US Army Orders 13 EMARSS King Air 350ER ISR Aircraft

L3 Communications Corporation – Mission Integration Division was awarded an $129.66 million contract on November 23 for 13 Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) aircraft to be equipped with the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) for the US Army. Work will be performed at the company’s facility in Greenville, Texas, with an estimated completion date of November 23, 2019.

Bids were solicited via the Internet with one received, although L3 was the only contractor invited to submit a tender, having been earlier selected as the sole-source provider. An initial $12.849 million in Fiscal 2016 funds was released at the time of the award.

Three different QRC variants are involved in the deal, all based on the Beechcraft King Air 350ER. These are the MC-12W Liberty Project Aircraft (LPA), Constant Hawk-Afghanistan (CH-A) and Tactical Operations-Light Detection and Ranging (TACOP-LIDAR) aircraft.

The MC-12W LPAs (now with the US Army, having until recently been US Air Force assets) will be re-designated as the EMARSS-Multi-Intelligence (EMARSS-M) after modification, while both the CH-A and TACOP-LIDAR variants will be re-designated the EMARSS-GEO Intelligence (EMARSS-G). The overall programme is known as the EMARSS-Follow-On Variant Modifications (EMARSS-FVM), which is intended to bring the aircraft to a configuration similar to the MC-12S EMARSS developed by Boeing. It will, however, also have some additional capabilities.

The initial contract covers a firm order for seven FVM aircraft, with an option for a further four and a second option for the final two. Each of these three batches could include a mix of all three FVM variants, but more precise details have not been specified.

Earlier this year, on March 31, L3 had been awarded a $31.83 million US Army contract to convert a single QRC MC-12W LPA to the EMARSS-M configuration. This was effectively a prototype for the modifications and involves a 12-month design and integration period, followed by six-months of airworthiness and operational testing. This is scheduled to be completed by September 30, 2016. Alan Warnes