Bombardier Defense Wins Contract for U.S. Army’s HADES Program, Pioneering Advanced Spy Plane Technology
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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff & Agencies  

WASHINGTON — In a major development for the U.S. Army’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, Bombardier Defense has been awarded a firm-fixed-price contract to provide a Global 6500 aircraft, serving as a prototype airframe for the groundbreaking High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System (HADES) program.

The contract, awarded on Dec. 12, not only includes the delivery of the initial aircraft by Oct. 1 but also carries an option to acquire two additional aircraft over the next three years. The HADES program marks a significant shift in aerial reconnaissance strategy, introducing a large-cabin business jet with advanced deep-sensing capabilities for the first time in the Army’s ISR aircraft fleet.

Col. Joe Minor

HADES is designed to bring about a paradigm shift in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, offering increased range, speed, endurance, and aerial depth. According to Col. Joe Minor, the Army’s project manager for fixed-wing aircraft, the program’s primary objective is to operate at higher altitudes than existing platforms, enabling enhanced sensing capabilities over areas of interest.

“Deep sensing is the Army’s number-one operational imperative for the Army of 2030,” emphasized Col. Minor, underlining the importance of the new platform.

The HADES program is part of the Army’s broader efforts to modernize its aerial reconnaissance and electronic warfare capabilities, moving away from aging Guardrail turboprop planes. The program responds to the evolving threat landscape and the need for a platform with extended duration, speed, and payload capacity capable of detecting and targeting threats from greater distances.

Before the formal initiation of the HADES program, the Army had undertaken the development of technology demonstrators, which have been extensively flown in the European and Indo-Pacific theaters. These demonstrators, including Artemis and Ares, have accumulated nearly 1,000 sorties.

Artemis, utilizing a Bombardier Challenger 650 aircraft, and Ares, featuring a Bombardier Global Express 6500 aircraft, laid the groundwork for the HADES program. The success of these technology demonstrators prompted the Army to progress towards a program of record.

The Pentagon’s strategic interest in engaging potential threats at a distance has driven the need for assets capable of performing missions with an extended range. The Bombardier Global Express 6500, a larger platform than its predecessor, provides the Army with the necessary capabilities for longer ranges and higher altitudes, particularly crucial in the Pacific region.

The HADES program will witness the deployment of two additional Athena aircraft, including a radar variant and a signals intelligence version, in 2024. MAG Aerospace and L3Harris have joined forces to equip a Bombardier Global 6500 with ISR sensors for the radar variant, while Sierra Nevada will contribute its RAPCON-X sensor package for the signals intelligence aircraft.

Steve Patrick, Vice President of Bombardier Defense, emphasized the versatility of the solution, stating, “The way that we view the problem set is not to have a single solution for a single problem but have a solution that can satisfy multiple problems, that is redeployable across the globe very quickly, that can be pivoted to where the current crisis is.”

The HADES program is set to revolutionize the U.S. Army’s airborne reconnaissance capabilities, with Phase 1 incorporating two different aircraft equipped with distinct sensor packages. Program Executive Office Aviation is leading the contract, while PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors will be responsible for acquiring payloads for the selected platforms.

In September 2022, the Army took a significant step forward by awarding contracts to L3Harris and Raytheon’s Applied Signal Technology for the development of sensors for the HADES program. The collaboration has already begun, with L3Harris, Leidos, and MAG Aerospace allying in October, positioning themselves as a formidable team ready to tackle the challenges of the HADES initiative.*

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