Beechcraft Reconnaissance Planes for Egypt
June 1 /11: Raytheon Co. in McKinney, TX receives a $24 million firm-fixed-price contract award to buy 2 used commercial Beechcraft airliners, then refurbish the airframes, add special mission equipment and components, and cover spare parts, accessories and other material and services for the Arab Republic of Egypt. Work will be performed in McKinney, TX, and Egypt, with an estimated completion date of July 31/12. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by the US Army’s AMCOM Contracting Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-11-C-0084).
Raytheon spinoff HawkerBeechcraft’s King Air twin-turboprops have found a niche as affordable, long endurance manned reconnaissance airplanes. Used commercial aircraft are likely to be the King Air B200/ 300, which have been bought and refurbished for Canadian use under the MARSS program, rather than the new King Air 350ERs in use by Iraq and the USA. Malta operates King Air B200s as maritime patrol craft, and private firms like ASSI (SkyEye 350) and Dynamic Aviation own King Air ISR(Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance) planes that are available for lease.
In all of these variants, a belly “canoe” fits the required surveillance gear, which can involve surface-viewing radars, surveillance and targeting turrets like Raytheon’s own MTS, and more. Inside, workstations in the plane receive the data; depending on the communications gear and available bandwidth, that information can be sent on to command sites. The net effect is similar to a Predator level UAV, but with more sensors and more flexibility, in exchange for less endurance in the air.