IDEX 2023: PAL Aerospace unveiled P-6 multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft


At IDEX 2023 PAL Aerospace unveiled its P-6 multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft, based on the Canadian Bombardier Global 6500 business jet. 

“It is time to address the next-gen MPA gap,” Keith Stoodley, Chief Executive Officer PAL Aerospace Services Aircraft Maintenance LLC, told EDR On-Line, referring to the debutante P-6 MPA solution. “The P-6 MPA brings next-gen technology, and regional expertise to the table, providing nations with a highly adaptable and advanced blue-water maritime patrol solution. Our strategic partnerships with industry leaders and the synergy of our P-4 and P-6 platforms demonstrate our commitment to delivering exceptional products and services that are tailored to the evolving needs of maritime domain surveillance and anti-submarine warfare.” 

The new Bombardier Global 6500-based P-6 multi-mission MPA is based on the experience accumulated by PAL Aerospace with special missions configured platforms mainly devoted to maritime duties. The P-6 MPA concept is designed to be highly adaptable to customers’ requirements, featuring an architecture that can readily integrate with an array of systems and sensors from multiple vendors. 

PAL and Thales signed a strategic agreement for the development of a new mission management system software on 30 March 2022 during the Defence Services Asia Exhibition & Conference at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “Together we are ready to co-develop the next generation of mission systems that will innovate how multi-mission MPAs save lives, defend territorial waters, and build maritime domain awareness,” said Stoodley at the time of signing.

The agreement between PAL Aerospace and Thales leverages decades of diverse special mission solutions to co-develop mission-ready capabilities.  According to the joint statement, the development of these capabilities will be based cooperatively at PAL Aerospace and Thales facilities, supporting industry, economic growth, and high-skilled jobs in Canada, UAE, and France.

The P-6 MPA main cabin layout includes five operator workstations, although the aircraft can accommodate between three and eight of those. The fact that the mission management system and workstations arrangement were inspired by those developed for the company’s UAE Q400-based P-4 MPA will considerably ease training issues and crew flexibility.  The two platforms are seen as complementary products. The P-4 MPA has been conceived as a littoral ASW aircraft whereas the P-6 MPA is designed as a blue-ocean ASW asset.

Videos and slides presented during IDEX showed a Global 6500 platform equipped with an underbelly extended and large gondola capable to accommodate a flexible bay for air droppable payloads, including weapon systems and SAR kits, alongside sensors and communications antennas. 

According to the video, the P-6 MPA will have an unarmed range of 1,200 km with a time on station at this distance of 4 hours. Thanks to these capabilities the platform can patrol a vast area of the Indian Ocean, including the Horn of Africa waters, alternatively spending many hours armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles in the Persian/Arabian Gulf and Northern Arabian Sea.

Although company representatives did not explicitly refer to customer requirements in the Middle East region, a number of local air forces are reported to be looking to enhance their MPA/ASW and maritime ISR capabilities. It is known that the legacy P-8A was offered to Saudi Arabia, and other GCC nations have similar surface and underwater requirements. Moreover, with the company having a foot in the UAE and the other in Canada, PAL Aerospace is following closely the Canadian Department of National Defence process to replace its fleet of CP-140 Auroras through the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA) programme.
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