Britten-Norman Defender

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Britten-Norman Defender AL.2.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]


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


 United Kingdom
Defender AL.2 of 651 Squadron of the Army Air Corps
British ArmyArmy Air Corps
Greater Manchester Police
Police Service of Northern Ireland
Garda Air Support Unit – 1 × Defender 4000.[9]
National Coast Guard of Mauritius 1 x BN-2T[10]
Maritime Security Agency
 United States
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Philippine Navy 6 x BN-2 [11]
Royal Moroccan Navy 14 x BN-2B
Home Guard (Denmark) 2 x BN-2B


General characteristics[edit]

From Britten-Norman Brochure[12]

  • Overall Length: 40 ft 4 in (12.2 m)
  • Wingspan: 53 ft 0 in (16.2 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 3 in (4.4 m)
  • Empty Weight: 5,000 lb (2,300 kg)[13]
  • Maximum Takeoff & Landing Weight: 8,500 lb (3,900 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2x Rolls-Royce Allison 250-B17F turboprops
  • Takeoff Distance (Rolling): 1,167 ft (356 m)
  • Landing Distance (Rolling): 1,012 ft (308 m)
  • Rate Of Climb: 1,250 ft/min (6.35 m/s)
  • Absolute Ceiling: 25,500 ft (7,800 m)
  • Maximum Cruise Speed: 203 mph (176 knots, 326 km/h)
  • Economical Cruise Speed: 173 mph (150 knots, 278 km/h)
  • Range (Instrument FR): 991 miles (861 nm, 1595 km)
  • Range (Visual FR): 1158 miles (1006 nm, 1863 km)
  • Payload (With Maximum Fuel): 1,598 lb (725 kg)

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". Retrieved 1 January 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". Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Britten Norman Islander / Defender,
  8. ^ "PH planes ships still have no sighting of missing malaysian jet". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 9 March 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Warner, Guy (October 2015). "Policing Ireland". Air International. Vol. 89 no. 4. pp. 110–115. ISSN 0306-5634. 
  10. ^ "National Coast Guard". Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  11. ^ "World Air Forces 2014" (PDF). Flightglobal Insight. 2014. p. 23. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  12. ^ – brochures – Defender Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Fightglobal, 1990

External links[edit]