The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has chosen L3Harris Technologies and Air Tractor to provide AT-802U Sky Warden aircraft for the Armed Overwatch programme.

The initial value of the indefinite-quantity, indefinite-delivery contract is $170m while the cost ceiling value is approximately $3bn.

The contract will see the delivery of up to 75 manned and fixed-wing aircraft.

L3Harris will work to quickly modify the Armed Overwatch prototype demonstrator from last year into a production configuration to deliver customer weapon system testing in nearly six months.

L3Harris chair and CEO Christopher Kubasik said: “An important part of our Trusted Disruptor strategy is listening closely to combatant commanders’ needs and responding faster than evolving threats.

“We want to deliver game-changing, modular solutions to US special operators for their hardest missions and Sky Warden does just that.”

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Construction of a fully modified Armed Overwatch mission-configured aircraft is expected to commence next year at L3Harris’ modification facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

It will be followed by the aircraft’s initial production at Air Tractor’s aircraft manufacturing facility in Olney, Texas.

Deliveries of around six new aircraft will be included under the Lot 1 low-rate initial production.

The multi-mission AT-802U Sky Warden fleet will address the USSOCOM’s requirement for a sustainable, deployable, single-engine, fixed-wing, crewed and cost-effective aircraft system.

The aircraft will deliver armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, close air support, precision strike, strike coordination and forward air controller needs for use in permissive environments.

The aircraft can also be deployed for irregular warfare missions.

Air Tractor president Jim Hirsch said: “The Sky Warden design reflects our commitment to America’s national security, and it will be equipped with everything we’ve learned manufacturing aircraft over the past 46 years.”