Raytheon Aircraft plans to have completed most of the necessary flight-testing of its beefed-up Beechcraft King Air 350 special mission aircraft (SMA) by the end of this year. It could have one ready for delivery by mid-2004 if a customer appeared tomorrow, Sherry Lee Grady, Raytheon Aircraft's vice-president, government business, said at the show yesterday.

The programme to increase the King Air 350 SMA's capabilities was announced last month. Among changes to the aircraft are an increase in MTOW from 15,000lb to 16,500lb, longer time on station and the ability to carry a wider range of equipment.

Raytheon Aircraft is teaming with the group's space and airborne systems division to design accommodation for the HISAR and SeaVue reconnaissance systems.

HISAR integrates a range of off-the-shelf subsystems to meet individual customers' needs, while SeaVue is a lightweight radar designed to detect small maritime targets in high seas. HISAR is already carried on the smaller King Air 200 SMA.

"Some of our customers have come to us looking to have more payload and cabin volume, plus additional time on target," says Grady. "Recently, especially since 11 September, there is a need to watch borders, particularly maritime borders, more closely. With the 350 you can get 4-6h on station."

Raytheon is also considering providing 'fuel lockers', a type of conformal tank, over the wing roots of the improved aircraft and is looking for a specialist partner to handle that aspect of the design. These would boost mission endurance to 7h.


Source: Flight Daily News