The US Army has ordered an additional six Bombardier (de Havilland Canada) Dash-8-315 turboprops to serve as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform. The purchase is being made through the Dynamic Aviation Group of Bridgewater, Virginia, and is worth 39.2 million dollar including modification into the so-called Saturn Arch and Desert Owl configurations.
Both plane configurations can be used to detect mines on the battlefield, which is a very handy feature with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) put into use by many fighting groups in US Army operation zones.
The Saturn Arch Program began in 2010, aimed to use sensor technology to help finding IEDs in Afghanistan, focusing on changes in the landscape which might give locations away where opponents have dug in the “home-made” bombs. Desert Owl started on a Beechcraft King Air 200T, combining radar and other imagery in all-weather conditions to detect changes on the ground.
The Dynamic Aviation Group already provides the US Army with 30 ISR aircraft, including at least four Dash-8-300s in either Saturn Arch or Desert Owl set-up as well as three Beechcraft King Air 200s as Communications Electronic Attack with Surveillance And Reconnaissance (CEASAR) platform for operations in Afghanistan. In 2013 the Dynamic Aviation Group added 17 Dash 8s to its fleet of 150 aircraft.
Karl Stoltzfus started the Dynamic Aviation Group in 1974, when he bought a Bridgewater airstrip and started providing aerial spraying and air tanker operations. Apart from at least 20 or 21 Dash 8s, the company has 20 King Air 200s and a hundred similar Beechcraft U-21s.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the US Army and the Dynamic Aviation Group
Featured image: A Dynamic Aviation Group Bombardier Dash 8-300 in US Army service (Image (CC) Mark Harkin)