U.S. Special Operations Command is arming small, maneuverable surveillance planes to supply conflict commanders a precision-strike choice supporting floor troops in rugged terrain with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided rockets.
If overhead fireplace assist is ready to establish and attack pockets of enemy fighters, fewer floor troops need to enter into enemy fireplace. Additionally, an overhead asset of this type will be an intelligence node capable of ship focusing on data and knowledge concerning troop actions. In terms of precise close-in counterinsurgency fight, fighters usually obscure themselves in defilade or in buildings, requiring a necessity for precision strikes. Air to floor precision weapons can use a laser rangefinder and different kinds of superior applied sciences.
One aircraft now working is MAG Aerospace’s MC-208 Armed Caravan, a transformed surveillance aircraft already in service with SOCOM and one other in manufacturing for a U.S. allied worldwide pressure. The Aircraft consists of a Textron-built airframe and MAG-integrated sensors, communications, avionics and weapons techniques.
“SOCOM is aware of the operational environment requiring these kinds of operational concepts,” Tim Wells, Senior Director, Mission Integration Division, MAG Aerospace, advised Warrior.
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MAG’s armed surveillance aircraft is meant to satisfy a selected want as a result of it could possibly function in close-in, practically fast coordination with the models it helps. Air attack or available surveillance, for occasion, is not going to must be known as upon from much less accessible fixed-runway-reliant aircraft. F-22s, F-16s, A-10s and even F-35s can be utilized for close-air-support, nonetheless they require a set, exhausting runway and are subsequently much less capable of take off and land in rugged, uneven terrain in shut proximity to SOF models on the bottom. Additionally, the Pentagon seeks a produceable, inexpensive aircraft that may carry out these missions, liberating up fifth era and different fixed-wing aircraft for operations in much less permissive environments the place air supremacy must be established — resembling enemy territory armed with superior air defenses or fighter jets.
“There are plenty of countries that have an extremist threat — the Middle East and South and Central Africa. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) is asking for this (armed surveillance planes) for Nigeria, Somalia and Libya. It is a perfect platform for where we are fighting,” Florida Congressman Rep. Michael Waltz advised Warrior in an interview a number of months in the past.
MAGs Armed Caravan can be being provided as a part of a brand new SOCOM search to broadly purchase an “Armed Overwatch” attack aircraft. SOCOM is pursuing a phased technique to develop this aircraft, the primary part of which incorporates MAG’s MC-208 Multi-Function Armed Caravan from MAG Aerospace and different choices from business rivals…together with L3’s AT-802 Longsword, Leidos, Paramount USA and Vertex Aerospace’s Bronco II Aircraft, Orbital ATKs AC-208 Eliminator. In the meanwhile, the respective business bidders have submitted White Papers as a part of a broader SOCOM trajectory resulting in an eventual flight demonstration of the aircraft.
Every of the rivals is providing varied aircraft, sensor and weapons integration potentialities in an effort to satisfy SOCOM’s sought-after necessities. MAG Aerospace’s Caravan providing, for occasion, seeks to capitalize upon a combat-tested, ready-to-produce variant of its now in-service Cessna C-208 ISR gentle aircraft. The MAG surveillance and missionized aircraft have been supporting U.S. allies’ operations in Uganda, Kenya, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Philippines, Jordan, Honduras, Guatemala and different nations. Its new MC-208 Caravan includes a weaponized adaptation of the now operational aircraft.
“We are building this with a platform that is in production with a pedigree that goes back many years. With this we don’t have to prove out that our aircraft can be supported, as it has over 20 million flight hours,” Wells stated.
The MC-208 Caravan will be armed with as much as eight Hellfire missiles and as many as 28 Superior Precision Kill Weapons Programs (APKWS) laser-guided rockets for smaller targets. MAG builders emphasize that its providing is particularly configured to rapidly adapt its sensors and weapons to numerous mission necessities resembling these wanted for casualty evacuation, direct attack or maneuvering surveillance operations. APKWS Hydra 70 Folding Fin Rockets can both lay down suppressive fireplace to allow troop motion or pinpoint actual targets with laser designation.
“Within a matter of hours we can reconfigure the aircraft for whatever is required by the user,” Wells stated.