Britten-Norman Defender

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ZH002 Britten-Norman Defender AL 2 British Armys 651 Sqdn landing at RAF Waddington (cropped).jpg
Britten-Norman Defender AL.2 of the British Army Air Corps
Role Transport, patrol, reconnaissance
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Britten-Norman
First flight May 1970
Developed from Britten-Norman Islander

The Britten-Norman Defender is a multi-role utility transport aircraft, manufactured by Britten-Norman of the United Kingdom. It is the military version of the Britten-Norman Islander, developed for roles such as utility transport, casualty evacuation, counter-insurgency and light attack, forward air control, patrol and reconnaissance.


First flown in May 1970, the Defender was based on the civilian Islander, and has a larger airframe with four underwing hardpoints for pylons to attach 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg) of fuel tanks, bombs, missiles, 7.62-mm (0.3-inch) machine-gun pods, rocket pods, flares, sensors and other stores.

The BN-2B (piston version) and BN-2T (turbine version) are used in military, coastguard, and police operations in several countries.

Defender 4000[edit]

Defender of the Greater Manchester Police, England

The BN-2T-4S Defender 4000 is an enhanced version of the BN-2T Defender intended for the aerial surveillance role. Compared to earlier Defenders, it has a stretched fuselage, the enlarged wing from the Trislander, a new nose structure capable of accommodating a FLIR turret or radar, and an increased payload.[1] The prototype Defender 4000 first flew in 1994.[2]

Operational history[edit]

The Mauritanian Air Force employed six BN-2A-21 Defenders in the Western Sahara War against POLISARIO forces in 1976, losing two of them in action.[3]

A Rhodesian Air Force Alouette III, configured as a gunship or 'K-Car' (20mm cannon), shot down a Botswana Defence Force Air Wing Islander on 9 August 1979.[4]

The FBI deployed one Defender for electronic aerial surveillance on the Branch Davidians' compound during the siege of Waco in 1993.[5]

In 1996, the Royal Cambodian Air Force deployed its three BN-2 Defenders in support of the dry season offensive against Khmer Rouge insurgents. The Defenders were armed with machine guns and rockets, and even dropped mortar rounds. One Defender was lost during the operation.[6]

In 2003, the British Army bought four Defender 4000 aircraft, known in service as the Defender AL1, fitted with under-wing defensive aids dispensers and an electro-optical turret under the nose.[7] Since then, one other has been converted to Defender AL2 specification and three more Defender AL2s and one Defender T3 trainer have been ordered. They have been employed in the command and communication role with limited use in transporting personnel.

The Irish Air Corps bought one Defender 4000 in 1997. It is operated by the Garda Air Support Unit.

In 2014 the Philippine Navy sent one of its Defenders to assist a multinational search and rescue party led by the government of Malaysia in search of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.[8]

In August 2017, in an attempt to calm a gang war in Copenhagen, the Danish police force used at least one of the Danish National Guard's two Defenders to fly reconnaissance missions over the city.[9]


Multi-role utility transport aircraft.
Maritime Defender
Armed maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.
Defender 4000
Enhanced Defender for the urban surveillance, counter-terrorism and maritime surveillance roles.
AEW Defender
Airborne Early Warning aircraft


Home Guard (Denmark) 2 x BN-2B[citation needed]
Royal Moroccan Navy 14 x BN-2B[citation needed]
 United Kingdom
Defender AL.2 of 651 Squadron of the Army Air Corps
 United States

Specifications (Defender 4000)[edit]

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004[16]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 (flight crew)
  • Capacity: Up to 16 troops in transport role
  • Length: 12.20 m (40 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 16.15 m (53 ft 0 in)
  • Height: 4.36 m (14 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: 16.15 m2 (173.8 sq ft)
  • Aspect ratio: 8.0:1
  • Airfoil: NACA 23012
  • Empty weight: 2,223 kg (4,900 lb) (empty equipped)
  • Max takeoff weight: 3,856 kg (8,500 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 1,131 L (299 US gal; 249 imp gal)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce 250 B17F turboprops, 300 kW (400 shp) each


  • Maximum speed: 326 km/h; 203 mph (176 kn) (Max cruise, at 3050 m (10000 ft))
  • Cruise speed: 276 km/h; 171 mph (149 kn) (72% power, at 1525 m (5000 ft))
  • Stall speed: 87 km/h; 54 mph (47 kn) (flaps down)
  • Range: 1,863 km; 1,158 mi (1,006 nmi) (VFR reserves)
  • Endurance: 8 hr 30 minutes
  • Service ceiling: 7,600 m (25,000 ft) (absolute ceiling)
  • Rate of climb: 6.4 m/s (1,250 ft/min)
  • Take-off run to 15 m (50 ft): 565 m (1,854 ft)
  • Landing run from 15 m (50 ft): 589 m (1,932 ft)

See also[edit]

Related development


  1. ^ "BN2T-4S – Defender 4000 Surveillance Aircraft". B-N Group Limited. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Britten-Norman Milestones". B-N Group Limited. Archived from the original on 14 April 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  3. ^ Cooper, Tom. "Morocco, Mauritania & West Sahara since 1972". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  4. ^ Safarik, Jan J. "RHODESIA Post World War II Conflicts". Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  5. ^ FBI brings out secret electronics weapons as Waco siege drags on, by James Adams. The Sunday Times, p. 23, 21 March 1993
  6. ^ Grandolini, Albert. "Cambodia, 1954–1999; Part 3". Archived from the original on 5 August 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  7. ^ "Britten Norman Islander / Defender". Archived from the original on 17 April 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2007.
  8. ^ "PH planes ships still have no sighting of missing malaysian jet". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 9 March 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Politiken, Danish newspaper". Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  10. ^ Warner, Guy (October 2015). "Policing Ireland". Air International. Vol. 89 no. 4. pp. 110–115. ISSN 0306-5634.
  11. ^ "National Coast Guard". Archived from the original on 14 November 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  12. ^ "World Air Forces 2014" (PDF). Flightglobal Insight. 2014. p. 23. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  13. ^ Quinn, Ben (3 February 2007). "Aircraft that eavesdrop on conversations". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  14. ^ Scheerhout, John (20 July 2015). "Hush-hush spy plane belonging to Greater Manchester Police is retired after 10,000 hours of secret missions". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  15. ^ "£200k bill for 12th crash PSNI plane". Londonderry Sentinel. 30 May 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  16. ^ Jackson 2003, pp. 484–486
  • Jackson, Mark, ed. (2003). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-2537-3.

External links[edit]