Malta’s Armed Forces have taken delivery of a second Hawker Beechcraft King Air B200 aircraft for maritime patrol duties.
The aircraft was flown from to Malta directly from Braunschweig near Berlin and escorted into Maltese airspace on Monday by the first King Air.
The aircraft was bought as part of a €19.4 million project co-financed by the European Union’s External Borders Fund. This included the airframe, training and a field support package. The Fund is paying 75% of the aircrafts’ cost.
As Malta is an immigration flashpoint, the overall External Border Fund effort in Malta is valued at €112 million between 2007 and 2013. It provides for a wide range of equipment, including patrol boats, IT systems, police equipment and training.
The King Air maritime patrol aircraft is flown by two pilots while a mission system operator and two observers, also trained as mission system operators, sit in the cabin.
Aerodata at Braunschweig airport in Germany was responsible for converting the aircraft into a maritime patrol platform and installed a variety of surveillance equipment, including a belly-mounted Telephonics RDR-1700B radar with 360 degree coverage, an L-3 Wescam MX-15i day/night surveillance turret with infrared camera, a search and rescue direction finder and other equipment.
The aircraft were procured for surveillance, border control, fisheries protection and search and rescue duties. A drop hatch allows for the delivery of survival equipment.
Prior to delivery, Armed Forces of Malta pilots and technical personnel received training at Flight Safety International training facilities in Wichita, Kansas. In addition, two instructor pilots, technicians and mission systems operators received training at the Braunschweig facility of Aerodata on the aircraft’s maritime patrol equipment, the Times of Malta reports.
Malta signed the contract for the second King Air B200 in January last year, after ordering the first aircraft in October 2009. That aircraft arrived in Malta in February last year and was formally commissioned into the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) in April.
AFM Commander Brigadier Martin Xuereb said it was a historic day for the AFM in view of the quantum leap in capability. The delivery of the aircraft had coincided with a delicate time for the Central Mediterranean, he said.
The Armed Forces of Malta are currently building a new hangar for the King Airs, which is being co-financed through the External Borders Fund with an investment of more than €1.5 million.