MONS Correspondent Marty Kauchak files this end-of-the-day report from the Air Force Association-sponsored Air, Space and Cyber Conference at National Harbor, Maryland.
Bombardier has over 1,000 specialised aircraft in service around the world and civil aircraft in more than 70 countries. It is of no surprise that Nicolas Poirier-Quesnel, Manager for Communications & Public Affairs at Bombardier Business Aircraft, noted his company is at this year’s AFA, “to proudly showcase various aircraft platforms that are ideally suited to elite military and government agencies operations. The capabilities of our Specialized Aircraft include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, maritime patrol and surveillance, search and rescue, firefighting, medical evacuation and executive transport.”
The company’s GLOBAL 6000 aircraft are already in the US Air Force inventory as the E-11A, part the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) programme. The company spokesperson added: “This aircraft was selected for its high service ceiling (up to 51,000 ft. [155,455 m]), flight duration (up to 12 hours) and low operating costs compared to other aircraft in its class. So far, the BACN fleet has logged more than 84,000 flight hours and made more than 11,000 landings.” The GLOBAL platform was also chosen by the British government for the Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) ground surveillance and reconnaissance programme (a model of the modified ASTOR aircraft is on display at AFA). Poirier-Quesnel continued: “And Saab’s special-mission GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) and SWORDFISH maritime patrol aircraft are both based on the GLOBAL 6000 business jet. Our CHALLENGER aircraft operate, for example, as an air ambulance platform for Rega in Switzerland, and as maritime search-and-rescue aircraft for the Hong Kong government, among others.”
The corporate spokesperson was asked about the business case for investing in Bombardier aircraft for defence and related mission. “For over 50 years, governments have preferred Bombardier aircraft to perform military surveillance, intelligence and utility activities, which speaks to the proven quality of our products. Among the advantages of using off-the-shelf platforms for special missions are a reduced development time and faster time to market, civil certification, reliability, ease of maintenance and an international customer support network. Governments can also benefit from Bombardier’s engineering and flight test experience, and its well-established relationships with top industry mission integrators.”
And beyond that is the company’s wide array of products. “The Q-400 aircraft, for example, is part of a long line of DASH-8 aircraft recognised for their efficiency, reliability and low operating cost. The CHALLENGER multi-role variant provides a combination of sensors and equipment to efficiently conduct multiple missions. And our state-of-the-art business jets, such as the GLOBAL family of aircraft, are more nimble and cost-efficient than larger aircraft and can be configured for multiple uses,” the spokesperson noted. “Bombardier Business Aircraft’s worldwide network offers comprehensive capabilities, and delivers the highest quality service for bombardier aircraft by the industry’s best-trained technicians.”
Bombardier has enjoyed long-term relationships with the top aircraft parts suppliers in the industry, including Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, GE and Pratt & Whitney. For specialised aircraft, Bombardier works with a variety of mission integrators including Northrop Grumman and Saab. “We’re also currently working with Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Sierra Nevada Corporation on the JSTARS [Joint Surveillance Targeting and Attack Radar System] recap bid,” Poirier-Quesnel emphasised. “We are putting forth our GLOBAL 6000 aircraft, of which we are extremely proud, as the ideal platform for missionised flight and for the JSTARS program in particular, in terms of size, cost and performance. With superior wing flexibility and a higher wing loading, the GLOBAL 6000 aircraft provides a smoother ride than the competition. On missionised flights, this can minimise crew fatigue and extend the life of mission equipment. Our flexible wing is nevertheless strong enough to support modifications.”
And with regard to AFA, Poirier-Quesnel concluded, “at this conference, we are focused on growing what is an already strong relationship between Bombardier and the US military. We will be showcasing our various aircraft fleets and their range of specialised capabilities – military or otherwise – and also showcasing in particular our GLOBAL family of aircraft as an asset for the US Air Force.”