Embraer EMB-145 SA / RS (R-99A/B)
The Embraer ERJ-145 has been one of the companyís great successes, selling more than 500 versions to a variety of civil operators, and capturing a large chuck of the regional jet market.
However, Embraer were quick to realise that their aircraft would make ideal platforms for a variety of military tasks and in the mid-1990s this coincided with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) beginning to investigate airborne platforms as part of the SIstema de Vigililancia de AMazonia (SIVAM) - the Amazon surveillance programme. Initially, Embraer proposed two specialised military versions of its turbo-prop EMB-120 to meet the SIVAM requirement: an Airborne Surveillance (abbreviated SA in Portuguese) version and a Remote Sensing (RS) version. However, by 1997 it was becoming obvious that the greater interior space and performance of their new EMB-145 regional jet would be far preferable for the SIVAM requirement.
The EMB-145 SA first flew on 22 May 99 and a total of 5 aircraft have been ordered for the FAB and given the military designation R-99A. The aircraft is fitted with the Ericsson PS-890 Erieye phased array radar mounted longitudinally above the fuselage. Electronic Support Measures (ESM), communications and datalink antenna are mounted beneath the fuselage and enable the aircraft to integrate data in real-time with ground stations and other aircraft. The installation of these systems has resulted in a number of additional vertical control surfaces and ventral strakes onto the tailplane and fuselage respectively. Manned by a cockpit crew of two and up to five mission specialists seated in forward facing consoles in the main fuselage, the EMB-145 SA has sufficient interior space for three reserve crew members, a considerable amount of ESM and communications equipment and additional fuel tanks within the fuselage. The Erieye radar is capable of 360 degree detection and tracking of air and sea targets, has a maximum instrumented range of 450km and can detect fighter sized targets in excess of 350kms. Typical endurance is in excess of 8hrs.
The EM145 RS is equipped with a McDonald Dettwiler Integrated Radar Imaging System (IRIS), a synthetic aperture radar housed in an under-fuselage radome, a FLIR Systems AAQ-22 StarSafire forward-looking infra-red (FLIR), a Geophysical & Environmental Research (GER) multi-spectral scanner, COMINT and ELINT systems and various on-board items of recording and processing equipment. The first aircraft flew on 17 Dec 99, three aircraft were ordered by the FAP as part of the SIVAM programme and are now patrolling the Amazon basin. This aircraft could well form the basis for a dedicated ELINT version of the 145 in the near future.
Embraer have also developed the unarmed EMB-145 MP configured for maritime patrol and two aircraft have been ordered by the FAP. The EMB-145 MP is very similar to the EMB-145 SA but instead of the Erieye radar, it is fitted with a Raytheon SeaVue search radar in a ventral radome and a FLIR Systems AAQ-22 StarSafire FLIR. In an attempt to attract orders from countries think of upgrading or replacing their Lockheed P-3 Orionís, Embraer have also proposed an armed version, designated EMB-145 P99. This version would be fitted with the Thales AMASCOS suite featuring an Ocean Master search radar in a ventral radome, DR3000 ESM and Agile FLIR. The aircraft would have a cockpit crew of two, five tactical consoles in the fuselage and be capable of carrying four Exocet missiles on underwing pylons.
The EMB-145 SA AEW&C has attracted considerable interest from countries keen to acquire an AWACS capability, without the expense of operating a much larger aircraft, and it is being aggresively marketed by a consortium of Embraer, Ericsson and Thales. Greece ordered 4 aircraft in 1999 and to enable the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) to acquire knowledge in the operation of the Erieye radar, two Swedish Air Force S100B Argus aircraft have been operated by the 380th AEW&C Sqn of the HAF based at Elefsina air base since Sep 01. The first EMB-145 SA destined for the HAF left Brazil on 16 Oct 03, on its way to Ericsson Microwave Systems in Sweden where the Erieye radar and associated systems will be fitted, and it is expected that delivery to Greece will take place next year. Given the continued hostility between the two countries, Turkey was never going to allow Greece to acquire an AEW&C capability without responding and Turkey ordered four of the even more capable Boeing 737 AEW&C 'Wedgetail' in 2003 with the first delivery expected in 2007. Mexico has also ordered 1 EMB-145 SA and 2 EMB-145 MP aircraft.