as a torpedo-armed replacement for the Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion anti-submarine warfare aircraft.

As an example of the trend toward multi-mission utilisation, Bombardier is supplying a Challenger series aircraft to an undisclosed Asian customer that can conduct search-and-rescue, coastal surveillance, medical evacuation, and VIP transport with the same aircraft.

“The name of the game now it to try and do as much as possible with one aircraft,” he says.

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