Three of four Canadair (Bombardier) CL-604 Challenger jet aircraft the Royal Danish Air Force (Flyvevåbnet) uses for fishery patrol & passenger transport, will have to be upgraded to keep their value to the task at hand, sources within the Danish Ministry of Defence confirmed.
Only the fourth Challenger that has been purchased recently for VIP flights of the Danish government will not take part in the upgrade. The other three need new radar and sensor equipment plus the Forward Looking Infrared camera for their surveillance role. That role includes the detection of oil spills at sea for which the Challenger’s current equipment, including the Ocean Eye Radar on its belly, is not sufficient. An upgrade of the flight deck is expected as well.
All Challengers fly with Eskadrille 721 (721 Squadron) based at Aalborg Airbase, as are the four Danish C-130J Hercules airlifters. The CL-604s not only perform patrol duties over Danish waters of mainland Europe, they fly out as well to the Faroe Islands and perform long-distance partrols over Greenland, where the Challenger also has search and rescue as a standard task.
The RDAF CL-604 are operated by a crew of 3 or 4, can transport 6 to 8 passengers in VIP seating, or 18 in standard seating. Providing Denmark with a basic medevac flight with patients on stretchers is part of the Challenger’s job.
Swiss Air-Ambulance Rega signed a firm order for three Bombardier Challenger 650 aircraft, to serve as air ambulances. The order is worth 130 million US dollars, including aircraft modifications such as the installation of a medevac interior. The planes are due to say their first “hi!” to the Swiss Alps in 2018.
Rega currently operates three Challenger CL-604 in the air ambulance role, as well as 11 AgustaWestland Da Vinci and 6 Eurocopter (Airbus Helicopters) EC145 choppers. As a privately funded foundation, its mission is to carry out air-rescue operations in Switzerland and to repatriate patients from abroad.
A true intercontinental aircraft with a range in excess of 4,000 nm (7,408 km), the Challenger 650 jet builds on the Challenger 605 aircraft with improved features such as the newly-evolved GE engines offering greater, shorter take-off distance, extra payload capacity and greater range capabilities out of challenging airports. The Challenger 650 jet also features a new flight deck and a completely restyled cabin.
NetJets became the global launch customer for the aircraft, when the first of its 25 ordered Challenger 650 jet was introduced at the National Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (NBAA) in Orlando, Florida, in October 2014.
Today, more than 40 countries operate and are served by variants of Bombardier’s business and commercial aircraft fleets in various missions and specialized applications.
The Czech Air Force keeps its active combat fleet on 56 aircraft in 2015, the Czech Ministry of Defence acknowledged.
Spearhead of the force are 14 SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripen multi-role fighters, supported by 25 indigenous-developed Vodochody L-159 ALCAs. This brings the total fixed-wing combat aircraft fleet to 39. Closer to the ground 17 Mil Mi-24 and Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters provide a key function on the battlefield, giving the Czech a strenght of 56 aircraft.
Besides the combat aircraft the Czech Air Force in 2015 keeps 9 L-39 advanced training aircraft, 17 transport and observation aircraft (L-410, Yak-40, CL-601 Challenger, A319CJ, CASA/Airbus C295M), plus 35 unarmed transport helicopters (Mi-8, Mi-17 / Mi-171S, W-3A Sokol).
Source: Ministerstvo Obrany České Republiky (MOCR)
The Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) – popularly called the Poseidon Lite – is ready to show what it can do, the American aircraft manufacturer said on 22 January 2015.
Fitted onto a Bombardier Challenger 604 is a basic version of the sensors and capabilities of the Boeing 737 derivative P-8 Poseidon, of which the US Navy, the Indian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy are purchasing up to 137 aircraft.
The aircraft went through its baseline ground, flight and system testing. The process included hundreds of scenarios to confirm performance of the Automatic Identification System, radar, Electro-Optical Infrared camera, communications radios and data links, Communications Intelligence System and the Electronic Support Measures.
Potential customers can choose a wide variety of aircraft to fit the MSA-platform into and are not bound to the Challenger 604. However, by using the Bombardier jet Boeing does somewhat preach the reliability of the jets of the Canadian aircraft manufacturer. The ‘Poseidon Lite’ made its first flight in February 2014.
British aviation enthousiasts already mentioned it earlier this week through the social media channels, and now it has been officially confirmed by a UK MoD official. The United States Navy currently flies operational missions with at least one of its Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) out of RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
Thereby the American plane is now more or less the new “Nimrod”, with the British armed forces lacking sufficient anti-submarine capabilities since the retirement of the last of the 35 Hawker Siddeley / BAe Systems Nimrod MR2s at nearby RAF Kinloss on 31 March 2010. The planned introduction of the Nimrod MR4 was scrapped due to budgetary reasons.
In November the lack of underwater detection capabilities came into an alarming light, when London had to ask three fellow NATO nations to help search for a suspected submarine off the coast of western Scotland – a month after Sweden was searching for its “Red October”. Already then the US Navy dispatched a pair of its P-3Cs, supplemented by their Canadian cousin – a RCAF CP-140 Aurora – and a French Navy Dassault Atlantique 2.
A best quick fix for the British lack of MPAs might actually be for the Royal Navy to buy second-hand American P-3Cs from the same type that is now operating out of RAF Lossiemouth. The US Navy is slowly converting to the new Boeing P-8A Poseidon MPA, meaning many P-3 will soon be obsolete. Japan reportedly has offered its new but somewhat troubled and likely more expensive Kawasaki P-1, but insiders think there is no chance that London will go for that option.
The possible alternative is the use of a smaller airplane like the RAF’s R1 Sentinel, a Bombardier Global Express business jet stuffed with battlefield surveillance and intelligence gathering hard- and software. A likely candidate would then be Boeing’s Maritime Surveillance Platform, a light version of the P-8 cramped into a Bombardier Challenger 605 but adaptable to other aircraft.
For now it is the US Navy that provides the United Kingdom with a limited submarine detection and hunting force. For how long that will be is still undetermined.