Islander queries. Calling the Plank experts.....

Let me be entirely up-front. I am an aviation journo, and I have a few Islander loose ends that I'd like to tie up. I don't have the four months that would be necessary to get answers 'through channels'. I'd hope that nothing I'm asking is classified or restricted, which is why there are no questions on roles, tactics, the current op deployment, the new Defenders' fit, or about the Northolt cabs.

Army Islanders
Can anyone give an unclass. idea of the Army Islander AL.Mk 1's equipment fit? Jane's have listed AN/ALQ-144, 'a Lockheed Martin IRCM suite', and a recce fit with a door-mounted Zeiss 610 camera, a vertical Zeiss Trilens 80 mm and a second vertical camera fit, consisting of an F126, or a Zeiss RMK or two KS-153 cameras, or a Vinten F143 panoramic camera. I'm told that this camera fit info in Jane's came straight off a display board at an IAT some years ago, so presumably that, at least, is unclass.

Is it true that the single AFWF Islander has “joined its brethren with No.1 Flight at RAF Aldergrove”? When did this happen?

What will happen to the Islanders at RAF Aldergrove when Op Banner ends in August 07?

Army Defenders
What is the operating unit for the three new Defender AL1s? Is it 651 Squadron? Is 651 notionally at Odiham?

Are they any good? Are the Hairy Arm Corps pleased with them?

(There's a nice picture of one at:)

'Civilian' Army Islanders
Why did some of the civil-registered aircraft used by military sports parachute clubs also allocated military serials? (The RAF Sports Parachute Association's BN-2T G-DIVE was ZB503, for example, and G-WOTG was ZF444. Why? Were there any others?)

Misc.UK Military Islanders
What radar did the 'Platypus' ASTOR Islander (G-DLRA/ZG989) use? Why did the aircraft then get a spherical radome like the AEW Defender? Change of radar to Skymaster? What does it have now, and what's it being used for?

Who was the AEW Islander/Defender aimed at? Did anyone here have anything to do with its shipboard trials (I've only seen a photo of it on the boat and know no details)?

If anyone would like to read the draft, I'll happily get a copy e-mailed to them.
This guy's a regular on the Mil forum in Pprune and is what he says.

Out of curiosity, I'd like to know what the Defender 4000s(as referred to by the Col Comd in the journal) are used for.
The BN Press Release said:

"The British Army's latest fixed wing aircraft, BN Defender 4S AL Mk1, has been chosen to fill the fixed wing Liaison & Light Utility role.

The BN Defender 4S is the latest development of the Britten-Norman BN2T Islander aircraft that is in service not only with the British Army, but also with governments and law enforcement agencies world-wide. It meets the need to operate a lightweight aircraft from short airstrips in all weather conditions, by day and night.

The requirement for 3 of the new aircraft stems from an Urgent Operational Requirement for Op TELIC, which was endorsed on the 18 Dec 03 and for which this first aircraft entered service with the Army on 1 Oct 04 - just 91⁄2 months later. The programme has been run by the Helicopter and Islander Combined (HIC) IPT in Yeovilton whose Team Leader, Lt Col John Sherman, described the achievement by his staff and other stakeholders as truly outstanding; adding that it had been as a result of a fantastic and sustained effort by the whole team.

Flt Lt MK Burgess

Notes for editors:
(i) *This news release is an endorsement of a news release issued by the UK MOD
(ii) The BN Defender can fly for longer, carry heavier loads and cover greater distances than rotor-winged aircraft. Its excellent low-speed handling and manoeuvring capabilities allow continuous tight turns at low level for close inspection and photography, and this flexible performance
envelope, combined with an eight-hour endurance and low acoustic signature, provides significant cost and operating benefits.
The BN Defender has an impressive pedigree and an outstanding operational envelope in the surveillance role. Capable of carrying up to 3,500 lbs. of modern surveillance equipment, the aircraft has an endurance of over 8 hours and can patrol 150 nautical miles of border for each flying hour, day or night, operating from low level up to 25,000 feet altitude. While its transit speed to patrol area is 160 knots, its search speed can be varied from140 knots down to an incredibly slow loiter speed of 70 knots (stall speed: engines off/flaps down, is just 47 knots).

B-N Group Enquiries
Kate Bucci, Marketing Assistant
B-N Group Ltd
Tel: +44 (0) 870 881 4000
Media Information

Chris Simmonds
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7371 9791

The photo referred to above gives some indication of other tasks......
Hmmmn. 5 Islanders bought to replace the good old De Havilland Beaver on a 1 to 1 replacement programme for NI late 1988. As they were less than 1m per item they could be bought out of the NI budget as opposed to going through the protracted aircraft procurement system. The initial optical camera fit was as per the Beaver, I'm not going into the details, you can look that up. Another 2 were purchased (AAC Crewed) for the Royal Artillery, to chase target drones etc. I believe that funding ran out and that the AAC took them on. One was subsequently lost in a training accident at Middle Wallop a few years ago. There is now a fleet of 6 working out of NI. A good rumour is that the fixed wing fleet will be based on mainland England post Aug 07, airfield still yet to be decided. A new Sqn of Defender 4,000's bought and manned by the AAC (651 Sqn), became operational 1st April this year. I will not comment on either fit or basing - sorry seek another source:?
Careful, or I'll ask about the 'extra' Defender now in build there .....

I have just realised how easy it would be to overlook the Islander's use in Granby and with SFOR/IFOR/KFOR.....

Anyone know anything?
Did the first training course on the Islander and the Allison donkey.
IOW for the airframe course and Hants and Sussex in Portsmouth for the B250 C17 training.
Never worked on them as I wuz given a fast move from Beavers, but thats another story.
John, don't recall you at Beavers during that era? but then I am getting very old and the mind is slipping, were you replaced by Ian R****ts :?

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