FAIRFAX, Va., Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A prototype aircraft equipped with the U.S. Army's Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System has performed its first flight.
Boeing said the flight this month took place over Delaware and was a "critical step" toward a flight test program by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
The aircraft used in the test was a Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350ER modified to replicate the design of the EMARSS aircraft's external fuselage.
"First flight is a huge accomplishment and I'm particularly grateful to Summit Aviation for their hard work in modifying the aircraft," said Randy Price, EMARSS program manager for Boeing. "As we analyze what we learned, we'll continue lowering risk and improving performance, which ultimately will benefit U.S. Army warfighters who will use EMARSS' near real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities."
EMARSS is an airborne intelligence collection, processing and targeting support system featuring a commercial derivative aircraft equipped with an electro-optic/infrared full-motion video sensor, a communications intelligence collection system, an aerial precision guidance system, tactical communications suites, operator workstations and protection suite.
It will be used to support Army tactical missions.
Boeing said the FAA flight test program will validate the modified King Air prototype's flight and handling qualities and lead to a FAA Supplemental Type Certification.
"That FAA certification supports the airworthiness release to be issued by the Army Engineering Directorate for EMARSS," Price said. "We can focus subsequent testing of the engineering and manufacturing development aircraft on the mission systems capabilities and operational aspects and qualification of the platform."