IDEX 2017: UAE eyes additional Archangels
23rd February 2017 - 14:00 by Grant Turnbull in Abu Dhabi
After successful deployment to Yemen and other regional hotspots, the United Arab Emirates is expected to place even more orders for the US-built Iomax 'Archangel' counter-insurgency aircraft.
The penultimate aircraft from a 24-aircraft order placed two years ago was on display at this year's IDEX in Abu Dhabi, with the final aircraft expected to be delivered to the UAE next month from the company's North Carolina plant.
A total of 12 additional aircraft – based on the Thrush 710P agricultural aircraft – could be ordered soon to bolster the Archangel fleet, according to Jim Toole, Iomax's chief technology officer.
'They will hopefully buy 12 more, but they haven't done it yet,' said Toole, indicating this batch would have a larger horizontal stabiliser and lower weight. 'It's the platform of choice for air-to-ground precision strike and long-endurance.'
Before the UAE ordered the Archangel, the country had been operating 24 armed Air Tractor AT-802 border patrol (BP) aircraft that had also been converted by Iomax. Despite sharing a similar appearance to the AT-802, the Archangel uses a slightly different airframe supplied by Thrush Aircraft instead.
Six of those AT-802 aircraft – the first to be converted by Iomax in Orlando, Florida – are now with Jordan, which is interested in upgrading the AT-802's weapon systems to the Archangel standard.
The Archangel aircraft has six dual-weapon hard points, three on each wing, that can carry 1,000lbs each including a variety of weapon systems and pods. At IDEX, the UAE aircraft included two Hellfire missiles, two CIRIT quad-pack launcher systems (QPLS), and two mock laser-guided GBU-58 Paveway II bombs.
An interesting addition to each wing's outboard weapon pylons was two Terma Modular Aircraft Survivability Equipment (MASE) pods, which provides 360 degree coverage against man-portable air defence (MANPAD) weapons.
Twenty-four pairs of MASE pods have been acquired by the UAE, providing an expedited self-protection capability for the Archangel. A future upgrade could see a fully-integrated self-protection suite fitted, freeing up the two outer stations for additional weapon stores.
Expanding more on how the UAE pilots use the aircraft on operations, Toole said that a favoured tactic is to fly night operations at medium altitude, where the aircraft is virtually invisible to those on the ground.
Pilots will then deploy weapon systems from altitude to strike enemy positions. The inertial-guided CIRIT – made by Turkish company Roketsan – can be fired out to targets several kilometres away and in its terminal phase is guided by a semi-active laser, similar to the Hellfire.
At 7,800lb empty and max gross take-off weight at 14,800lb, the aircraft is unlikely to be fully loaded with weapons on missions as it would adversely affect range.
Toole indicated that the Raytheon-developed Talon guided rocket, built in the UAE, would also be integrated in the near future.
A laser designation capability is provided by a Wescam MX-15D sensor turret, mounted on an underbelly pod. The MX-15 also provides high-definition day/night sensor capabilities including thermal and low-light cameras for ISR missions.
The avionics suite is a customised Esterline CHC Cockpit 4000, which gives a fully-digital glass cockpit configuration similar to high-end fighter aircraft.
Original post: shephardmedia.com
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