The $61 million contract awarded to L3 Communications Corporation, Integrated Systems Group of Greenville, Texas on August 22nd 2014 will see 2 Hawker Beechcraft Super King Air 350 aircraft be modified with the addition of “… sensors, a ground exploitation cell, line-of-sight and satellite communications datalinks, along with a robust voice communications suite”, according to the US Air Force MC-12W description. The system integration project, part of Foreign Military Sales contract with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is stated to conclude by December 31st 2015.
The ISR adaptation of the C-12 cargo aircraft (military designation for the Hawker Beechcraft Super King Air 350 and the -ER Extended Range version) has a range of 1,500 nautical miles (2,00 nm for the ER version), cruising at 312 knots at an altitude of 35,000 feet. It is flown by two pilots and staffed by another 2 sensor operators. The aircraft employment as a real time Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance platform gained popularity complementing unmanned aircraft systems in counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq from June 10, 2009 when first delivered to the 362nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, according to defense-update web site. That article went on to describe some of the aircraft systems and capabilities further:
“..a Wescam MX-15D EO multisensor payload providing full-motion video in day and night, through the color zoom video camera, high magnification camera and thermal imaging system, the payload also accommodates a laser rangefinder, laser target designator and laser illuminator. The electronic warfare segment on the aircraft comprises SIGINT and jamming system, enabling the operator to intercept and combat adversary communications.”
SAS announced today the closing of deal with Chinese bank BOCOM to acquire 4 new Airbus 330 Enhanced aircraft. The Sale & Lease Back contract agreement with BOCOM spells out how the Scandinavian carrier will initially sell the 4 aircraft to the bank but still take them in its long haul fleet, on a 12-year operating lease basis with the bank. BOCOM in this context is more accurately referred to as the Bank of Communications Financial Leasing (JY Aviation); the leasing arm of Shanghai-based Bank of Communications founded in 1908. As a subsidiary of BOCOM International Holdings Company Limited, BOCOM International serves as the international investment banking and securities firm, one of China’s top 3 IPO underwriter. The BOCOM aircraft leasing business is one of three large Chinese aircraft leasing firm to recently having set up an office in Ireland. There it manages a growing fleet of 21 aircraft soon to be joined by another 20 this year alone. The other two being ICBC Leasing and CDB Leasing (Sinoaero).
The value of the purchase is said to be around $1 billion. These 4 aircraft are part of major fleet restructuring effort announced by the carrier in June 2013 when it ordered 8 A350-900 as well as the 4 A330 Enhanced. The overall $3.3 billion order package has maintained an option for 6 A350-900 while also making provisions for cabin upgrades on the 3 A330 and 4 A340-300 aircraft that currently form the backbone of SAS long haul fleet. It is to be noted that the main objective of the order was to gradually retire the less fuel-efficient four-engined A340 from service as soon as feasible.
The A330-300 Enhanced versus the A330-300.
The A330-300 normally seats 295 passengers when configured in 3 classes and 335 in two. It has a length of 63.6m (208 ft 11 in) and uses the 222 inches fuselage cross section shared among the A330/A340 and now A350 family.
The Enhanced version will introduce by the middle of the year 2015 a newer Higher Maximum Take Off Weight variant of the A330 family brought up to 242 Tonnes from 235 Tonnes originally. From an operational standpoint the aircraft which also burns 2% less fuel benefits from an increase of more than 5 tonnes of payload. By carrying more fuel, the -Enhanced shows 500 nm more legs making it capable of pushing past the 6,050 nm (11,200 km.) range. The aircraft retains a pair of either RR Trent 700, GE CF6-80E1 or PW4000 -series engine all advertised with thrust between 68,000 and 72,000 lb (303 to 320 kN) slst (sea level static thrust).