The Economist has provided this insightful article on the reasons why nations are choosing to go with low cost alternatives to one hundred million dollar fighter aircraft and forty million dollar attack helicopters. The article correctly points to the benefits of low cost turboprop aircraft – first and foremost the ability to provide the same state of the art infrared sensors and laser guided weapons for roughly $400 per flight hour vs. $40,000 per flight hour for an F-15E.
The article is a little off target on the “list prices” however. While a stripped Caravan from the factory might be sold for roughly $2 million, the U.S. government spent $27.8 million for a package of four aircraft for Lebanon (Congressional Research Service), and the Vigilante price seems to be a holdover from the late 1980′s when that single test aircraft flew.
Nonetheless, the article is spot on in its conclusion that high tech supersonic fighters are not the right tool for the job when it comes to counter-insurgency, and a man in the cockpit has distinct advantages over a drone with “a man in Las Vegas” doing the controlling.
Small, slow and inexpensive propeller-driven planes are starting to displace fighter jets
Sep 20th 2010
“JET fighters may be sexy in a Tom Cruise-ish sort of way, but for guerila warfare—in which the enemy rarely has an air force of his own with which to dogfight—they are often not the tool for the job. Pilotless drones can help fill the gap. Sometimes there is no substitute for having a pilot on the scene, however, so modern air forces are starting to turn to a technology from the yesteryear of flying: the turboprop…”
I especially like his closing point, “You can use a loudspeaker to talk to potential targets before deciding whether to attack them. As Winston Churchill so memorably put it: “When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.”
The Air Tractor comes equipped with a loudspeaker.
Posted on: Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 7:05pm
Military.com posted this video on the Air Tractor 802U at the Farnborough Airshow.
Peter sums it up with this:
“This airplane, as far as I’m concerned is the airplane of this show, there are a lot of Gucchi airplanes here, but this beasty does a nice covert job, and I think it’s going to go places. It’s a fantastic airplane…”
Posted on: Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 7:23pm
New Air Tractor 802U Surveillance Aircraft Flies Across the Atlantic to Farnborough Airshow
The Air Tractor® AT-802U today completed its Trans-Atlantic flight, from Newfoundland to the Azores to England, to display its new capabilities at the 2010 Farnborough Air Show. Air Tractor will display the aircraft and demonstrate its new electronics, sensors and weapons. Visit us at Farnborough on the flight line, section F3.
The Air Tractor 802 is the largest agricultural aircraft in production and the most successful single-engine firefighting aircraft. We know of no other aircraft that delivers so much capability and costs so little.
Unlike other surveillance aircraft, the Air Tractor was built to be operated from farm fields and dirt roads, and maintained out of the back of a truck. It has the capability to reduce the cost and footprint of military operations while bringing state-of-the-art sensors and weapons to remote and austere locations. The exceptional 10-hour time on station of the Air Tractor and the massive 8,000-pound useful load allow the aircraft to carry a wide range of sensors and weapons.
The highlight of the AT-802U surveillance package is the L3 Wescam MX-15Di sensor turret and laser target designator. The MX-15 is integrated with large HD displays and the all-new glass cockpit. Real-time video can be transmitted directly to ground units using the L3 Rover datalink.
The aircraft weapons include the precision Mini Talon GPS-INS guided weapon, dual GAU-19 .50 caliber Gatling guns with over 2,900 rounds, Hellfire missiles, laser-guided 2.75-inch rocket pods, and 500- or 1,000-pound laser-guided bombs. See payload options at http://cavaviation.com/aircraft/.
Backed by a half-century of agricultural, fire fighting, and armored aircraft experience, the team at Air Tractor has a proven record of producing durable, purpose-built, affordable aircraft. Their rugged aircraft design and manufacturing expertise is demonstrated by 2,500+ aircraft sales and exports to more than 30 countries.
Posted on: Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 1:45am
If you’re a defense industry executive or spokesperson, the party is officially over. For the first time in a decade, put on the glum look. If yours is rusty, look up at the gloomy British skies above Farnborough for reference.
I have a feeling it’s going to be that kind of a show. Lockheed Martin’s participation has been slashed in half, which apparently includes the budget for the (sad face) company’s media dinner. Honeywell has no corporate presence at all, although that decision was made in 2008. There’s a “new reality” in the global defense market these days, as Lockheed CEO Robert Stevens says, and it suits the prevailing British weather like a matching pocket square.http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/
Posted on: Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 1:40am
The Air Tractor 802U will be at the Farnborough International Air Show with its AT-802U. Visit it in the static display area in section F3 and be one of the first to see this light attack aircraft.
View our image gallery to download high-resolution images of this and other Air Tractor aircraft.
Posted on: Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 7:19pm
This is a surprising article, but it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who has experienced being eaten alive by mosquitoes in the South and East Coast in the past few years. State and Federal efforts to conduct aerial spraying have been virtually eliminated over the past few decades. Given unscientific objections to spraying and tight budgets, it will take time to get back to widespread use of aerial spraying to control insect disease vectors.
Decades ago aerial spraying in Air Tractor aircraft helped eradicate malaria from the United States. Today, precision GPS spray technology, ultra-fine mist nozzles with variable flow control and new “green” pesticides enable a single Air Tractor to cover thousands of acres per day with environmentally friendly chemicals that are delivered at such low rates that they are not even visible when sprayed.
Hopefully we will return to aerial spraying of mosquitoes before dengue and malaria come back to the U.S. in epidemic rates.
More than 1,000 exposed to dengue in Florida: CDC
WASHINGTON | Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:14pm EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Five percent of the population of Key West, Florida — more than 1,000 people — have been infected at some point with the dengue virus, government researchers reported on Tuesday.
Most probably did not even know it, but the findings show the sometimes deadly infection is making its way north into the United States, the researchers said.