CP-140 Aurora

ViaSat has successfully integrated its advanced airborne satellite communication system onto the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft.

The company will be working in collaboration with L-3 Electronic System Services (ESS), the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) and IMP Aerospace. It also completed first flight of the upgraded aircraft in less than 90 days from the beginning of the quick reaction capability project.

ViaSat ISR broadband senior director John Hoffman said: "We’re able to meet this kind of urgent timeline because of the global reach of our ViaSat network and the maturity and reliability of our VR-12 mobile satellite system.

"We had to make a number of modifications for the Aurora aircraft integration, but to serve this market our team is built for rapid response."

"ViaSat completed first flight of the upgraded aircraft in less than 90 days from the beginning of the quick reaction capability project."

The VR-12 is a Ku/Ka dual-band in-flight communication system designed to enable secure, high-speed data streaming from the aircraft through satellite on the ViaSat global network.

The new system is expected to provide the DND with improved ability to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations that can support Canadian Armed Forces’ requirements worldwide.

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More than 600 ViaSat VR-12 systems are currently installed and in operation onboard commercial and government aircraft belonging to several countries across the globe.

Around 14 of 18 CP-140 Auroras are being upgraded by the DND at a cost of more than $2bn to help extend their operational effectiveness to 2030 from 2020.

The upgrades have been conducted through the Aurora incremental modernisation project, the Aurora structural life extension project, and the Aurora extension proposal. They began in 2014 and are scheduled to complete by 2021.

The CP-140 Aurora is based on a Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion platform. It is used by RCAF for maritime patrol / anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, and ISR missions.

Image: A Royal Canadian Air Force’s CP-140 Aurora aircraft at Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany. Photo: courtesy of Arcturus.