Above: The US Army EMARSS-V prototype at Sierra Nevada Corporation’s facility in Hagerstown, Maryland, where it was handed-over today. US Army/Steve McCool
SIERRA NEVADA Corporation handed over the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System – Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar prototype to the US Army today, June 30, at SNC’s Hagerstown, Maryland facility. US Army Contracting Command – Redstone, on behalf of the Fixed Wing Project Office, had awarded a contract to SNC for the modification of one EMARSS-V aircraft as a deliverable prototype in September 2019. During the $5 million, seven-month integration effort, a number of systems were integrated to enhance performance, increase safety and improve the aircraft’s ability to operate in a near-peer environment. After the EMARSS-V aircraft had received a modernization upgrade, it completed its final flight testing on May 27.
Colonel James DeBoer, US Army Fixed Wing Project Manager, said: “The EMARSS-V prototype, with its modifications, is a lighter, more powerful aircraft. It increases the Army’s capabilities to use fixed wing intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance platforms in more diverse environments. The modified EMARSS-V aircraft has more powerful engines which allow for better performance at higher elevations and hotter temperatures during take-off. It also has the ability to operate out of a wider range of airfields because it uses less runway for take-off. A larger fuel capacity allows this aircraft to stay airborne longer for its ISR missions. With these improvements, the EMARSS-V prototype will allow Army aviation to more effectively support Joint All-Domain Operations/Multi-Domain Operations.”
The modernization upgrade provided the aircraft with an Anti-Jam/Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module Global Positioning System, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast functionality with encrypted APX-119 Mode 5 Level 2 transponder, improved situational awareness with the existing Blue Force Tracker-2, incorporation of the Avalex ACM9454 cockpit management unit and the installation of the mission enhancement kit that will result in increased safety, greater mission capability, increased mission performance and fewer basing limitations.
The installed mission enhancement kit (MEK) is comprised of higher performing PT6A-67A engines, lightweight composite propellers, a lightweight lithium-ion battery and an anti-lock braking system. The MEK reduces aircraft weight while increasing take-off performance in high/hot environments. In addition, the anti-lock braking system reduces take-off field length which increases the number of suitable airfields where this modernized EMARSS-V can operate. Operational data from the EMARSS fleet indicates that an aircraft’s endurance is reduced by approximately two hours when using current engines in high/hot conditions. The increased capability provided by the MEK will allow unit commanders to increase fuel capacity which in turn increases the aircraft’s overall endurance during critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
The EMARSS-V prototype will be inducted at Fort Hood, Texas, with the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion (MIB) in July and then ferried to the L3 Harris facility in Greenville, Texas, for scheduled maintenance. The aircraft will then ferry to the Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Flight Activity in Lakehurst, New Jersey, to undergo calibration and testing of the signals intelligence system. Upon completion of testing, this enhanced EMARSS-V will make its return to the 15th MIB for force generation and future operational deployments.
For this effort, PM Fixed Wing utilized an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contract vehicle for the first time. An OTA offers a streamlined method for carrying out prototype projects and transitioning successes into follow-on production.