Jan.20, 2014 By Arie Egozi – FG
Tel Aviv - The Israeli navy will continue to rely on a mix of manned and unmanned systems for maritime patrol missions .
Two years ago the Israeli air force, together with the navy, decided to prolong the service life of their jointly-operated Israel Aerospace Industries Westwind 1124 maritime patrol aircraft. The business jet-based type is equipped with advanced sensors, mostly produced by IAI's Elta Systems subsidiary, including a maritime search radar.
Recently, the services decided to extend the Westwind's use further, by performing fuselage and wing treatment work and upgrading its sensors.
Over the last few years the Israeli military has used IAI Heron unmanned air systems in parallel with its manned maritime patrol aircraft, with the intention of replacing the capabilities provide by the latter, aged type. However, an Elta source says that while the Heron is capable of performing many such missions, the long-endurance design lacks the speed needed to perform some other tasks.
According to the company source, the Westwind fleet will be kept flying until a suitable manned substitute has been identified. Potential options include the Gulfstream G550 – a model previously adapted by Elta for use in the airborne early warning and control system and ground surveillance applications, and the Bombardier Q400.
The Israeli air force has an active fleet of three maritime patrol-adapted Westwinds. These were manufactured between 1971 and 1975, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets database.