Aerial Warfare

US Army Program Executive Office Delivers First of Three ISR Aircraft to Canadian Government

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US Army Program Executive Office Delivers First of Three ISR Aircraft to Canadian Government

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US Army Program Executive Office Delivers First of Three ISR Aircraft to Canadian Government
US Army Program Executive Office Delivers First of Three ISR Aircraft to Canadian Government

The U.S. Army Program Executive Office, Aviation Fixed Wing Project Office’s Product Director International and Transport Aircraft (PM FW- ITA) office delivered one Beechcraft King Air 350 Extended Range platform to the Government of Canada Feb. 22, 2024, at the L3Harris facility in Greenville, Texas. Upon acceptance, a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot flew the aircraft to the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario. This effort aims to provide Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) equipped aircraft to the Canadian Armed Forces and is the first of three ISR aircraft set to be delivered to Canada this year. The Canadian Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Foreign Military Sales program was implemented in May 2019 and has been a substantial effort and collaboration between the Government of Canada, the United States Government, and L3Harris.

Along the way, the team has conducted quarterly program management reviews and overcome the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver the aircraft built from scratch at L3Harris. As mandated in Canada’s Defense Policy and the Chief of the Defense Staff Directive for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Force Posture and Readiness, the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command requires the aircraft to be capable of promptly achieving tactical, operational and strategic effects. Maintaining a readily available, mission-tailored and sustainable manned airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability within the RCAF is required to meet this mandate and enhance the CAF IRS capabilities.

Ottawa took delivery in February of the first CE-145C, a new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform derived from the civil Beechcraft King Air 350ER
Ottawa took delivery in February of the first CE-145C, a new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform derived from the civil Beechcraft King Air 350ER. (Photo by Royal Canadian Air Force)

“Delivering the aircraft to Canada has been a blessing and will help continue to grow our alliance with Canada,” said Joseph Kidwell Jr., senior central case manager at the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, who has managed the Canada Program since 2021. “The U.S. and Canada continue to have one of the most excellent military alliances in the world.”

Scott Thovson, deputy product director at ITA, and Ken Ols, PM FW – ITA case manager, who have worked on this project for over two years, agree that this transaction will greatly help the CAF with intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance in its operations, and that while this project has presented numerous challenges, it is extremely rewarding to see the completion and delivery of the first aircraft.

Ottawa is acquiring the aircraft under a programme called Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (MAISR), which was initiated in 2018. Delivery of the final two CE-145Cs is expected before the end of 2024. The Canadian government in 2019 selected Textron, which owns the Beechcraft brand, as the aircraft provider for MAISR. Three King Airs were subsequently purchased through the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system. Those turboprops were provided to L3Harris, which is overseeing aircraft modification, mission systems installation and final delivery of the new MAISR fleet. The exact ISR capabilities of CE-145Cs are not fully known. The type is designated as the CE-145C, according to procurement documents. On 8 March, the DND confirmed the new aircraft’s numerical designation, adding the twin-engined craft will be known by the moniker “Vigilance”.

US Army Program Executive Office Delivers First of Three ISR Aircraft to Canadian Government
The U.S. Army Program Executive Office, Aviation Fixed Wing Project Office’s Product Director International and Transport Aircraft (PM FW-ITA) office delivered one Beechcraft King Air 350 Extended Range platform to the Government of Canada at the L3Harris facility in Greenville, Texas, Feb. 22, 2024. (Photo by U.S. Army Security Assistance Command)

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