The U.S. Army took delivery of the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System – Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (EMARSS-V) surveillance aircraft prototype at the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC)’s Hagerstown, Maryland facility on June 30.
The EMARSS-V aircraft, which is based on Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft, received a modernization upgrade and completed its final flight testing on May 27.
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.
The EMARSS-V prototype will be inducted at Fort Hood, Texas with the Army’s 15th Military Intelligence Battalion in July and then ferried to the L3Harris facility in Greenville, Texas for scheduled maintenance. The aircraft will then ferry to the Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Flight Activity in Lakehurst, New Jersey to undergo calibration and testing of the signals intelligence (SIGINT) system. Upon completion of testing, this enhanced EMARSS-V will make its return to the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion for force generation and future operational deployments.
The U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC) at Redstone Arsenal (RSA) in Alabama, on behalf of the Program Executive Office Aviation Fixed Wing Project Office, awarded a contract to SNC for the modification of one EMARSS-V aircraft as a deliverable prototype in Sept. 2019.
The modernization upgrade provided the aircraft with an Anti-Jam/Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module Global Positioning System (GPS), Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS–B) 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 is comprised of higher performing PT6A-67A turboprop engines, lightweight composite propellers, a lightweight lithium-ion battery and an anti-lock braking system. The MEK reduces aircraft weight while increasing takeoff performance in high/hot environments. In addition, the anti-lock braking system reduces takeoff 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.
U.S. Army EMARSS Surveillance Aircraft
The U.S. Army’s Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) provides a persistent airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability to detect, locate, classify, identify and track surface targets with a high degree of timeliness and accuracy during day, night and nearly all weather conditions.
The system enhances Army Brigade Combat Team (BCT) effectiveness by defining and assessing the communications environment and providing surveillance, targeting support and threat warning.
EMARSS contains a tailored set of Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) enabled software ISR functionalities to process, exploit and rapidly disseminate the intelligence derived from the imagery sensors. Selected EMARSS imagery is immediately processed on the aircraft and forwarded to DCGS-A for further processing, analysis and reporting.
EMARSS complies with Department of Defense (DOD) Information Technology Standards Registry and Defense Information Systems Network. This architecture enables interoperability with any multi-service or joint system that complies with DOD standard formats for data transfer and dissemination.
+ EMARSS-S: Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) with Broad Spectrum SIGINT and High Definition (HD) Full Motion Video (FMV).
EMARSS-G: Geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) with Wide Area Aerial Surveillance (WAAS), Light Detection and Ranging, and HD FMV.
EMARSS-M: Multi-intelligence (Multi-INT) with SIGINT and HD FMV.
EMARSS-V: Equipped with Northrop Grumman’s AN/ZPY-5 Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER) radar with Vehicle and Dismount Moving Target Indication, SIGINT and HD FMV.
The contractors for the U.S. Army EMARSS program are Boeing in Ridley Park, PA; L3 Aerospace Systems (now L3Harris) in Greenville, TX; Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) in Hagerstown, MD; and Adams Communications & Engineering Technology, Inc. in Waldorf, MD.