SINGAPORE — After seeing the demand for inexpensive maritime surveillance from Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, signals intelligence specialist IOMAX is considering marketing a maritime surveillance version of its Archangel light-attack aircraft, a company official told Defense News on Thursday.
The Singapore Airshow, which runs Feb. 6 to 11 at the Changi Exhibition Center, marks IOMAX’s first venture to the Asia-Pacific region. The company is a regular exhibitor at defense trade shows in the Middle East — sometimes even bringing the plane as a static display to show potential buyers. It has thus far cultivated customers such as the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Yemen.
This year, the company decided to come to Singapore to better understand the security problems of Southeast Asian countries and whether Archangel could meet their needs, said Seamus Flatley, IOMAX’s vice president of business development.
“I solicited folks to come and meet with us from the various embassies in the region to gain an understanding of their host nation’s requirements and buying habits and funding mechanisms,” he said. “And then we had a number of folks stop by to talk about their business in country X, Y or Z ,and how they could assist us in our efforts to make an introduction to the country’s military organization.”
IOMAX’s flagship product is Archangel, an inexpensive turboprop attack aircraft comprised of a Thrush S2R-660 crop duster that the company modifies with weapons, new avionics and a Wescam MX-15 electro-optical/infrared sensor.
The aircraft has been used in Middle Eastern counterinsurgency missions, giving countries like the UAE a cost-effective air combat capability.
However, Flatley said his conversations in Singapore made him realize that a different configuration of the aircraft might be popular with countries like Indonesia that are more interested in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
“If you talk to folks that are familiar with the requirements in Indonesia, well, it’s an island nation of 7,000 islands, and they’re not so much interested in a weaponized solution. They’re interested in a maritime domain awareness platform,” he said.
“For the Archangel, with the EO/IR sensor and the Osprey radar [from Italian defense firm Leonardo], this airplane becomes and ideal coastal patrol platform with the ability to go out there and see at extended ranges. Marry that up with the sensor and you’ve got the ability to patrol your coastline, patrol out to 100 miles.”
Because of an emerging requirement from the UAE — so far the biggest customer of the Archangel — IOMAX has already begun working out how to incorporate the Osprey radar on the aircraft. The company has completed the design work and technical specifications, but it still needs to physically integrate the radar and conduct testing, he said.
The aircraft also has enough size, weight and power to accept additional payloads, if capability in signals or electronic intelligence was desired, for instance.
“Because of the way the pylons are set up, there’s an Ethernet in the pylons, so if you wanted to put other sensors on the aircraft, it’s a smart pylon,” he said. “If you’re looking at some kind of sigint [signals intelligence] or elint [electronic intelligence] capability, you can tie that into the sensor solution on the aircraft. The platform is agnostic.”
Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.