in Defence / Features

Icarus-X Caravan set to take off in east Africa

Posted 9 March 2020 · Add Comment

Belgium’s H3 Defence Solutions was showing off its Cessna 208 Caravan demonstrator – dubbed Icarus-X – at the Dubai Airshow in mid-November. Alan Warnes explains why the aircraft is very much a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Civilian-registered, the Icarus-X has what looks like a cargo pod underneath to house radar and other electronic systems. However, the hard point could give it away.
There is a capability of having four, but these can be taken off and the electro optical/infrared (EO/IR) turret lowers up and down into the aircraft on a gimbal when required.
It’s a “jack of all trades aircraft”, according to Ralph de Gier, H3 Solutions CEO. “It is basically a Cessna Caravan with a full reconnaissance sensor suite on it to cover the three domains – sensor, radar and radio frequency (RF) systems like signals intelligence (SIGINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), or even active electronic warfare (EW) systems like jammers.”
There is also a combat capability with four separate seven-tube launchers mounted on the hard points and any combination of unguided and guided rockets.
De Gier continued: “The military use the latter for precision but they are 20 times as expensive as unguided; if you just want to scare off people, or fire into a group of militants, unguided will do fine.”
For the launch customer in east Africa, de Gier has integrated the Thales laser-guided rocket (LGR) but he stressed: “We are free to integrate any system for a customer, as long as it stays out of international traffic in arms regulations (ITAR).”
While de Gier, who writes the software for the mission system, is proposing Thales rockets, anything from there on is a customer preference. FN Herstal machine gun pods and Nextar 20mm cannons, as well as guided and unguided bombs, are all possibilities.
“It’s a fully integrated system so all the sensors work together and the pilot and operator can use a Thales Avionics Scorpion clip-on helmet-mounted display (HMD) for cueing and operating the weapons.”
Test-firing of the strike capabilities cannot be done in Belgium, so that will happen in east Africa in March. He declined to say which country was involved.
“It is a complete programme, but the customer wants to fully understand the aircraft’s capabilities,” he explained.
The first aircraft was due to be delivered as African Aerospace was going to press. There will be another in mid-2020 and a third, possibly by the end of the year.
“The one in mid-2020 is expected to be fully armed; this capability is currently in the last phase of its development and we hope to present the aircraft at Farnborough,” said the CEO.
A closer inspection shows the Cessna 208 has a retractable Hensfoldt Argos IIHD EO/IR system, which the launch customer has acquired. It could easily be a L3 Wescam CMX-15, or CMX-20, which are ITAR-free.
Two rocket launchers and two machine gun pods can be mounted on the wing’s four hard points. The pilot, wearing the Scorpion HMD, has the ability to fire the weapons.
For guided rockets, the sensor operator in the rear can slew the EO/IR turret on to the target and send the imagery to the pilot, who can watch it on the middle Garmin display before firing.
For maritime patrol operations, the Seaspray 7300 or 7500 radars are the main options but de Gier is open to integrating any other systems.  

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Rolls-Royce to develop aviation energy storage technology

Rolls-Royce is entering new aviation markets to pioneer sustainable power and as part of that mission we will be developing energy storage systems (ESS) that will enable aircraft to undertake zero emissions flights of over 100 miles on a

Swissport announces new regional manager for Middle East and Africa

As part of a new commercial structure, Swissport has redesigned its market setup and appointed new regional managers across Europe, the Middle East & Africa.

Havelsan partakes in Shield Africa event

Turkey’s Havelsan participated in the Shield Africa event, which was held on 8-11 June in the Ivory Coast to showcase its Land, Naval and Air solutions for the defence and security of the African continent.

Paramount Group Technical Aviation Academy opens in Pretoria

Paramount Aerospace Systems, subsidiary to aerospace and technology company Paramount Group, has announced that its Technical Aviation Academy has strategically re-located to Wonderboom National Airport, adjacent to the

NAS awarded Airport Lounge Tender for New Terminal in Zambia

National Aviation Services and NAC2000 Corporation have been awarded a tender to operate an airport lounge in the new terminal at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) in Lusaka, Zambia.

Bullish airlines buck the global trend

Two start-up airlines are taking to the skies and several incumbents – including Air Peace, Azman Air and Dana Air – are growing their fleets.

Aviation Africa 2021 SKOC
See us at
WDS BT1202090322Aviation MENA 2022Aviation Africa 2021 BTOCDAS21_BT