Bombardier Challenger 604 MMA
For a number of years three Gulfstream IIIs were operated by Esk 721 of the Kongelige Danske Flyvevabnet – a squadron of the Royal Danish Air Force that were based at Vaerlose. Specially equipped with radar and an electro-optical system, these 3 aircraft were used as VIP transports, but their main role was to mount maritime patrols within the Danish Exclusive Economic Zone that covers the seas around the Faeroe Islands and Greenland. In Aug 1996 one of the 3 Gulfstream III's, serial number F-330, was lost when the aircraft crashed on approach to Vagar in the Faroe Islands. To replace this aircraft a civilian Gulfstream III was hired from Air Flite for one year.
Rather than spend money on an expensive mid-life upgrade on the Gulfstream IIIs, Denmark decided to order 3 specially adapted versions of the Bombardier Challenger 604. After construction the first aircraft to be converted, C-168 (c/n 5468) was delivered to the Field Aviation modification centre at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on 11 Jul 02. To convert the basic passenger design into a Multi- Mission Aircraft (MMA), Field Aviation installed a large 3.6m long radome under the forward fuselage, together with a sliding-door mechanism to accommodate a retractable electro-optical turret in the rear fuselage.
The primary sensor for the Challenger 604 MMA is a Telephonics APS-143B(V)3 OceanEye inverse aperture maritime surveillance radar housed in the radome under the forward fuselage. The rear fuselage houses a FLIR Systems Inc Star Safire II electro-optical sensor, providing a comprehensive day/night capability.
Esk 721 moved from Vaerlose to Aalborg on 1 Mar 04 and recently took delivery of the first Challenger 604 MMA. The remaining two aircraft, C-080 (c/n 5380) and C-172 (c/n 5472), are currently under conversion and will probably be delivered later this year. From their new base, Esk 721 will continue to undertake the occasional medevac, as well as providing VIP transport when required. However, their main role will continue to be maritime surveillance for the safeguarding of fisheries, environmental protection, ice reconnaissance and search and rescue operations around the Faeroe Islands and Greenland, where these capable aircraft should be well suited to this wide-ranging task.