The Boeing/Bombardier Challenger 604 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Demonstrator completed its first flight on 28 February 2014 from Toronto Pearson International Airport in Canada, the Boeing company revealed on 5 March.
Also dubbed ‘Poseidon Lite’ the adapted bizjet is meant for naval forces who don’t have the cash to afford themselves a full-scale P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, but like to have some similar capabilities capabilities in a jet powered aircraft for search and rescue, anti-piracy, coastal patrol and border security.
Field Aviation conducted the first four-hour flight. Field Aviation is the Boeing Phantom Works partner that modified the Challenger 604s structure and systems.
Additional airworthiness flights are scheduled for the next two months. Once they are complete, the aircraft will fly to a Boeing facility in Seattle where the MSA mission systems will be installed and tested. Those P-8A based technologies include an Active Electronically Scanned Array multi-mode radar, an Electro/Optical/Infrared sensor, Electronic Support Measures, a Communications Intelligence sensor and Automated Identification System.
The demonstrator varies a bit from the possible future production Poseidon Lite, since Boeing has selected not the 604 but the Challenger 605 as the MSA platform to be. The US Navy recently ordered another 16 full-version P-8A Poseidons. A possibly even more economic competitor could be Saab’s propeller driven Maritime Surveillance Aircraft.