The new maritime patrol aircraft of the Armed Forces of Malta was rolled out at Hawker Beechcraft's facilities in Wichita, Kansas, USA last week. The B200 aircraft, serial numbered BB2016, is now undergoing flight and systems testing by the company before being flown to Germany.

Once there, Aerodata AG in Braunschweig will fit the aircraft with the Telephonics Corporation's RDR-1700B maritime surveillance and imaging radar, besides other mission related electronics before being delivered to the AFM's Air Wing early in February next year.

This belly mounted search radar provides full 360 degree coverage of the marine environments - vastly increasing the AFM's current capabilities.

The King Air B200 aircraft, being partially financed through the EU External Borders Fund, is a highly successful twin engine turboprop utility aircraft that has been in production in various models since 1972, with over 3,500 of the type now in service all over the world. The AFM's version of the aircraft features a fully digital cockpit, increased maximum take off weight, and specialised surveillance and communications equipment to perform the maritime patrol mission.

Powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprops, producing 850 shp each, the B-200 can cruise at over 300 mph and has a service ceiling of 35,000 ft.

AFM Officers present for the roll out, and who flew in the aircraft during the acceptance flight, reported that the aircraft was a delight to fly and is was a marvel of engineering and technology.

The AFM currently operates two Islander twin-engined aircraft, a number of Bulldog single-engined trainer aircraft and Alouette helicopters.

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