At the recently concluded Singapore Air Show, the 340 MSA demonstrated its capabilities by using Singapore’s busy shipping lanes to provide targets for its onboard sensors.
Saab’s concept is that the two pilots and sensor operator function as a single crew. They can all see the same data and they are on the same comms network. Anyone else on board has Ethernet and Wi-Fi for internal and external connectivity. The aircraft has a satellite communications link to provide a phone connection with the outside world, and full internet access in the cabin.
The aircraft can, however, be upgraded, allowing more mission operators to work the sensors. In its basic configuration, the aircraft has an endurance of about six hours, but with auxiliary fuel tanks this could be increased to as many as nine.The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) already operates a pair of Saab 340s to support search and rescue missions in the Japanese waters. The company has used its experience on those JCG aircraft to develop this new version.
A used Saab 340 costs about $2.5 million and there is no shortage of available aircraft. Airframes are fully overhauled and delivered with full warranty and support from OEMs such as Saab and General Electric, the company points out.
Saab is confident of making a first sale of its 340 MSA later this year, with its demonstrator having been flown for potential customers during the Singapore air show. “The response has been really good,” says Richard Hjelmberg, Head of Marketing and Sales for the Maritime Surveillance Area at Saab Asia-Pacific. “Potential customers see the size of the cabin and the growth potential, and like the concept of using an adapted commercial aircraft.”