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C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

BIRD details African ASIO project

12 October 2017

BIRD Aerosystems has delivered its Airborne Surveillance, Information, and Observation (ASIO) solution to an African state, the Israeli defence company has told Jane’s . It did not identify the client.

The Cessna Citation MPA that BIRD Aerosystems has delivered to an African client. (BIRD Aerosystems)The Cessna Citation MPA that BIRD Aerosystems has delivered to an African client. (BIRD Aerosystems)

Worth about USD20 million, the contract included delivering a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), a ground-based command-and-control (C2) centre, and the installation of ASIO workstations on existing naval vessels. Additional aircraft will be delivered in the future.

The MPA is a Cessna Citation business jet, which can cover wide areas of sea and travel rapidly. It is fitted with Leonardo's SeaSpray active electronically scanned array (AESA) multimode surveillance radar and a Controp electro-optical (EO) sensor system in a belly fairing. It has an automatic identification system (AIS) receiver for tracking transponder signals from ships and line-of-sight and satellite communications systems to keep it connected with the land-based C2 centre.

The ASIO system is now being operated by the country's security forces for maritime security missions that include protecting offshore energy infrastructure from terrorist attacks and countering piracy, smuggling, and illegal fishing.

"The client wants to be able to identify motherships that remain outside of the [country’s exclusive economic zone] waters and the smaller associated satellite fishing vessels that enter its waters," Shaul Mazor, vice-president of marketing and business development at BIRD, told Jane's .

"The ASIO system takes all of the inputs from the maritime radar and the EO, placing them on a digital map along with the [AIS] transponder broadcasts,” he said. Mazor added that the system can work semi-automatically to identify false AIS signals to enable the client to identify suspicious activity at sea.

The ASIO workstation installed on the bridges of the clients’ naval vessels enables them “to receive the real-time information from the aircraft and jointly build a common maritime situation awareness picture”, he said.

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