AC-208 Eliminator Armed Caravan aircraft was ordered by the Afghanistan Air Force in March 2018. Image courtesy of Northrop Grumman.
AC-208 Eliminator carries four AGM-114 dual rail HELLFIRE air-to-surface missiles.
The aircraft features two guided rocket pods to destroy enemy targets. Image courtesy of BAE systems.

The AC-208 Eliminator Armed Caravan is an advanced reconnaissance and ground attack aircraft designed and developed by Orbital ATK. It was built based on the design of Orbital ATK’s AC-208 Combat Caravan light attack aircraft.

The aircraft is also referred to as the Block 2 version of the AC-208 Combat Caravan, which was originally built in 2009 under the US Combat Caravan programme. The Combat Caravan and the Eliminator are combat versions of the Cessna 208 Caravan utility aircraft.

Eliminator is a light attack platform, which can be deployed in close air support (CAS) and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

AC-208 Eliminator orders and deliveries

Orbital ATK has received a firm fixed price contract worth $86.4m from the US Air Force for the supply of seven AC-208 Eliminator aircraft in March 2018. The aircraft will be delivered to the Afghanistan Air Force (AAF) under the foreign military sales (FMS) programme.

The aircraft deliveries are expected to conclude in 2019.

AC-208 Eliminator design and features

The aircraft features a simple design with a modified high-wing monoplane structure. The robust design makes it an ideal platform to conduct combat and reconnaissance missions during day, as well as night.

“Eliminator is a light attack platform, which can be deployed in close air support (CAS) and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.”

Crew protection is ensured by the ballistic panels used in the cockpit construction and missile system segment.

The proven ground attack capability and the operational superiority of the AC-208 enhance its overall efficiency during counter-insurgency (COIN) missions. The aircraft can perform cost-efficient reconnaissance missions with high precision.

Avionics and mission systems

The cockpit of AC-208 Eliminator integrates a combat-proven avionics suite. It features large digital screens that provide high-definition visuals of surroundings and route maps. The displays present key information of flight characteristics and mission sequences to enhance the situational awareness of the pilots and other crew aboard the aircraft.

The aircraft is also equipped with high-definition electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors with integrated laser designator, as well as a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder. The communication requirements are served by beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) and line-of-sight (LOS) systems.

Other mission systems aboard the aircraft include advanced missile warning systems and countermeasure systems, which increase survivability of the crew against a range of threats.

The aircraft also comes fitted with an advanced targeting and fire control system and ISR mission solution.

Armament aboard AC-208 Eliminator

The AC-208 Eliminator features a highly sophisticated modular and reconfigurable weapon system. The firing power of the aircraft is assisted by four AGM-114 dual rail HELLFIRE air-to-surface missiles (ASMs). Each wing hard-point is attached with two missiles.

The anti-tank warheads of AGM-114 guided missiles can destroy long-range enemy targets, with high degree of accuracy. The maximum firing range of the AGM-114 guided missile is 8,000m.

The aircraft is also armed with 2.75in (70mm) rocket pods including the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) or Guided Advanced Tactical Rocket (GATR) or other guided rockets. Each wing is installed with a single guided rocket pod.

Engine and landing gear

The aircraft is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney PT6 series turboprop engine driving a three-bladed McCauley constant speed, reversible pitch propeller.

The under fuselage is fitted with a fixed tricycle landing gear, including a nose wheel unit and two main landing gear units with a single wheel each.