Raytheon Aircraft is stepping up its efforts to secure a role for a special-mission, extended-range version of its Beechcraft King Air 350 – the 350ER – in the UK’s new integrated flying training system.

Raytheon last week showed the aircraft – which was unveiled at June’s Paris air show – to representatives of the Defence Procurement Agency, armed forces and the three consortia bidding to deliver aircrew training under the 25-year UK Military Flying Training System (MFTS) programme.

Raytheon is pitching the aircraft for the rear-crew and multi-engine pilot training requirement.

The 350ER, which begins flight testing at the end of the year and was making just its third flight, is fitted with a belly radome and Raytheon Systems surveillance equipment. But the radome has been designed to be large enough to “accommodate any radar the customer wants”, says John Brauneis, vice-president special missions.

The 350ER – which will also be offered as a business aircraft – is already certificated for an increased maximum take-off weight of 7,480kg (16,500lb), giving an approximate extra payload of 545kg, a 7h endurance and range of 4,260km (2,300nm).

Raytheon exhibited six other types at the briefing at the Oxford site of its UK dealer NAC Aviation: the standard 350, Beech­craft King Air B200 and 1900, Premier I, and Hawker 400XP and 800XP.

Three consortia are competing to become “training system partner” for the tri-service MFTS programme: Ascent (Lockheed Martin and VT Aerospace), Sterling (Boeing and Thales) and Vector (Kellogg Brown & Root, EG&G/Lear Siegler and Bombardier). A preferred bidder announcement is due next year with initial service provision beginning in 2007.


Source: Flight International