New US spy plane deployed to support US military missions in the Indo-Pacific

[Courtesy of L3Harris Technologies]

SEOUL — A new spy plane developed by L3Harris Technologies has been deployed in support of the US military’s military mission in the Indo-Pacific region. The new aircraft with greater capacity and increased standoff distances than the RC-12 Guardrail platform in service for decades can fly for up to 14 hours at altitudes above 12.5 kilometers (41,000 feet).

The new aircraft would help US troops based in South Korea boost airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. L3Harris, an agile global innovator in U.S. aerospace and defense technology, said it has rapidly deployed its Airborne Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare System (ARES) in support of U.S. Army missions in the US Indo-Pacific Command area of ​​responsibility.

According to reports in Seoul, the deployment of ARES to an unspecified location is seen as a measure to monitor North Korean military movements at a time when Pyongyang is stepping up efforts to boost intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and capabilities. nuclear. The ARES was deployed over the Yellow Sea to conduct reconnaissance activities before deployment, according to Yonhap News.

“Our team quickly responded to the Army’s need for a full-spectrum SIGINT solution by upgrading, certifying and fielding the improved ARES platform in approximately seven months – the latest example of our ability to rapidly deliver results for critical client engagements,” Luke Savoie, President of L3Harris’ SRI sector, said in a statement posted on the company’s website. Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is information obtained by collecting and analyzing electronic signals and communications from a given target.

“The platform effectively demonstrates how the military can replace its aging ISR fleets by rehoming existing collection capabilities on an airframe optimized for near-peer operations,” Savoie said. ARES is based on the Bombardier Global 6000/6500 class business jet.

The ARES can activate long-range precision fire to counter distant threats, L3Harris said, adding that flying above 41,000 feet increases survivability rates and aircraft line-of-sight. The aircraft’s extended mission range reduces mission risk by eliminating the need to operate near contested or denied boundaries.

L3Harris won an ARES contract in November 2020 under a High Precision Detection and Exploitation System (HADES) program to develop an aircraft that can replace aging Guardrail spy planes. The new aircraft made its first flight in August 2021.

US spy planes such as the RC-135V/W Rivet Joints and RC-12X are invisible to the public eye, although they make regular flights on and off the Korean Peninsula to closely monitor troop movements North Koreans. The RC-135 Rivet Joint sensor suite enables monitors to detect, identify and geolocate signals across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The RC-12X is based on the US Army Intelligence System which provides operational commanders with near real-time intelligence, precise geolocation data and persistent targeting information.

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