For Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), innovation and strategic problem solving never stops. The company is well known for putting its own “skin in the game,” something its private ownership affords flexibility for. SNC now continues its investment in the future of the armed services, this time with a new Aerial Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AISR) platform called RAPCON-X. Short for rapidly configurable jet, with “X” representing any number of missions, SNC is developing the highly modular, open architecture commercial derivative aircraft (CDA) as a preemptive solution to what it sees as an emerging gap in DOD aerial ISR capability.
SNC Senior Director of Business Development Tim Harper explained, “SNC has a long history of developing solutions to difficult challenges, and we understand this process never ends. We’ve been in the industry for nearly 60 years, and understand that sometimes, needs emerge at a pace that doesn’t match that of government procurement processes. Our demonstrated pedigree of delivering solutions across DOD and international customers, combined with our team of top engineers, gives us the ability to identify the needs of tomorrow and address them today.”
In that spirit, SNC will take receipt of two Bombardier Global 6500 jets this fall, at which time it will employ model-based systems engineering (MBSE) to integrate ESM capabilities. This digital modeling reduces the time required to integrate new systems as they are developed and become available. Additionally, the RAPCON-X open architecture Mission Equipment Package (MEP) and easily configured mission fairing eliminates vendor lock and allows for rapid modification without aircraft redesign.
RAPCON-X is engineered ready for Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) installation. Its large body design provides the space and excess electrical power to easily accommodate current mission equipment while allowing for substantial future growth in requirements. Further, as a CDA, RAPCON-X offers the high reliability, superior range and endurance to facilitate immediate worldwide deployability within an operational envelope that enhances survivability.
Combining ASE with deep-sensing standoff capability – from 45,000 feet MSL and above – RAPCON-X allows operations in the peer near-peer, A2/D2 environment. It is self-contained and fully mission capable without special support equipment.
“Our forward-looking design process and engineering techniques will place RAPCON-X among the most capable and rapidly configurable AISR platforms worldwide,” said Tim Owings, executive vice president of SNC’s MST business area. “RAPCON-X is a system of systems that arrives ready to complete the mission, whenever and wherever the need is, with the flexibility to quickly modify as the battlespace evolves.”
SNC will use its demonstrated ability to deliver turnkey, contractor-owned-contractor-operated (COCO) services – including aircraft, flight and maintenance operations and logistics support – as a business model for the offering.
“One of the key benefits of private ownership within the aerospace and defense industry is the speed and flexibility it allows to invest, innovate and quickly pursue development of the solutions and tools we believe are right for the customer requirements,” said SNC CEO and Owner Fatih Ozmen. “SNC continues to invest heavily in high-tech and agile solutions for our customers. Some of our greatest successes are the result of our investments and it’s something we will continue to pursue as we work alongside the U.S. Government to protect our nation and its allies. Using our collective experience as pilots, warfighters, engineers, MRO professionals and logistics providers, we will continue to build what we truly believe are the best solutions for the problems of both today and tomorrow.”