US Particular Operations Command selects Sky Warden L3Harris for armed surveillance

WASHINGTON — The USA Particular Operations Command introduced on Monday that it has decided on the AT-802U Sky Warden airplane manufactured by way of L3Harris Applied sciences and Air Tractor for its challenge. Armed Observer Program.

The indefinite-quantity contract will probably be price as much as $3 billion, L3Harris stated in a commentary Monday. The preliminary contract for this system is $170 million.

Air Tractor is an Olney, Texas-based airplane producer that most often manufactures firefighting airplane and agricultural airplane reminiscent of harvesters.

Preliminary manufacturing of the Sky Warden will happen at Air Tractor’s Olney facility. L3Harris will then trade those airplane into an Armed Overwatch challenge configuration at its amendment middle in Tulsa, Oklahoma beginning in 2023. L3Harris stated the paintings can even happen at its different websites in Greenville, Rockwall and Waco, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee.

Air Power Particular Operations Command Armed Observer Program goals to construct a fleet of 75 versatile fixed-wing airplane appropriate for deployment in harsh environments with the small logistical tail had to stay them working.

SOCOM plans to make use of the single-engine Sky Warden as an Armed Overwatch AFSOC airplane as a way to supply shut air give a boost to, pinpoint moves, and armed reconnaissance, surveillance, and reconnaissance for counter-terrorism operations and abnormal struggle.

AFSOC Commander Lieutenant Common Jim Slife stated closing 12 months that he was hoping Armed Overwatch airplane can be appropriate to place power on extremist teams in puts like Africa the place airspace is in large part unchallenged.

The Air Power has moved into the Armed Overwatch sequence of airplane because it shifted its focal point – and a few of its extra refined and dear opponents and bombers – clear of preventing terrorist teams and violent extremist organizations in puts just like the Center East. .

The L3Harris Sky Warden will probably be used to place power on terrorist teams in puts like Africa the place airspace is in large part allowed. (L3Harris)

“Armed Overwatch meets the pressing want for US Particular Operations Command to behavior quite a lot of operations all over the world in give a boost to of the nationwide protection technique,” SOCOM Commander Common Richard Clarke stated in a press free up. “This rugged, resilient platform will perform in favorable and cruel environments all over the world to offer protection to our particular operations forces within the box.”

SOCOM stated the airplane can be low price, ready to take off and land in harsh environments, fly for prolonged sessions, and give a boost to numerous modular payloads.

Final 12 months, Slife introduced to Armed Overwatch to permit AFSOC to decommission its out of date and dear U-28A Draco ISR airplane, an extraordinary airplane that calls for specialised apparatus and coaching to deal with.

However SOCOM’s commentary to the Air Power Instances on Monday stated that even after the Sky Warden is delivered, the U-28 will nonetheless be wanted to supply ISR for operations reminiscent of seek and rescue and humanitarian support.

Clarke instructed lawmakers closing 12 months that he envisions 4 operational squadrons of 15 Armed Overwatch airplane, certainly one of which will probably be deployed at any given time and the opposite 3 will probably be skilled, rehabilitated and maintained at house. Clarke additionally stated {that a} 5th squadron of 10–15 airplane can be devoted to coaching.

L3Harris beat out 4 different competition – Leidos, MAG Aerospace, Textron Aviation Protection and Sierra Nevada – at the Armed Overwatch contract. Those 5 companies produced prototype airplane that have been evaluated, most commonly at Eglin Air Power Base in Florida, in past due 2021 and early 2022.

L3Harris stated it’s going to unexpectedly convey its prototype airplane into manufacturing configuration and make allowance SOCOM to start out checking out later this 12 months.

Six airplane will probably be delivered within the first small-scale preliminary manufacturing batch.

Below the contract, L3Harris can even provide coaching methods, challenge making plans methods, give a boost to apparatus, spare portions and logistical give a boost to.

Sky Warden is anticipated to achieve preliminary operational readiness in fiscal 2026 and entire operational readiness in 2029, in keeping with SOCOM.

Rachel Cohen contributed to this record.

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