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The Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, or EMARSS, is an American reconnaissance aircraft project that grew out of the failed Aerial Common Sensor project.

The EMARSS system will consist of a commercial derivative aircraft equipped with Electro-optic/Infrared (EO/IR) Full Motion Video (FMV) sensor, a COMINT collection system, an aerial precision Geolocation system, line-of-site (LOS) tactical and beyond line-of-site (LOS/BLOS) communications suites, two operator workstations and a self-protection suite.[1]

Four competing teams submitted bids:

  • Boeing[2]
  • L-3 Communications
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Northrop Grumman[3]

The contract was awarded to The Boeing Company in November 2010.[4]

The system is based on the Beechcraft King Air 350ER aircraft (which is already in service as the C-12); the ACS project had selected a larger aircraft, an Embraer ERJ-145.[5] A prototype made its first flight in October 2012. In addition to the prototype, Boeing has an initial order for four test aircraft and two production aircraft.[6]

On 22 May 2013, a U.S. Army and Boeing team completed the first flight of the first of four EMARSS Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development (EMD) aircraft. The aircraft flew for over four hours and completed all first-flight test objectives, including evaluation of aerodynamic handling qualities, aircraft systems performance, and autopilot functions. The flight occurred at the Beechcraft facility in Wichita, Kansas. Flying followed ground tests that included a high-speed taxi.[7]

On 15 August 2013, two EMARSS aircraft arrived at Aberdeen Proving Ground for airborne tests of the target-tracking capabilities. The modified Beechcraft King Air 350 ER aircraft will undergo mission systems calibration and testing to certify them prior to delivery.[8]

On 2 October 2013, the EMARSS program was transferred from the Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, and Sensors (PEO IEW&S) and the Project Manager for Airborne Reconnaissance Exploitation Systems (PM ARES) to the Army’s PEO Aviation to be managed by the Fixed Wing Project Office. PM ARES will retain responsibility for the sensor mission equipment package (MEP) and the processing, exploitation, and dissemination (PED) architecture.[9]

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