PAL Aerospace, De Havilland Canada team up to develop Dash 8 P-4 Special Mission Aircraft

Their main goal is to participate in Malaysia's ongoing tender for maritime surveillance aircraft.

Dash8 Special Mission Aircraft
PAL Aerospace/De Havilland Dash 8 P-4 Special Mission Aircraft.

On February 25, 2021 PAL Aerospace and De Havilland Canada announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly pursue the development of a fully missionized Dash 8-400 aircraft, called the “Dash 8 P-4” for maritime patrol (MPA), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), as well as other applications. The baseline aircraft will be modified with the addition of auxiliary fuel tanks to offer superior range, endurance and time-on-station. The image also shows other features such as a Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) for anti-submarine combat missions in the rear and a radome for the surface search radar and an electro-optical turret under the belly.

PAL Aerospace and De Havilland Canada believe there exists a significant global market for missionized turboprop aircraft, especially in the MPA and ISR market. They say the unique capabilities of the Dash 8-400 platform, combined with PAL Aerospace’s demonstrated global capability as a full-service provider of specialized aircraft modification, technology integration and special missions operation, can deliver a unique value proposition for clients looking for leading edge MPA and ISR programs. Their primary focus currently is to offer a complete Dash 8 P-4 MPA solution for the Royal Malaysian Air Force's ongoing maritime surveillance aircraft procurement.

“PAL Aerospace’s unmatched credentials in the design and modification of MPA and ISR aircraft, their understanding of the Dash 8 as a current operator of the platform, and their more than 40 years’ experience in special missions operations are unique in Canada and around the world,” said David Curtis, Executive Chairman of Longview Aviation Capital, De Havilland Canada’s parent company. 

“The Dash 8-400 aircraft’s turboprop efficiency and low-impact on the environment combined with its high productivity and jet-like performance have proven to be an ideal combination for many of our airline customers around the world,” said Philippe Poutissou, Vice President, Sales and Marketing at De Havilland Canada. “These attributes also make the Dash 8 P-4 a versatile and formidable special mission aircraft.”

This new collaboration affirms commitments from both PAL Aerospace and De Havilland Canada to continue the development of multi-role, MPA and ISR configurations for the Dash 8 aircraft. The project marks the evolution of what had already been introduced at the Dubai Air Show 2017. In Dubai PAL Aerospace showed a modified Dash-8 Q300 for MPA and ISR missions.

About Malaysia's maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) tender

In August 2020, the Malaysian Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) issued a tender to search for two maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs) for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF). It was followed by the plan presented by the RMAF in October 2020, which provides for the introduction of 4-6 maritime patrol aircraft.

RMAF currently operates a fleet of three older Beechcraft King Air B200T surveillance aircraft to monitor the country's territorial sea. The fleet originally consisted of four aircraft, but one was lost in a 2016 crash.

The contenders for the deal are currently the Leonardo ATR-72MP, Airbus C-295 MPA, Boeing P-8A Poseidon, Kawasaki P-1 and PTDI CN-235 MPA.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Image: PAL Aerospace

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