Boeing has completed the first test flight of the US Army's first enhanced medium altitude reconnaissance and surveillance system (EMARSS) engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) aircraft at Beechcraft's facility in Wichita, Kansas, US.
Lasting more than four hours, the test flight comprehensively validated the aircraft's aerodynamic handling qualities, systems performance and autopilot functions.
Carried out following ground tests that included a high-speed taxi trial, the testing represents a significant milestone forward on the path to limited user tests and the Milestone C low-rate initial production (LRIP) decision.
Based on a Beechcraft King Air 350ER aircraft, EMARSS is an airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (AISR) system, designed to provide brigade combat teams (BCTs) with the ability to accurately detect and track surface targets day or night, in all weather conditions.
Primarily intended to function as a single platform in support of tactical missions, the manned, medium-altitude aircraft is also capable of contributing to the joint overall AISR constellation by offering connectivity to tactical and national networks in the battlefield.
Scheduled to be assigned to the US Army Intelligence and Security Command's (INSCOM) Aerial Exploitation Battalions (AEB), the aircraft will feature an electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) full-motion video sensor (FMV), communications intelligence collection system, and aerial precision guidance system.
Additional features include line-of-sight tactical and beyond line-of-sight communications suites (LOS/BLOS), as well as a self-protection suite and two operator workstations.
Boeing is currently developing four EMARSS aircraft as part of a two-year EMD contract awarded by the army in December 2010, which also includes options for the development of an additional two aircraft and six LRIP units, as well as supply of logistical support services.
Image: The EMARSS aircraft during its first test flight at Boeing's facility in Kansas, US. Photo: courtesy of Boeing.