US Army took delivery of EMARSS-V surveillance aircraft prototype

The U.S. Army took delivery of the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System – Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (EMARSS-V) surveillance aircraft prototype at the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC)’s Hagerstown, Maryland facility on June 30.

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US Army took delivery of EMARSS V surveillance aircraft prototype 01 EMARSS-V surveillance aircraft prototype (Picture source: Steve McCool, SEMA Engineer, Fixed Wing Program Office)

The U.S. Army Contracting Command – Redstone, on behalf of the Fixed Wing Project Office, awarded a contract to SNC for the modification of one EMARSS-V aircraft as a deliverable prototype in Sept. 2019. During the $5 million, seven-month integration effort, a number of systems were integrated to enhance performance, increase safety and improve the aircraft’s ability to operate in a near-peer environment.

"The EMARSS-V prototype, with its modifications, is a lighter, more powerful aircraft. It increases the Army's capabilities to use fixed wing intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance platforms in more diverse environments", said Col. James DeBoer, Fixed Wing Project Manager. "The modified EMARSS-V aircraft has more powerful engines which allow for better performance at higher elevations and hotter temperatures during takeoff. It also has the ability to operate out of a wider range of airfields because it uses less runway for takeoff. A larger fuel capacity allows this aircraft to stay airborne longer for its ISR missions. With these improvements, the EMARSS-V prototype will allow Army aviation to more effectively support Joint All-Domain Operations/Multi-Domain Operations."

The EMARSS-V aircraft received a modernization upgrade and completed its final flight testing on May 27.

The modernization upgrade provided the aircraft with an Anti-Jam/Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module Global Positioning System, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast functionality with encrypted APX-119 Mode 5 Level 2 transponder, improved situational awareness with the existing Blue Force Tracker-2, incorporation of the Avalex ACM9454 cockpit management unit and the installation of the mission enhancement kit that will result in increased safety, greater mission capability, increased mission performance and fewer basing limitations.

US Army took delivery of EMARSS V surveillance aircraft prototype 02 The EMARSS-V aircraft received a modernization upgrade and completed its final flight testing on May 27 (Picture source: Steve McCool, SEMA Engineer, Fixed Wing Program Office)

The installed mission enhancement kit is comprised of higher performing PT6A-67A engines, lightweight composite propellers, a lightweight lithium-ion battery and an anti-lock braking system. The MEK reduces aircraft weight while increasing takeoff performance in high/hot environments. In addition, the anti-lock braking system reduces takeoff field length which increases the number of suitable airfields where this modernized EMARSS-V can operate. Operational data from the EMARSS fleet indicates that an aircraft’s endurance is reduced by approximately two hours when using current engines in high/hot conditions. The increased capability provided by the MEK will allow unit commanders to increase fuel capacity which in turn increases the aircraft’s overall endurance during critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

The EMARSS-V prototype will be inducted at Fort Hood, Texas with the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion in July and then ferried to the L3 Harris facility in Greenville, Texas for scheduled maintenance. The aircraft will then ferry to the Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Flight Activity in Lakehurst, New Jersey to undergo calibration and testing of the signals intelligence system. Upon completion of testing, this enhanced EMARSS-V will make its return to the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion for force generation and future operational deployments.

For this effort, PM Fixed Wing utilized an Other Transaction Authority contract vehicle for the first time. An OTA offers a streamlined method for carrying out prototype projects and transitioning successes into follow-on production.

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