The RCAF is buying three highly modified King Air 350ER surveillance aircraft that will provide a nimble and modern alternative to the 60-year-old CP-140 Aurora aircraft that now serve in that role. The King Airs are the latest iteration of the venerable twin and are expected to be deployed in support of overseas counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations. They are typically flown with a crew of three including two pilots and a systems operator who has a cornucopia of modern technology at his or her fingertips.
The RCAF has ordered the aircraft with “three WESCAM MX-15D electro-optical and infrared imaging sensors; three AN/AAR-47B(V)2 missile and laser warning systems; three AN/ALE-47 countermeasure dispenser systems; three VORTEX Dual RF Ku LOS transceivers; three COMSEC modules (KGV-135A); two APM-424(V)5 transponder test sets; five KIV-77 Mode 4/5 crypto applique computers for identification friend or foe (IFF); three AN/APX-119 IFF digital civil and military transponders; six ARC-210 multimode voice and data transceivers; and three KG-250X National Security Agency-certified type 1 inline network encryptors, per DSCA,” according to defensenews.com.
Although the Auroras have been continually upgraded, they are 60-year-old designs better suited to the long-range patrol function they were initially purchased to perform. There are also training considerations in that multi-engine training the RCAF is currently done on King Air C90 aircraft and the transition to the new aircraft should be relatively straightforward.