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British aviation services provider 2Excel has contracted Leonardo to upgrade two Beechcraft KING AIR aircraft with the Italian company’s latest OSPREY 30 E-scan radars.

The aircraft are operated by Britain’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and are currently fitted with the Leonardo SEASPRAY 7300 E-scan radar, which has proven highly effective during search and rescue (SAR) and border protection missions, according to the companies.

The new second-generation radar comes equipped with Leonardo’s patented small-target detection capability, allowing it to spot shipwrecked individuals in the water at long range, even in the most difficult environmental conditions and sea states. Additionally, it allows MCA crews to identify oil spills and rogue polluters at very long range, day or night. Osprey benefits from all the capabilities of the SEASPRAY family, while adding additional modes and optimised overland and coastal imaging capabilities. This makes it ideally suited to mixed environment operations, such as along the coast.

Traditionally, coastguard aircraft have used radars with restricted fields of view and limited detection capabilities, making searches laborious and resource-intensive. Leonardo’s radars solve these problems. The company is a leader in E-scan, also known as active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology. Using it, crews can lift off, scan 360° and almost instantaneously detect, track and classify hundreds of maritime contacts, allowing crews to quickly task cooperating aircraft to more rigorously search an area of interest. Other E-scan advantages include extremely high reliability, as the radar can continue to operate effectively throughout a mission even if a number of its individual radar modules fail. Customers in 30 countries have selected Leonardo’s E-scan radars including the SEASPRAY and OSPREY families, with the US Navy procuring the OSPREY 30 radar for its FIRE SCOUT unmanned helicopter programme.

Currently equipped with the SEASPRAY radar, the MCA’s KING AIR aircraft will shortly be upgraded to carry the OSPREY 30 AESA system. (Photo via Leonardo)

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