US aerospace/defence firm Boeing's MSA (Maritime Surveillance Aircraft) demonstrator has made its first flight, with highly successful results. According to Boeing officials, all mission requirements were met and the aircrews' experience was positive throughout the flight, which lasted four hours.
The first MSA flight preceded further planned sorties, aimed at establishing the aircraft as the stepping stone toward a future effective, low-cost maritime surveillance platform capable of engaging in border security, anti-piracy, search and rescue and more.
The MSA resulted from a tie-up between Boeing and Field Aviation. The demonstrator aircraft is essentially an adapted Bombadier CL-604 Challenger business jet, with systems enhancements integrated to modify it for the naval arena.
First MSA Flight
"We accomplished everything we set out to achieve", Field Aviation's Craig Tylski explained in Boeing's first MSA flight press release. "The aerodynamic performance was right on the money and even with the additional aerodynamic shapes, such as the radome, the demonstrator performed like a normal aircraft. The control and handling were excellent."
Off the back of this flight and future test sorties, Boeing will now move forward to the final MSA design, which will be based on the CL-605 aircraft. Included will be an AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) multi-mode radar, Electronic Support Measures and various sensors. The same technologies also feature in the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance platform, which made its first flight in April 2009.
Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft
In essence, the whole Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft concept involves a type that's smaller and cheaper than the Poseidon but possesses many of its capabilities.
The CL-604 Challenger is a variant of the civilian Challenger 600 series originally developed by Canadair. Several nations' air arms operate it as a multirole transport aircraft including those of Denmark, Canada and Germany. First flown in 1978, the Challenger has a top speed of 529 miles per hour and a maximum range of 3,959 miles.