The CEFLY Lancer was an airborne communications intelligence (COMINT) system mounted on an RU-21J aircraft. The first word of the systems codename was in fact an acronym standing for Communications and Electronics Forward Looking Flying. Development of the system began in the late 1960s and continued into the 1980s, before it was canceled in favor Guardrail / Common Sensor. The CEFLY Lancer program had been burdened with problems. There had been large cost overruns, major schedule delays, equipment weight problems, system integration deficiencies, and other management problems.
The first King Air 200 aircraft procured by the US Army for use as Special Electronic Mission Aircraft (SEMA) use were procured as part of the CEFLY Lancer program. In June 1971, a contract was initiated by the United States Army Aviation Systems Command (AVSCOM) with Beech Aircraft Corporation for the procuremnent of 3 modified King Air A100 (U-21F) aircraft for the United States Army Security Agency as research and development testbed aircraft in support of CEFLY Lancer. The original contract was modified in June 1973 to permit the procurement of 3 T-tailed Model 200 aircraft in lieu of the modified U-21Fs originally planned. The aircrwft were type certificated during 1974 in the normal category of Federal Air Regular (FAR) Part 23 of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Within this category the maximum gross weight could not exceed 12,500 pounds. The contractor performed test and analysis which pernited military qualification to extend the maximum gross weight to 15,000 pounds with reduced maneuvering and speed limitations. This additional gross weight capability was essential to the inclusion of all desired mission equipment for test-bed purposes.
In November 1973, the United States Army Aviation Engineering Flight Activity (USAAEFA) had also been tasked by an AVSCOM test directive to conduct an Army Preliminary Evaluation (APE) on a prototype Model 200 aircraft. The APE was to be conducted in 2 phases. Phase I was to be conducted with the basic airplane without the external mission equipment installed. Phase II tests were to be conducted with a mission configured airplane. The APE I tests were conducted from 20 February to 6 March 1974 at the Beech facility in Wichita, Kansas, using the basic airplane without the external mission equipment installed.
Difficulties and delays with the system had led to the development of Guardrail V as an interim solution until the militarized CEFLY Lancer program was completed and the follow on equipment is procured. Continued problems with the program led to the development of a version of the Guardrail V system using the Beechcraft Model 200 aircraft, which subsequently became known as Improved Guardrail V. In the end, development of CEFLY Lancer was canceled in favor of the development of an expanded system subsequently known as Guardrail / Common Sensor.
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