Sundt Air Beech 200 with SLAR

Norway’s Sundit Air  based at Oslo Gardermoen exhibited an interesting looking Beech 200 at Paris Air Show. What was noticeable about the aircraft was the Pollution Control titles on the customised cargo pod, which holds the electronic equipment systems bay under the fuselage, as well as the EO/IR turret underneath.

According to a representative of the company, the Norwegian registered Beech 200 is working for the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) out of Aalborg.  It has just completed the first year of a five-year contract (with an option for two more) checking for oil pollution off the coastal waters of Denmark.  The aircraft has been equipped with a Sea Hunter 8000 mission management system, designed by sister-company Norwegian Special Mission (NSM).  As well as the FLIR Star Safire III EO/IR turret, customised by NSM, the Beech 200 is equipped with a Saab sideways looking airborne radar (SLAR) to monitor the waters for up to 40 miles on each side when operating between 3000-5000 miles.  It can stay airborne for up to six hours. According to the company’s systems operator Ole Thorson ‘for every mile we fly we can monitor 30 square miles.’

A real-time data link of the aerial picture can be downloaded to the RDAF’s control centre.  Thorson adds “the SLAR searches and detects oil on the water. When there is a lack of sea noise being reflected back on the radar screen, it means there is oil on the surface. We then advise the RDAF or Royal Norwegian Air Force.’

Meanwhile a Norwegian registered Beech 350ER, equipped with a Terma SLAR spans the length of Norway’s coastline, and regularly monitor’s the Barents Sea ‘disputed area’.

Thorson adds “We regularly pick up Russian Navy intelligence ships and report back to the Norwegian Coast Guard.”

Thorson a former Norwegian Coast Guard sensor operator left the military in 2016 and now works full time for Sundit Air.”

Whereas the Beech 200 in Denmark is focussed mainly with pollution control, the Beech 350ER flying in Norway is concerned with fisheries and smuggling too.    Sundt Air’S Geir Jensen told the author, “the Beech 350ER has 12 hours endurance but the client regularly asks for up to six hours low level live mission.  We regularly fly up to 150 hours a month.”

Jensen finished “we can either sell the aircraft and its systems to the customer or provide a bespoke service arrangement.”

The company also covers Search and Rescue, border control and fisheries.  With its second Beech 200, LN-SUZ which has been upgraded with NSM’s Unifis 3000 the company also undertakes flight inspection.  It has carried out such work in Saudi Arabia (2015), Syria, Jordan, and Italy to check out the navigational aids. Alan Warnes