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At the 2019 Paris Air Show, Viking Air Limited of Victoria, B.C. has revealed its Guardian 400 special mission variant of the Series 400 Twin Otter at its first public event. This also marks the launch of the global demonstration tour announced by Viking in late May.
Featuring a pixellated camouflage paint scheme, the Guardian 400 demonstrator aircraft flew from Viking’s corporate headquarters in Western Canada at the beginning of June to Airborne Technologies’ facilities in Wiener Neustadt, Austria for further modifications prior to the Paris Air Show.
Airborne Technologies, Viking’s principal partner for the tour, is missionizing the Guardian 400 demonstrator aircraft. It has designed and manufactured the wing-mounted SCAR pods that house the aircraft’s sensor equipment and its Airborne LINX flexible surveillance architecture solution that integrates all sensors and communications systems on board the aircraft with an intuitive user interface.
The sensor equipment installed on the Guardian 400 demonstrator aircraft has been supplied by key tour sponsors, including Hensoldt, Leonardo and Sentient. Hensoldt has supplied the Argos EO/IR imaging turret with multi-spectral HDTV camera, mega-pixel HD thermal imager, laser range finder, multi-mode auto tracker, and remote image bus (RIB) video feed for display on the cockpit MFD and/or crew workstation.
An Osprey Radar system, supplied by Leonardo, is a low size weight and power (SWaP) active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar surveillance system that features 120-degree forward swath and true multi-mission capability for high performance maritime and land surveillance. The Osprey system also provides high-resolution ground mapping, small and low speed ground target indication, and air-to-air surveillance, tracking and intercept capability.
Sentient has supplied the visual detection and ranging (VidAR) camera system complete with Kestrel moving target indication (MTI). The VidAR is a wide area optical search system consisting of high-resolution sensors coupled with onboard automation software capable of detecting small objects and dramatically extending aircraft coverage during search and rescue missions. The Kestrel MTI continuously detects moving objects while increasing the surveillance area by a factor of 20, thereby reducing operator fatigue and increasing reliable detection over long missions.
CarteNav Solutions, also a key contributor to the Guardian 400 demonstrator, is providing its AIMS mission system software that processes and manages imagery and data from the various sensors to enhance situational awareness and improve mission effectiveness with real time, geo-referenced local operating pictures.
The Guardian 400 prototype will also feature an Airborne Technologies’ tactical workstation with high-definition touchscreen monitors, data/voice/video recorder, mission management unit (MMU), mission radio communications, intuitive hand controller for MCU & SLR camera targeting and IKHANA ergonomic operators mission seat for optimized crew comfort. The prototype will also be equipped with Viking conformal bubble windows, left and right NATO standard wing-mounted hard points by IKHANA, Thunder Bay Aviation stretcher racks, and an aft lavatory for crew comfort.
“We have been engaged in the special missions arena for many years, and have put together a team of partners, led by Airborne Technologies, with extensive experience integrating flexible architecture solutions that are customized to suit each customer’s specific mission requirements,” said Robert Mauracher, Viking executive vice-president, Sales & Marketing.
AeroSimulators Group is providing simulation support for the Guardian 400 aircraft demonstration at the Paris International Airshow as well as providing additional simulation support during the world demonstration tour.
Immediately following the Paris International Airshow, the Guardian 400 demonstrator aircraft will return to Airborne’s facility in Austria and be made available for European prospects to view until mid-September when the aircraft embarks on the next leg of its world tour.
The Guardian 400 world demonstration tour encompasses detailed briefings and demonstration flights scheduled for Austria, Italy, Algeria, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Russia, United States, and Canada. A tour extension to Central and South America is also under consideration to commence in the fall of 2020.
The Guardian 400 demonstrator aircraft will also be available for viewing in conjunction with the 2019 Dubai Airshow, 2020 Singapore Airshow, and the 2020 CANSEC Defence and Security Show in Ottawa, Canada.
Viking developed the Guardian 400 in response to foreign military and government agency demand for a medium-range maritime patrol, SAR and critical infrastructure platform based on the new Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft. Designed as an economical force multiplier for 21st century surveillance and security requirements, the Guardian 400’s low acquisition and operating costs combined with its modern, flexible sensor architecture allows it to be customized to suit operators’ financial and mission requirements.
The Guardian 400 is the only special mission aircraft capable of operating on five different types of landing gear, including amphibious or straight floats, wheel skis, intermediate flotation gear for off strip operations, and/or standard wheel gear, allowing the Guardian 400 the unique opportunity to provide on-site interdiction or rescue while conducting surveillance.
The Guardian 400’s robust design, minimal maintenance requirements, and exceptional short-field performance capabilities make it ideally suited for specialized government operations in extreme environments. Certified under the restricted category, the Guardian 400’s increased take-off weight and ultra-long range wing tanks allow for operational sorties over 10 hours in duration.
Trusted by the governments of Peru, Panama, the United States, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam, over thirty Twin Otter Guardian 400 aircraft have now entered service in various roles, including maritime surveillance, search & rescue, parachute operations, pipeline monitoring, drug enforcement, medevac, and critical infrastructure support.