A number of different airframes have been used for airborne early warning requirements. The Boeing E-3 Sentry is the most well-known but there have been a number of other types over the years. SAAB developed a radar system that has been mounted on Embraer 145 jets, SAAB 340s and SAAB 2000s. The development of this system was started in the 1980s and a testbed was produced prior to the system appearing on a production airframe. This testbed was a Fairchild Metro turboprop. It made an appearance at the Farnborough airshow where I got some shots of it. It was camouflaged in what was then the standard Swedish camouflage scheme. This was a cool look for their planes and I do miss it.
The Sikorsky Black Hawk is a ubiquitous helicopter. They are in service around the world and Sikorsky has a second production facility getting established in Poland. What is not so well known, though, is that Westland attempted to become a license producer of the helicopter for the UK and other markets. They went as far as to build an airframe from a knocked down kit. Meanwhile, another airframe was converted to with what was then the Rolls Royce/Turbomeca RTM322 turboshaft engine for testing purpose. Together, these two airframes were demonstrated at Farnborough. The Westland derivative was not ordered by anyone and both airframes were ultimately converted to other configurations and sold on to other operators.
Another flashback post today. This one is an old Farnborough airshow and it included a rather large flying contribution from the Royal Navy. I don’t now recall exactly why the Navy was so committed to this show. This wasn’t even on the public show days when the display is often modified for the public from the format used for the trade days.
The main element of the display was six Sea Harriers. These were FRS1 models prior to the F/A2 upgrade program. The aircraft took off in groups of three and included a formation hovering routine with the jets arrayed along the runway providing a jet in front of most of the viewing crowd. Some fast flying was also a part of the display of course.
Helicopters also contributed to the display and the low speed capabilities of the Harrier meant that it was possible to combine the fixed and rotary elements together in one formation. The whole thing made quite an impression as a recall. The sound of six hovering Harriers was certainly enough to give the eardrums a workout!