The Armed Forces of Malta has taken delivery of its second Hawker Beech King Air B200 maritime patrol aircraft.
The aircraft was bought and fitted to Malta's requirements as par of a €19.4m project co-financed by the European Union’s External Borders Fund.
The aircraft was flown from Braunschweig near Berlin, Germany, piloted by Captain Klaus Kuehl, the test pilot of Aerodata and Major George Abela.
It was escorted into Maltese airspace by its ‘elder sister’, AS1126 flown by Major Mark Said and Lieutenant Pierre Carabez. The aircraft was flown a thousand nautical miles directly from Braunschweig to Luqa in under four hours.
The project included the procurement of the aircraft, training for pilots, aircraft technicians and mission system operators and a field support package for the aircraft and equipment.
The King Air MPA is operated by a crew of five: two pilots, a mission system operator and two observers, who are also trained as mission system operators. The general arrangement of the aircraft also includes a small galley, toilet and air conditioning. Communications include internet, satellite phone and high frequency radio at each seat.
The AFM Air Wing’s two King Airs are designed to be mainly employed for surveillance, border control, fisheries protection and Search and Rescue. The King Air type of aircraft is a well proven and tested design with more than 6,000 examples sold worldwide and operated in various different configurations by other law enforcement agencies and military services.
Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42 engines of 850 shaft horse power rating each propel the aircraft at a maximum operating speed of 260 knots and up to a maximum altitude of 28,000 feet. The aircraft is also equipped with a drop hatch for delivery of survival equipment.
AFM fixed wing pilots and technical personnel have received training at Flight Safety International training facilities in Wichita, Kansas, United States of America, where the training focused on the operations and maintenance of the King Air B200 aircraft in basic configuration. The Maltese pilots underwent flight training in an all-moving simulator. Specialised training last year was also provided to two instructor pilots, technicians and mission systems operators at the Braunschweig facility of Aerodata on the aircraft in the maritime patrol configuration. This included the use of the electro optical and infra red camera, 360° belly-mounted search radar, direction finding equipment and various other communications and surveillance systems.
The AFM is currently building a new hangar for its air wing.