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19 July 2018

Shadow R1 ISTAR Aircraft

Shadow R1 is an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft developed by Raytheon.
Shadow R1 ISTAR aircraft is based on Beechcraft King Air 350CER aircraft. Image courtesy of Jerry Gunner.
The service ceiling of Shadow R1 is 10,668m. Image courtesy of NH53.
The aircraft has a length of 13.34m and a height of 4.57m. Image courtesy of SAC Frankie Ling.

Shadow R1 is an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft developed by Raytheon. It is currently in operation with the 14th Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Based on the Beechcraft King Air 350CER twin-turboprop aircraft, the Shadow R1 is modified to perform the manned tactical aerial surveillance duties for the UK Special Forces.

The Shadow R1 entered service with the RAF in 2009 and supports the ISTAR operational requirements of the UK Armed Forces.

Shadow R1 ISTAR aircraft design and dimensions

The Shadow R1 aircraft features a circular-shaped fuselage with a low-mounted wing configuration. The stabilising surfaces on its empennage are arranged in a T-tail configuration. The aircraft features superior mission systems integrated with cutting-edge technologies.

The ISTAR aircraft has a length of 13.34m, height of 4.57m and wingspan of 16.61m and a wing area of 28.8m².

Shadow R1 cockpit and avionics

Shadow R1 can be fitted with either Rockwell Collins ProLine II or Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite. The avionics suite features a universal navigation system, an altimeter, dual-airspeed indicators, a flight director, and an electronic flight information system.

The active matrix liquid crystal display (LCD) multi-function displays in the cockpit will make the key data available at the pilot’s finger tips. The information related to the engine, navigational data, maps, current location and destination, environmental data, air traffic sensor information, mission details and system synoptic will be fed to the onboard crew to enhance their situational awareness.

Other standard equipment on the flight deck include flight management system, autopilot, air data computers, turbulence detection radar and global positioning system (GPS).

Sensors/radars

The aircraft is fitted with an electro-optic / infrared system, synthetic aperture radar / inverse synthetic aperture radar (SAR/ISAR), missile warning system and countermeasures dispensing system.

“The Shadow R1 entered service with the RAF in 2009 and supports the ISTAR operational requirements of the UK armed forces.”

It can be integrated with signal intelligence package and state-of-the-art mission systems to support intelligence gathering missions.

Engine and performance of Shadow R1 aircraft

The aircraft is powered by two PT6A-47A turboprop engines offered by Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC). The maximum power output of each engine is 850shp.

The PT6A engine minimises the fuel consumption without compromising on speed. It enhances the reliability and performance of the aircraft.

The advanced material technologies and aerodynamics involved in the development of PT-6A engine enable it to generate additional power without a significant increase in size.

The engines are coupled to four four-bladed propellers from Hartzell Propeller Company. The automatic feathering reversible-pitch propellers are made of aluminium alloy materials.

The power plant enables the aircraft to fly at a maximum cruising speed of 294kt (544km/h). The maximum altitude attained by the aircraft is 35,000ft (10,668m).

Landing gear

The tricycle-type landing gear fitted to the aircraft is hydraulically retractable. The nose-gear unit is fitted with a steerable single wheel, while two main landing-gear assemblies include a twin-wheel unit each.

The tyres attached to the landing gear units are controlled by hydraulic multi-disc brakes.

The suspension duties are performed by the onboard oleo-pneumatic shock absorbers. The main gear is forward retractable, whereas the nose-gear unit retracts rearward.

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