L-3 Harris Sky Warden USSOCOM Armed Overwatch

Having worked with AT-80s in the fire-fighting role, they are not big though they are very robust. To my mind "collapsing the stack" with a new platform is a commendable idea but squeezing all those mission sets into a rather small single-engine aircraft seems optimistic. ISTAR and comms (and those are the two most important missions for this platform IMHO) need lots of electrical generating power and a crewed platform working in remote locations needs engine redundancy. If SOCOM had gone for a KingAir or similar, I would be more convinced.
I suspect the requirement for operation out of austere bases eliminates aircraft such as King Airs.
 
I suspect the requirement for operation out of austere bases eliminates aircraft such as King Airs.
True. The MC-27J might have done the job (it is a lot bigger but it has the space for the ISTAR and comms equipment) but we know how well the Spartan programme went! Interesting that the prime contractor for Spartan was L3 Technologies which is now L3 Harris, the prime contractor for SkyWarden.

https://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/ac-xx-gunship-lite-a-c-27j-baby-spooky-05001/

Yes, I know I am diverging from the brief for a cheap, light, single-engined aircraft but I think AT-800U is a solution in search of a problem.
 
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True. The MC-27J might have done the job (it is a lot bigger but it has the space for the ISTAR and comms equipment) but we know how well the Spartan programme went! Interesting that the prime contractor for Spartan was L3 Technologies which is now L3 Harris, the prime contractor for SkyWarden.

https://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/ac-xx-gunship-lite-a-c-27j-baby-spooky-05001/

Yes, I know I am diverging from the brief for a cheap, light, single-engined aircraft but I think AT-800U is a solution in search of a problem.
Here is the Congressional Research Service’s take on the program. They’re asking the same questions.


https://sgp.fas.org/crs/weapons/IF10954.pdf
 
Viking trying to punt the DHC6-400 in a maritime role as the Guardian 400. Might be adaptable for COIN or overwatch with a slightly better surveillance suite than the Sky Warden, ie, space for more operators. Same caveats apply as to vulnerability and support. Couple of UAVs rotating and overlapping on station probably a better option.

Only peripheral advantage I can see with the Guardian would be the ability to resupply by air if necessary and if known to be safe to do so.

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I know Airborne Technologies very well over the years, so they hosted our PAVcOn EUrope few months back.

Here are my photos of the above on static and inside Mission Control / T\O station.
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cheers
 
It has been tried - in Iraq the yanks took a pair belonging to NASA and modified them to see if the concept had legs.

They are still being used by (IIRC) the Phillipines - very capable aircraft. But definitely not for anything like near peer - I always thought that the Argies are missing a trick with their Pucara. Although not that modern they seemed like a capable platform for COIN - with a semi-decent MAWS and DIRCM it could hold its own against most MANPADS.

There was an episode of the Fighter Pilot podcast that talked (again IIRC) the Bronco and touched upon other types used for the same mission.

In case you have not hung around our crab brethren:
MAWS - Missile approach warning system. Usually only passive in nature.
DIRCM - directed Infra-red counter measures: A freakin’ laser that blinds the sensor of a MANPADS
C1B3FDDC-092B-4E3F-9F3F-F33EAB5AC038.jpeg

MANPADS - man portable air defence system - a stinger type thing.
COIN - counter insurgency

They took the Lockheed Yo-3A which NASA AMES Research Center uses? The silent motor gliders first used in Vietnam and equipped with the then first generation FLIR and LLtV?


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??

cheers
 
I know Airborne Technologies very well over the years, so they hosted our PAVcOn EUrope few months back.

Here are my photos of the above on static and inside Mission Control / T\O station.
View attachment 683470View attachment 683471View attachment 683472View attachment 683473View attachment 683474View attachment 683475


cheers

Just the normal electronic gubbins up front is a much higher power drain than the normal -300. No idea how they intend running a boot full of sensor equipment as well on the gennies they use on the -34 engines unless they've upgraded those or shoved a Sundstrand APU in the arse.

The gubbins also doesn't like heat, cold, dust, moisture or any of the other problems working out of a FOB will provide. They've taken a very capable platform and turned it into something that doesn't know what it is. Would have been better sticking a Garmin 1000 up front and leaving some of the analogue gear than the current fear and angst riddled Honeywell stack.
 

Bad Smell

Old-Salt
I think most are approaching this from the wrong angle as it is not designed to be a strategic asset but a tactical one. It may well be that SOCCOM have had equipment supplied in the past which ignored or did not fit their requirements.

As SOCCOM likes to do their own thing you need to think outside the box a little and see what they require. It would appear that its use is designed for low threat low intensity operations and they require something that does a bit more than the drones that are currently embedded with them. The larger strategic platforms are just too large and not easily re-tasked once on station. This is where a rugged, low maintenance and reliable aircraft come into play as it has immediate availability and response.

If you think back to say the Vietnam War or the Angolan/Rhodesian bush wars and put yourself in the place of the commander on the ground. What is he asking for? An immediate set of eyes above the ground along with good comms and it also packs a little punch.

Some of the roles it could fulfil are FAC, FOO and armed overwatch. Possibly the best use of a similar aircraft in recent times was the SAAF's Bosbok and Kudu during the Border War. As there are no credible air arms in southern Africa nowadays who knows where these aircraft may operate in the future?

Looking at my own limited exposure to crop dusters, they have removed the hopper from in front of the cockpit and enlarged the fuel tank. The undercarriage it essentially a leaf spring held in place with a couple of big bungee cords. And it has the ever reliable P&W PT6A power plant with loads of power and a short take off capability. So an aircraft that is low and slow with good manoeuvrability and loiter time. There would be minimal maintenance and logistical requirements and it could be easily deployed by C-130.

I am approaching this from the point of view that lessons learnt from previous conflicts have been lost by succeeding generations. A smart decision when considering low threat low intensity operations.
 
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In the case of what you describe, I'd prefer the OV10 Bronco, just for the warm feeling the extra engine provides. Also somewhat faster and probably a better weapons platform.
 

SLR_Shooter

Old-Salt
I read somewhere that they were looking at broncos.

Also, if my mind is not playing tricks, I seem to remember that the crop duster plane has excellent ground view. As it is a plane you fly low and perform acrobatics in whilst turning the sprayer on and off.

Probably from Take Off magazine circa 1986.
 

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