A new technology demonstrator aircraft of the US Army took to the skies for the first time, recently. This is part of a High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System (HADES) program to develop an aircraft, that can replace the Army’s aging Guardrail spy planes.
Guardrail is a turboprop aircraft which is based on King Air. It was originally built as a Cold War system to provide indications and warnings against adversaries in both the European and Pacific Theaters of Operation.
The US Army has reportedly been facing problems with both the operational capabilities as well as maintenance of the aircraft. According to reports, the service is pulling parts from the aircraft’s boneyard in order to keep it running.
Defense contractor L3Harris announced on August 27 that it has flown the Army’s Airborne Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare System (ARES) aircraft, which would enable the US military to upgrade its airborne intelligence, electronic warfare as well as reconnaissance abilities to counter Chinese and Russian threats.
“L3Harris is helping the Army rapidly expand its ISR capabilities with ARES”, Luke Savoie, company president for aviation services, said in his statement. “Our design, fabrication and integration team turned a green airframe into an initial, single sensor-capable platform with new sensing technology in six months”
The aircraft can fly above 40,000 feet for a duration of 14 hours. It can “activate” long-range precision fires and can thus combat distant threats as a “key sensor-to-shooter network enabler”.
The might allow the aircraft to survive and defeat systems in sophisticated adversarial environments made up of sensitive radars and integrated air defense systems.
According to the company, ARES uses the Bombardier Global 6000/6500-class business jet that can carry a mission payload of 14,000 pounds. The aircraft can also accommodate enough power to run the Army’s longest-range sensors with room for growth.
“The aircraft could be a candidate platform for the High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System program,” the company said in its statement.
L3Harris Technologies bagged the contract to develop the ARES aircraft in November 2020. “While the name “ARES” implies the technology demonstrator would have an electronic warfare capability, it won’t start out with the capability and may never have it”, Col. James DeBoer, the Army’s project manager for fixed-wing aircraft, told Defense News.
Another technology demonstrator aircraft, the “Artemis”, or Aerial Reconnaissance and Targeting Exploitation Multi-Mission Intelligence System, is also being operated by the Army.
This aircraft was deployed to Europe earlier this year in order to support the Army’s Defender’s Exercise to help it analyze “what is in the realm of the possible for future ISR fixed-wing capability”.
Artemis also participated in the Army’s aviation-geared exercise Edge 21 at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, in May. New communications sensors were evaluated on the platform, Defense News reported.
“The ARES platform is larger and has more electrical capability and more payload capacity than Artemis”, according to DeBoer. “The conversation comes back to: Where’s the smart place to invest? How much payload do we need? We always want to look at the ability to grow over time; we always add more capability to aircraft,” he said.
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- Written by Kashish Tandon/EurAsian Times Desk