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Chinese state-owned defence equipment firm China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) revealed that it has entered into an agreement with Austrian light aircraft constructor Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH to indigenously develop and manufacture special mission aircraft based on the DA42 Multi-Purpose Platform (MPP) for the domestic and export market. The collaboration was showcased at the 2014 Airshow exhibition held in Zhuhai from 11 to 16 November.

According to CETC, its Chengdu-based Special Mission Aircraft System Engineering Co Ltd (CETC SMA) business unit will offer fully-equipped aircraft, as well as an extensive range of avionics and electronic mission systems to cater to specific customer requirements.

The lightweight DA42 MPP Guardian - which has an overall length, height and wingspan of 8.7 m, 2.49 m, and 13.42 m respectively - is a multirole platform capable of operating from short runways with a minimum take-off and landing distance of 700 m and 570 m. It can accommodate four personnel - a pilot and up to three mission system operators - although seating can be reduced to two for additional payload capacity.

CETC said it will be offering its DA42 MPP Guardian in at least four configurations. A maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) variant, called the Ocean Hawk, features a nose-mounted electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and an automatic identification system (AIS). The Scout, an electronic intelligence (ELINT) platform, can carry a mission payload comprising a digital direction finder, wideband radio and satellite monitoring receiver, as well as a signal analysis system with real-time data processing capabilities. The company will also produce the Trident Eye and Star of Aerial Surveying variants, which are designed for airborne environmental surveying and precision mapping missions.

Speaking to IHS Jane's in Zhuhai, CETC deputy general manager and senior engineer Hong Yuning said the company will: "initially source some of its avionics and equipment from third-party suppliers", but asserted that it will be capable of producing the full range of mission systems "in the near future".

IHS Jane's understands from Hong that the DA42 MPP Guardian will be manufactured at a new 60 km 2 purpose-built facility in Wuhu city - located in the eastern province of Anhui - by a newly established business unit called the CETC Wuhu Diamond Aircraft Manufacture Co Ltd. The new facility will also produce DV20E Katana two-seat light aircraft for civilian and government purposes.

According to Hong, the new business unit was incorporated in December 2013 under a joint venture between the CETC and Wuhu city.

"The new plant will be ready by 2015, and we expect production of the new aircraft to commence by 2016," he said. "We are also aiming to produce up to 400 aircraft annually."

He also revealed that the company has also teamed up with Austrian aero-engine producer Austro Engine GmbH to produce a range of propulsion systems, including the 168 hp AE300 turboprop engines for the DA42 MPP Guardian, under licence at its Wuhu plant.

China readies indigenous special mission aircraft production - IHS Jane's 360


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