Sure, there are plenty of foreign examples out there from the Super Tucano to the AT-6 - but what would I find the most interesting ... well ... what do you think about the Air Tractor® AT-802U? "What?", you say - you think it looks like a crop duster? Well, because it is. But ponder this.
» Real-time eye in the sky for ground troop support» Integrated fire control system» Training-focused force support» Small logistics footprintProven - I've got your proven hang'n.
In part, this is because of the robust mechanics of turboprops and in part because Air Tractor’s fuel tanks have rubber membranes which close around bullet holes to slow leaks. Add extra fuel tanks, which let the plane stay aloft for ten hours, six 225kg precision-guided bombs and more than 2,000kg of missiles, rockets and ammunition for two 50-calibre machineguns, and you have the AT-802U, a formidable yet reasonably cheap (at $5m) warplane.
The Air Tractor® AT-802U is an economical single engine turboprop aircraft designed for surveillance, precision strike, and rugged dirt strip utility missions. The AT-802U combines an 8,000-lb. (3,629 kg) payload and 10-hour ISR mission capability with the flexibility and responsiveness of a manned weapon system – for a fraction of the cost of unmanned aerial vehicle systems.
... and now ... I tell you; never to miss a single post at CDRS!(when the unarmed version has been conducting counter drug missions) Despite the planes’ having been hit by more than 200 rounds, though, neither an aircraft nor a pilot has been lost.
They may look like your average crop dusters, but four U.S. planes being sent to Jordan are outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance gear and laser weapons that will allow the Middle Eastern ally to patrol its lawless eastern border with Iraq, where the ISIS threat looms large.Excellent! I will still take a few squadrons for USAFR/USANG/USNR ... but for now, this will do.
The spy planes, retrofitted 36-foot AT-802 two-seaters, were initially destined for Yemen, where the U.S. had been trying to help the president hold off an Iranian-backed siege. But with American forces pulled out of that Gulf nation, and Jordan in need of help in the fight against ISIS, the new planes could be the first installment of a bigger armament package diverted from Yemen. The Air Force ordered accelerated delivery of the planes, which Amman requested to help it seek and destroy terror threats on both sides of the border, and documents seemed to indicate that personnel could be on the way, too.
I hope they prove useful.