Hensoldt imaging turret to feature on Viking’s Guardian 400 world tour


Hensoldt Optronics South Africa will be supplying the Argos electro-optical/infrared imaging turret for the Viking Air Guardian 400 special mission aircraft that will be embarking on a world tour in September this year.

Canada-based Viking Air Limited this week said it plans to hold a world demonstration tour for the Series 400 Twin Otter aircraft, which will fly through Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, South East Asia, Oceania, and North America. The trip will last around nine months.

A production Series 400 Twin Otter has been going through modifications for the last six months to transform into Viking’s Guardian 400 demonstrator aircraft for the proposed world tour. It will have a right-hand SCAR (Self-Contained Aerial Reconnaissance) pod, manufactured by Airborne Technologies, with Hensoldt Argos EO/IR imaging turret, mega-pixel HD Thermal imager, multi-spectral HDTV camera, laser range finder, multi-mode auto tracker, and Remote Image Bus (RIB) video feed for display on the cockpit multi-function display (MFD) or crew workstation.

The demonstrator will also feature a left-hand SCAR pod with Leonardo Osprey Radar System and Sentient Vidar Camera system.

The SCAR pod is completely self-sufficient and allows wireless operation. Data connection from pod to operator station is done via WiFi and needs no external cabling. The SCAR-Pod does not assume any airframe modifications on the aircraft.

The surveillance architecture of the aircraft has been designed by Airborne Technologies. Their integration solution, Airborne LINX, fuses all critical sensors on board the aircraft and provides an easy-to-handle user interface.

The Guardian 400 prototype will be equipped with an Airborne Technologies’ tactical workstation with high-definition touchscreen monitors, data/voice/video recorder, mission management unit, mission radio communications, intuitive hand controller for MCU and SLR camera targeting, CarteNav AIMS mission system software, Kestrel MTI targeting software, and Ikhana ergonomic mission seat for optimised crew comfort. The prototype will also be equipped with Viking conformal bubble windows, left and right wing-mounted hard points by Ikhana, Thunder Bay Aviation stretcher racks, and an aft lavatory.

Viking Air is pitching the Guardian 400 as a low cost platform for maritime surveillance, search and rescue, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, among other missions. In addition to the new sensors, the Guardian 400 has an increased take-off weight and extended-range internal patrol tank that allows for operational sorties of more than 10 hours.

Special mission Twin Otters are already flown by the US Army, Vietnamese Navy and United Arab Emirates Air Force.