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US Army purchases prototype for HADES deep-sensing programme

Bombardier's depiction of the HADES prototype aircraft. (Bombardier)

The US Army has purchased a Bombardier Global 6500, with options for two more, to serve as a prototype for the High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System (HADES) deep-sensing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) system, the service announced on 3 January.

The Global 6500 is to be the army's first service-owned ISR-converted business jet. Although other converted business jets operate on the army's behalf, and more are set to enter service via the Army Theater Level High-Altitude Expeditionary Next Airborne ISR – Radar (ATHENA-R) and ATHENA-Signals (ATHENA-S) programmes, these are contractor-owned, contractor-operated aircraft considered interims for the HADES programme. ATHENA-R was awarded in August 2023 to a MAG Aerospace and L3Harris team, while ATHENA-S went to Sierra Nevada Corporation in October; both ATHENA contractors use modified Bombardier Global 6500 as their platforms.

The HADES prototype is scheduled for delivery to the army in October 2024.

“HADES will bring the army increased range, speed, endurance, and aerial ISR depth,” Colonel Joe Minor, project manager for army's fixed-wing aircraft, said in a statement. “HADES will operate at higher altitudes than legacy turboprop platforms. Higher altitudes equate to an ability to sense farther and more persistently into areas of interest. Deep sensing is the army's number one operational imperative for the Army of 2030.”

HADES is intended to replace the RC-12X Guardrail and MC-12 Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) as the army's primary ISR detection and targeting platform.

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