One of the problems for an island nation which - after some unpleasant experiences with undue interference in her internal affairs by both superpowers in the 1960s - has made it a principle to buy neither Russian nor American: Where can one get a carrierborne ASW/AEW platform? When the Thiarians pondered this problem in the early 1980s after the decision to revive their carrier fleet, the solution was obvious: Nowhere. It would have to be designed and built domestically. For a requirement of somewhere between 20 and 30 aircraft. In terms of cost, it would be complete madness; unit cost for the AEW version was calculated to be $ 90 million (almost twice the contemporary price of a E-2 Hawkeye) even before the project was launched. By that time (1982), money was however a rather secondary concern for the Thiarians, who had enjoyed nine consecutive years of economic boom and gotten quite used to it, and SCI received a development contract to deliver a carrierborne multipurpose plane similar to the S-3 Viking to function as ASW platform, tanker and AEW aircraft. When the programme was in full swing, oil prices sharply dropped from 1985, and the Thiarians had to curtail defence spending somewhat, so the programme was delayed after the first prototype's first flight in 1986, with the Siolpaire fighter given priority. The ASW version, whose usefulness was doubtful by that time, became ready for series production only in 1990, and the AEW version - whose right to exist at least was not contested - took till 1992 to mature. By that time, the plane, which looked quite similar to the S-3 Viking, but had a twin tail, had been dubbed PM-B (maritime patrol aircraft type B) Boghdoir (Archer), and SCI charged an outrageous $ 75 million per copy for the ASW version and $ 130 million for the AEW version. There was considerable political pressure to dump the project, drop the requirement for carrierborne ASW capability and buy Hawkeyes for AEW, since no export customers were visible anywhere too. But national pride prevailed; as usual in Thiaria when money was scarce, the army budget was cut to bolster the navy, and instead of 800 new 3rd generation tanks the army required to replace their 1960s vintage tank force, 24 Boghdoirs were ordered in 1994, 12 each of the ASW and the AEW version, with an option for 12 more (which has not been called upon till today). Deliveries started in 1996 at a slow rate of 4 machines per year; the first carrier battlegroup (of the carrier LT Oirion) reported operational in 2000 and achieved FOC in 2003. The machines had a very long radius of action (2.500 kilometers) and were perfectly equipped for their task. The ASW version had two different radar sets, FLIR, MAD, Sonobuoys, a bomb bay for up to four MU-90 ASW torpedoes and four underwing hard points for even more torpedoes, Polyphem ASMs, bombs or big 2.000 liter fuel tanks with aerial refueling hoses. The AEW version carried a domestically developed radar of similar capabilities as the APS-145 and an additional look-down radar forward. Deliveries were complete in 2002, and the last Super Frelon AEW helicopter (which had assumed the AEW role when the carriers were commissioned in 1987 and 1989) was retired in 2005. By that time, total cost of the programme had reached $ 3 billion, with each ASW machine averaging a fly-away cost of $ 90 million and each AEW plane $ 160 million. Not surprisingly, the type kept failing to attract export orders, and the programme was officially declared complete in 2008. In 2012, India rather surprisingly showed interest in the AEW platform; like Thiaria, that nation had a long tradition of not buying American, but like almost everyone else, they lack money, so it remains open for speculation of they are willing to pay the § 225 million per copy SCI wants for every copy in case of a re-start of production (as compared to $ 175 million for the latest E-2D Hawkeye, which arguably has a better radar).
SCI PM-B Boghdoir (ASW and Tanker version, shown here with 4 Polyphem Missiles)
SCI PM-B Boghdoir (AEW version)
Proposed Indian Navy version (AEW only)