Britten-Norman Defender

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.

Britten-Norman Defender
Class Aircraft
Type Utility
Manufacturer Britten-Norman
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1970
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Denmark View
Ireland View
Mauritius View
Morocco View
Pakistan View
Philippines View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) View
United States of America View
Belize View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Britten-Norman View

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

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. The prototype Defender 4000 first flew in 1994.


  • Defender
  • Maritime Defender
  • Defender 4000
  • AEW Defender

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

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.

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. Since then, one other has been converted to Defender AL2 specification and three more Defender AL2s and one Defender T3 trainer have been ordered.

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.

Role Transport, patrol, reconnaissance
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Britten-Norman
First flight May 1970
Developed from Britten-Norman Islander

General characteristics

From Britten-Norman Brochure

  • 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)[10]
  • 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: 173mph (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)

End notes