Seabird Seeker

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Seeker
Seabird SB7L-360A Seeker 2 Bundaberg Vabre.jpg
Seeker at Bundaberg Airport
Role Light observation monoplane
National origin Australia
Manufacturer Seabird Aviation Australia/Jordan
First flight 1 October 1989 (SB5)
Primary user Royal Jordanian Air Force

The Seabird Seeker (SB7L-360 Seeker 2) is a light observation aircraft built by Seabird Aviation Australia and Seabird Aviation Jordan. It is powered by a Lycoming O-360 engine. The company markets the aircraft as a low cost alternative to observation helicopters for the military and civilian sectors. It can be used in roles such as pipeline inspection, coast watch, environmental duties, aerial photography and security.

The Seabird Seeker has had some export success, and is operated by the new (post 2003 invasion) Iraqi Air Force.

Operational History[edit]

Two SB7L-360A Seekers were purchased by the United States in 2004 in response to an initial requirement for eight fixed wing observation aircraft to equip the new Iraqi Air Force under the command of the Coalition Provisional Authority. The aircraft were received into service on 29 July from Seabird Aviation Jordan, and from 7 August Iraqi pilots received initial training on the Seekers.[1] The two aircraft were airlifted by the United States Air Force to Basrah Airport on 18 August. The post-invasion IqAF's first flying squadron, No. 70 Reconnaissance Squadron was raised to operate the Seekers[2] on patrol missions to monitor critical infrastructure such as oil pipelines and electricity transmission assets, as well as national borders. Initial missions saw coalition personnel accompany Iraqi pilots in a training capacity. On September 15, the Iraqi Air Force flew its first solo mission, crewed by two Iraqi pilots to provide intelligence on an oil pipeline spill.[3] Although further procurement of the type did not eventuate after the selection of the SAMA CH2000, Seekers YI-101 and YI-102 continued to operate throughout the conflict successfully, providing capabilities, including real-time feeds of observations to ground forces, night surveillance and carrying digital video equipment to assist with target identification. The Seekers remained in service when the squadron relocated to Talil Air Base in 2010.[4]

Variants[edit]

SB7L-235
Initial prototype equipped with Lycoming O-235. Only one aircraft built.
SB7L-360A
Lycoming O-360 powered production variant.
SB7L-360A-2
Lycoming IO-390 210 hp variant[5]
SB7L-360A-3 ROAMES
Short for Remote Observation Automated Modelling Economic Simulation. Two Lycoming IO-390-A1B6 powered variants built for Ergon Energy featuring upgraded avionics, Garmin G500 EFIS cockpit. The aircraft is capable of fully automated flight, with the pilot able to intervene at any time. Marketed by Seabird as a transitional "optionally piloted" aircraft as an alternative to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.[6]

Operators[edit]

Civil[edit]

 Australia
  • Ergon Energy - Two Seeker ROAMES variants used for geospatial modeling.[7]
 Ghana
 South Africa
 United States
  • New Mexico State Police - Seeker Aircraft America donated one aircraft for law enforcement duties. As of 2014, under the agreement, this Seeker is used to demonstrate real-world applications to potential buyers.[10]

Military[edit]

Jordanian Seeker
 Iraq
 Jordan
 Tanzania
  • Tanzania Air Force Command - An unconfirmed number of Seekers (believed to be between 1 and 4) are operated by the Tanzania Air Force Command. The aircraft are equipped with an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.[11]
 Yemen
  • Yemeni Border Guards - Acquisition of 12 Seekers as part of an assistance package from the United States, used for border protection duties to prevent drug and arms smuggling, as well as illegal border crossings by terrorist militants.[12]

Specifications (Seabird Seeker ER SB7L-360A)[edit]

Data from [13]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 23 ft 0 in (7.01 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 4 in (11.07 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 2 in (2.49 m)
  • Wing area: 141 ft2 (13.1 m2)
  • Aspect ratio: 9.36:1
  • Empty weight: 1301 lb (590 kg)
  • Gross weight: 1997 lb (897 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming O-360-B2C, 160 hp (119 kW) each

Performance

  • Cruise speed: 129 mph (202 km/h)
  • Range: 517 miles (832 km)
  • Endurance: 6.9 hours

Armament

  • 2 × underwing hardpoints
  • 2 pods of rockets
  • 2 cannon pods

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "SB7L-360 Seeker". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "(New) Iraqi Air Force (IqAF) and Iraqi Army Air Corps". MILAVIA. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Zabaldo, J (16 August 2004). "Iraqi Air Force Conducts First Solo Operational Mission". Multinational Security Transition Command, Iraq. 
  4. ^ "Iraqi Air Force". Scramble - Dutch Aviation Society. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Seeker Aircraft Delivers First SB7L-360A2". Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Creedy S (25 February 2011). "Seabird Aviation upgrades as it seeks a higher profile". The Australian. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Seabird Aviation ROAMES Seeker for Ergon Energy". Australian Flying. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "Tanzania flying Seeker observation aircraft". defenceWeb. 4 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Paramount donates aircraft to combat rhino poaching". defenceWeb. 12 January 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "Seeker America acquires Seabird Aviation" (PDF). General Aviation News. 30 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Jennings, G; Peacock, L (7 January 2015). "Tanzania shown to be operating Seabird Seeker ISR aircraft". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  12. ^ Coombes, C (9 September 2013). "U.S. Boosts Counterterror Ops In Yemen". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  13. ^ Taylor 1996, p. 381

Bibliography[edit]

  • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1996). Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory. London, England: Brassey's. ISBN 1-85753-198-1. 

External links[edit]