By David Oliver
The central theme of the Special Mission Aircraft department of the Chinese-owned Austrian-based Diamond Aircraft at Le Bourget is Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). This included the new maritime surveillance variant of the twin-engine DA62. Equipped with Leonardo’s Gabbiano Ultra-Light TS Radar and a third-party Electro-Optic (EO/IR) system, integrated with Leonardo’s Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance (ATOS) mission system, the DA62 MSA is Diamond Aircraft’s latest ISR platform.
Another ISR variant, the DA62 MPP undertook a recent sales tour of East Africa. Equipped with the SWE400LE EO/IR camera and a moving map from Trakker, an AIS receiver, Thuraya BLOS SATCOM system and the in-house modified maritime radar, called NEPTUN, it was demonstrated along with Diamond’s Command Compact Ground Station that includes live video transmission from the airborne platform via different data links including META data, voice communications, mission planning and moving map, video management as well as secured connectivity with organisations’ headquarters.
Also showcased at Le Bourget is an ISR variant of the smaller twin, the DA MPP Guardian equipped with a Thales reconnaissance pod. Diamond has delivered two DA42 MPP as well as two DA62 MPPs, each designed and modified to be capable of carrying three different sensor configurations including the Thales Avni Long Range Oblique Photography Sensor, the Thales I-Master SAR and EO/IR Gimballed Turret Sensor System and the Thales Avni WFOV and EO/IR Gimballed Turret Sensor System. Making its debut at Le Bourget is the Diamond Aircraft Reconnaissance Trainer (DART) 550. Powered by a 550 shp General Electric H75-A flat-rated, ECU controlled turboprop engine and equipped with Garmin G3000 glass cockpit with touch-controlled flight deck and fully integrated 3-axis autopilot, the tandem seat trainer is fitted with Martin-Baker MK16 ejection seats. The DART 550 on display was carrying an auxiliary fuel tank and, shown for the first time, a Leonardo Seaspray 5000E Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) multi-mode surveillance radar on the under wing hard points. Optional ISR equipment includes a belly-mounted FLIR turret.
While the DART aerobatic trainer is still undergoing a certification programme, it has been demonstrated to a number of European air forces and the Paraguay Air Force. The company told EDR On-Line that a lead customer has been confirmed although its identity could not be revealed.
With its headquarters and aircraft and engine research and development centre at Wiener Neustadt in Austria, production of the DA42 and DA62 has been moved to Canada at London Ontario that has doubled in a year.
Photos by David Oliver