AT-802 was originally an agricultural aircraft. Air Tractor has developed several armed models.
Propeller fighters that were popular during World War II soon became obsolete when jet engines were put into service. In terms of speed, maneuverability, propeller aircraft is far inferior to aircraft using jet engines. However, it seems that the era of propeller fighters is coming back as manufacturers are developing a range of these aircraft, for example, Embraer A-29 Super Tucano or Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine.
Recent deals have shown that armed civil aircraft are seen as a cheap alternative to expensive new-generation jet fighters. Over the past few years, L3 Technologies and Air Tractor have been actively marketing the OA-8 Longsword turboprop fighter, an armed version of the AT-802 aircraft.
Military versions of the AT-802 are equipped with external hardpoints, sensors and fire control systems. It can engage in reconnaissance missions or as a close-air Support Aircraft.
AT-802 was originally an agricultural aircraft, first appearing in 1990. With an empty weight of approximately 3 tons, its gross weight reached 7.2 tons, the aircraft manufactured by Air Tractor was capable of carrying out the work of several smaller aircraft.
AT-802A is described as providing outstanding productivity for one takeoff. In addition, the Air Tractor AT-802 was designed to fight large and small fires. It combines agility, performance, high reliability and accuracy with flexibility that allows it to operate in places where other fire fighters cannot.
By design, the aircraft has an overall length of 11m, a wingspan of 18m and a height of 3.89m. The AT-802 has a conventional arrangement like any other turboprop aircraft. The engine is located in the nose, the cockpit is in the midships, the tail is a large single vertical fin combined with two low-mounted horizontal planes.
AT-802 uses a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67AG turboprop engine, providing 1,350 horsepower. The aircraft can reach a cruising speed of 356 km/h for a range of up to 1.289km, a service ceiling of 7,620m while a rate of climb of 4.3 meters per second.
In its standard configuration, the aircraft has 2 seats for one pilot and one crew member, also has a single seat version. The pilot sits in an angled glass cockpit, which is significantly higher than the nose, giving him good visibility for nose and wings. This is because AT-802 was originally designed specifically for field operations.
AT-802F Fire Boss
In the standard version, the aircraft used a conventional landing gear with two main wheel legs fixed under the wings and one rear wheel. However, in the AT-802F Fire Boss fire fighting version, the landing gear was replaced by Wipaire 10000 amphibious floats, so that it could both land on traditional runways or on water.
Fire Boss can take water from a lake or river to use on fire. The powerful Pratt & Whitney turbine engine allows the AT-802F to move quickly between fires. Once over the fire line, AT-802F will slow down, lower its altitude and drop everything it carries into the fire. The AT-802F’s maneuvering agility, speedy climb rates and compact size make it ideal for mountainous terrain, narrow flight corridors, and wildland-urban interface areas.
Americans soon realized the capabilities of the AT-802, low operating costs, fuel economy, large payload and wide range of operations made the AT-802 the ideal air asset for patrol missions and quick response with low-cost light weapons.
Air Tractor has developed several armed models, the cockpit and engine are enhanced with armor, a bulletproof windscreen, self-sealing fuel tanks, and structural reinforcements for more payloads.
The AT-802U was displayed in 2009 at the Paris Air Show, it is also configurable for more advanced systems depending on customer requirements. Laser-guided ordnance, helmet-mounted displays, fire-control systems, survivability systems, and sensor payloads could all be incorporated into this robust aircraft.
AT-802U is arranged up to 11 hard points on the wings and on the fuselage, it can carry a variety of weapons systems, including dual 12.7mm GAU-19 three-barrel gatling guns, Hellfire missiles, dual M260 seven-tube rocket launchers, and Mk-82 bombs. An AT-802U is only priced at approximately $ 17 million, much cheaper than a jet fighter.
Another armed version of AT-802 developed by L3 Technologies and Air Tractor, AT-802L Longsword, also known as OA-8 Longsword. The aircraft was introduced at the 2017 Avalon Airshow in Australia. This is an AT-802U-based intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and light attack version specifically developed for the Asia-Pacific region. A representative of L3 Technologies said that they had received some orders for this model from Australia, New Zealand and some Asia-Pacific countries, but did not disclose further details.
The OA-8 Longsword is equipped with FLIR search and target detection sensor system, has a range of about 600 km and can fly continuously for 5 hours. Longsword can carry a load of 2.8 tons of weapons including conventional bombs, unguided rockets, machine gun emplacements. Each wing has 4 weapon hardpoints along with 2 under the belly.
L3 Technologies said OA-8 has shown accurate bombing skills in tests, but this information has not been confirmed. The manufacturer believes that the OA-8 version may be suitable for some countries’ duty requirements, but declined to elaborate. Experts say the manufacturer is targeting foreign customers with limited defense budgets that can’t afford modern fighter jets. OA-8 is both low-cost and still quite powerful.
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