Air Tractor AT-802U Surveillance and Light Attack Aircraft, United States of America


AT-802U air tractor

The AT-802U surveillance and light-attack aircraft is a heavily armoured version of the AT-802 agricultural and fire fighting aircraft, developed by Air Tractor.

It is capable of performing ten-hour missions while carrying 3,629kg payload, which makes the AT-802U an ideal platform for surveillance and light-attack missions.

The multimission aircraft is deployed in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), precision-strike, command and control, counter-insurgency (COIN), close-air support, weapons training, forward arming and refuelling point missions.

The aircraft is undergoing a new weapons certification process, as its IOMAX mission systems have been replaced with new systems from L-3 Communications.

AT-802U design and armour

The AT-802U 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.

The aircraft offers sufficient fuselage and wing space for installing sensors and data-links. The spring-steel landing gear along with high-dust environment air induction system allows missions from unimproved airstrips and dirt roads.

The aircraft has a wingspan of 18m and wing area of 37.25m². Its empty weight with armour and without weapons is 3,703kg, and the useful load is 4,000kg when attached with ballistic armour.

Cockpit and avionics of AT-802U

The AT-802U integrates a tandem seat cockpit, which includes dual-flight controls, head-up displays (HUD), an electronic flight instrumentation system, a Wulfsberg Flexcomm tactical modular multi-band airborne FM/AM/UHF radio communications system, and a retractable L3 Wescam MX-15Di sensor turret system.

The optionally-fitted compact multichannel data link (CMDL) system is compatible with remotely operated video-enhanced receivers (ROVER). It provides the commanders a real-time view of the battlefield and also transmits live video feed to other aircraft, air operation centres, or joint-terminal attack controllers on field.

The night-vision-compatible cockpit allows the pilots to conduct unconstrained night missions. The aircraft also features an inflatable restraint system, which integrates a five-point harness.

Weapon systems

The wing and fuselage hard points can be armed with a range of weapon systems, including dual .50 cal. GAU-19/A three-barrel gatling guns, Hellfire missiles, dual M260 seven-tube rocket launchers, and 500lb Mk-82 bombs. The hard points can be increased to 15 to carry additional armament.

"The AT-802U aircraft offers higher speed and manoeuvrability than most helicopters, UAVs and cargo aircraft."

The armament aboard the aircraft can be launched with a high level of accuracy to minimise collateral damage.

Survivability of AT-802U

The aircraft features a crashworthy airframe, cockpit and engine armour, ballistic glass windshields and windows, as well as self-sealing fuel tanks, to offer superior protection to its crew members. The survivability can be further increased by installing an optional AAR-47/ALE-47 survivability system.

The field-repairable defensive armour enables the aircraft to withstand multiple bullet hits and can also be upgraded to defeat high threat levels.

AT-802U engine and performance

The aircraft is powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F turboprop engine driving a Hartzell aluminium propeller. The engine develops a maximum continuous power of 1,600shp at 1,700rpm. The fuel capacity of the aircraft is 1,438l, which can be increased by adding auxiliary fuel tanks.

The AT-802U aircraft offers higher speed and manoeuvrability than most helicopters, UAVs and cargo aircraft. It has a maximum speed of 394km/h and stall speed of 169km/h with flaps down. The patrol speed of the aircraft is 333km/h, and the maximum range is 2,414km when fitted with auxiliary fuel tanks.

The aircraft can climb at a maximum rate of 3,000ft/m, and requires a landing run of 366m, and a minimum take-off roll of 207m. It can perform 450 flight hours a year, at an average cost of below $400 per flight hour.