The new Iraqi air force has taken delivery of two Seeker observation and surveillance aircraft from Jordan's Seabird Aviation. To be based in the Gulf port city of Basra, the aircraft will be used to patrol main supply routes, pipelines and powerlines, which are frequent targets for attack by insurgents. The order for the two Seeker SB7L-360s, fitted with an electro-optical surveillance suite supplied by FLIR Systems of the USA, was placed by Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in June, shortly before the CPA's powers were transferred to the Iraqi government. The order, which includes training and support from within Jordan, is valued at over $2 million.

The Seeker combines a helicopter-type cabin offering high all-round visibility with a conventional fixed-wing body, with the engine and propeller mounted above and behind the overhead wing. It is powered by a Lycoming O-360 engine derated to produce 170hp (125kW).

"It's a very strong aircraft, but also very light, with an all-up mass of around 900kg [1,980lb]," says Seabird's chairman, Alec Mackenzie, adding: "Because it is designed for remote-field operation and can use low- grade fuel, the Seeker can land on roads or tracks and fill up with super-unleaded at a petrol station, making it ideal for convoy escort and long-range missions."



Source: Flight International