For littoral maritime patrol/ASW and search-and-rescue within India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Indian Navy (IN) and the Indian Coast Guard Service (ICGS) are expected to acquire up to 12 aircraft each.
For meeting the IN’s and ICGS’ requirements, three principal contenders—Alenia Aeronautica’s ATR-72-500MP Surveyor, EADS/CASA’s C-295MPA Persuader and Bombardier Aerospace’s Q-300—are on offer. The ATR-72-500MP Surveyor is already in production to meet a Turkish Navy order for 10 such aircraft. Each such aircraft will be armed with anti-ship cruise missiles and torpedoes for ASuW and ASW missions. They will also be equipped with the THALES-built AMASCOS (Airborne Maritime Situation and Control System) maritime surveillance system, as well as electronic warfare and reconnaissance systems, and will also be used for maritime search-and-rescue (SAR) operations. AMASCOS combines a powerful tactical command sub-system with the latest-generation sensor suites to ensure the success of maritime patrol and surveillance missions that include maritime surveillance (EEZ surveillance, surveillance of shipping, drug interdiction, etc), anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, SAR, electronic intelligence (ELINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), joint littoral warfare operations, and environmental monitoring. AMASCOS’ modular architecture makes it possible to incorporate any combination of sensors, including search radar, FLIR turret, ESM/ELINT and COMINT suite, an acoustic signals processor, magnetic anomaly detector, and data links, as selected by the customer. AMASCOS, together with the THALES-built Ocean Master search radar, has been selected by Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey.
Another optional belly-mounted multi-mode radar being offered for the ATR-72-500MP Surveyor is SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems’ X-band Seaspray 7000E 360° active phased-array fire-control radar. The radar comprises two line replaceable units: the COTS processor and an AESA antenna that are typically at least 25% lighter than their mechanically scanned radar equivalents. AESA technology ensures that failures cause only graceful performance degradation, thus offering a high order of availability improvements, especially in the mean-time-between-critical failures. This effectively makes Seaspray 7000E a fit-and-forget radar, massively reducing the requirement for spares holdings and test equipment, and significantly reducing cost of ownership. Additionally, via a mission software upgrade, the Seaspray 7000E provides a wide range of extended surveillance modes, such as moving target indication and high-resolution ground mapping, or interfaces with guided-weapon systems to provide anti-ship cruise missile mid-course target and guidance information. Direct digital synthesis-generated digital pulse compression waveform supports optimised performance in all modes. The radar has been designed to function over the full spectrum of air, land and sea surveillance operational requirements, including small target and long-range detection, target classification, high-resolution range profiling and inverse synthetic aperture radar imaging. The radar also has weather and navigation modes, multiple target track-while-scan and a sensor fusion capability. Optional modes include high-resolution synthetic aperture radar ground mapping, ground moving target indication, airborne early warning, ESM integration offering high-accuracy angle-of-arrival information, and Identification Friend or Foe integration.
Competing against the ATR-72-500MP is EADS/CASA’s C-295MPA Persuader, which has to date already bagged orders from Chile, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. On March 22, 2001 this aircraft was selected by the United Arab Emirates as the winner in its Shaheen 1 MPA competition. Competing with the C-295 were rival aircraft from Alenia Aeronautica and Bombardier Aerospace. The UAE has since acquired four C-295MPAs, equipped with the FITS (Fully Integrated Tactical System) mission fit developed by EADS/CASA. FITS is a flexible and modular system that has already been selected by the Spanish Air Force and the Portuguese Air Force for its P-3B Orion MP/ASW aircraft upgrade programme. The C-295MPA builds on the track record of EADS/CASA’s earlier CN-235MPA aircraft, which is well established in service with the Irish Air Corps, Indonesian Navy and Chilean Navy. The Chilean Navy last October purchased three C-295MPA Persuaders, with an option for another five. The aircraft’s flight deck is fitted with dual controls for the pilot and co-pilot. The cockpit is equipped with fully digital and integrated TopDeck avionics suite supplied by THALES. The AMLCD displays, including four 152mm x 203mm (6-inch x 8-inch) are compatible with night vision goggles. The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines, each rated at 1,972kW and at 2,177kW with auto-power reserve. The engines drive HS-568F-5 six-bladed composite propellers developed by Hamilton Sundstrand. The aircraft carries a fuel load of 7,700 litres, giving a maximum range of 5,630km.
The FITS mission suite comprises four multi-function consoles and integrates data from sensors including the Raytheon APS-148 SeaVue search radar or ELTA Systems’ EL/M-2022 (V)2 radar (selected by Chile), FLIR turret, daylight and low-level light TV cameras or other sensors. Two heads-up displays can also be fitted as an option. The communications suite includes three UHF/VHF radios, a single or dual HF radio, and an audio control system. The C-295MPA also comes fitted with a cockpit voice recorder, Identification Friend or Foe transponder, flight data recorder (FDR), and an emergency locator transponder. The aircraft is equipped with a dual THALES-built flight management system, controlled through two Multi-function Controller Display Units (MCDU), dual Type ADU 3000 air data computers, dual attitude heading and reference systems, two radar altimeters, and an optional Honeywell ground proximity warning system. Other on-board navigation equipment includes two multi-mode receivers, two automatic direction finders, one direction finder and two distance measuring equipment (DME) units. There are also three possible configurations for long-range and autonomous navigation: twin integrated inertial navigation and global positioning systems (INS/GPS), two GPS or two GPS plus one INS/GPS. The colour weather radar, a Honeywell RDR-I400C, has search, beacon and vertical navigation ground mapping modes. Portuguese Air Force C-295MPAs are fitted with Northrop Grumman’s AN/APN-241 colour weather radar. The aircraft can be fitted with alternative communications and navigational systems to suit the customer country’s operational requirements. Optional equipment includes enhanced terrain collision avoidance system (TCAS), tactical air navigation (TACAN), category II instrument landing system, a microwave landing system and satellite communications. The C-295MPA can also be fitted with Indra’s ALR-300V2B radar warning receiver and BAE Systems’ ANALE-47 chaff/flares dispenser. Each mission sensor component of FITS is controlled by an operator using one of four multi-function consoles. The consoles are linked together via a high-speed LAN with central processors, which facilitate fast processing of all incoming signals. Despite the high level of complexity, the acquisition costs for FITS are low, particularly in view of the fact that commercial hardware, standard interfaces and modular software are used. The CN-235s of the US Coast Guard are also equipped with FITS mission management systems.
The third contender is the Q-300, which has been ordered by the Swedish Coast Guard and comes equipped with a mission sensor suite installed by Field Aviation Company Inc and supplied by L-3 Communications Integrated Systems. The suite comprises a surveillance radar, FLIR turret and and infra-red linescanner. Three such aircraft, designated DHC-8-Q300MSA, are to be delivered by the year’s end. Another operator of this type of aircraft is National Air Support (NAS) of Australia, which in March 2006 ordered five of them on behalf of the Australian Customs. Japan’s Coast Guard selected the Q-300MSA in December 2006, with a requirement for three aircraft. Each such aircraft has a dual-control cockpit with a Honeywell-built Electronic Flight Instrumentation System interfaced to a dual-channel SPZ-8000 digital automatic flight control system, an automatic flight director and autopilot. A flight management system can be fitted as an option. The flight deck can also be fitted with a Flight Dynamics HGS-2000 head-up guidance system to give the aircraft Category IIIA landing/takeoff capability.
The Honeywell avionics suite is the standard fit for the Q-300, and a Rockwell Collins avionics suite can be fitted as an alternative. The aircraft’s navigation suite includes a KNR-806 ADF, KDM-706A DME, Honeywell Gold Crown-3 communications and navigation system, and optional GPS and Primus P-660 colour weather radar. The Q-300 comes equipped with two wing-mounted Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123B turboprop engines, each providing a power level of 1,864kW. The engines drive Hamilton Sundstrand 14SF-23 four-bladed, 3.96-metre-diameter propellers. The propellers are fitted with an electrical de-icing system. The wing-mounted fuel tanks store up to 3,160 litres of usable fuel, and optional auxiliary tanks provide an additional 2,540 litres of fuel, giving a total fuel capacity of 5,700 litres.--Prasun K. Sengupta