According to the news of Košice Airport, the aircraft with the Latvian registration number YL – FBI (for clarity – it has nothing to do with the USA Federal Bureau of Investigation) is one of the most interesting aircrafts that has visited the airport lately. The aircraft serves as a platform for IES's flying laboratory ARSENAL.
The leading Slovakian aviation media Magneta Press stressed the uniqueness of the aircraft model BN-2T-4S Defender. It was developed by British independent aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman. Defender primary was designed for military roles, but IES uses it for civil purposes – environmental research. The model is a modified version of the aircraft BN-2 Islander, whose first version was released more than 50 years ago, in June, 1965. Since then, the Islander has been continually modernized, facing the most significant changes by upgrading drive units from piston engines to turbo. The first military version of Defender was presented in 1970s.
IES operates with Defender, which originally was manufactured in 2000 for Hempshire police with British registration number G-SJCH. The institute adopted it in 2013, aiming to transform it into the platform for remote sensing sensor systems. Because of the military background Defender is able to carry smart detection equipment – hyperspectral sensor systems, radars, high resolution cameras etc., with a total weight of 400 kg. They can be installed internally or externally from four underwing hardpoints. Despite its small body, the aircraft has a capacity for long endurance (up to 8 hours) missions. It can take off from short (400 – 500 m) unprepared runways and flight through different weather conditions in day and night.
In Latvia the aircraft BN-2T-4S Defender has gained its rebirth becoming a part and face of a unique Airborne Surveillance and Monitoring System ARSENAL. IES launched it in October, 2013. ARSENAL integrates eight mutually operable sensors which provide high quality data on the terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems, their structure, chemical composition and spatial characteristics. The system is capable of acquiring 454 spectral bands simultaneously in a spectral wavelength from 280 to 12000 nm.
More about the ARSENAL