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CX747
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L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Tue Aug 02, 2022 12:01 pm

L3Harris & Sky Tractor have won the armed overwatch contract for SOCOM. They look to be fielding the aircraft quite quickly and have plans for 75 aircraft spread over several squadrons.


https://www.defensenews.com/air/2022/08 ... ch-effort/
 
DiamondFlyer
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Tue Aug 02, 2022 1:13 pm

That's a surprise. They're going to need the 75 airframes simply for attrition due to ground loops.
 
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JetBuddy
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Tue Aug 02, 2022 10:04 pm

Congrats L3 and Sky Tractor. Very interesting planes.
 
MohawkWeekend
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Thu Aug 04, 2022 1:04 am

If they could figure a way to make them quiet, I think they'd be much more effective. Just like helo's, you aren't going to sneak up on anyone with these planes. Ground fire will still bring them down.

Can they copy the technology from the Lockheed YO-3 Quiet Star?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_YO-3_Quiet_Star
 
JayinKitsap
Posts: 3046
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Thu Aug 04, 2022 6:17 am

It seems Sky Tractor came out of the blue on this one, at least for me, It is stout competition, 6,000 LB payload with the armor and mods in the empty weight. A lot for a single engine Some other links


https://theaviationgeekclub.com/socom-s ... h-program/

https://www.l3harris.com/newsroom/press ... ocom-armed

https://engage.l3harris.com/sky-warden

https://802u.com/aircraft-specifications/

Another version of the aircraft is for Fire,https://at802f.com/seat-operations/initial-attack-firefighter/
 
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Spacepope
Posts: 6045
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Thu Aug 04, 2022 2:33 pm

JayinKitsap wrote:
It seems Sky Tractor came out of the blue on this one, at least for me, It is stout competition, 6,000 LB payload with the armor and mods in the empty weight. A lot for a single engine Some other links


https://theaviationgeekclub.com/socom-s ... h-program/

https://www.l3harris.com/newsroom/press ... ocom-armed

https://engage.l3harris.com/sky-warden

https://802u.com/aircraft-specifications/

Another version of the aircraft is for Fire,https://at802f.com/seat-operations/initial-attack-firefighter/


I'm not sure where you came up with regarding "out of the blue", they've been using AT-800 series CAS aircraft in the ME quite sucessfully for the past few years. Sems to be a pretty proven aircraft, and looking at what it's replacing, a bit more heavily armed than the PC-12.
 
GDB
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Thu Aug 04, 2022 8:19 pm

Always a good site, mainly historic but with plenty of news too;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OloKDSNe10U
 
MohawkWeekend
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Thu Aug 04, 2022 8:31 pm

Wouldn't drones be a better investment?

Imagine a quiet drone that could carry a couple of 82 mm mortar rounds.
 
GDB
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Fri Aug 05, 2022 6:08 am

MohawkWeekend wrote:
Wouldn't drones be a better investment?

Imagine a quiet drone that could carry a couple of 82 mm mortar rounds.


As the video above mentioned, it’s what you would expect I agree, however SOCOM clearly see some roles with crewed overwatch as vital.
You might argue aside from situational awareness, with the two presumably highly specialized SOCOM crew, it also makes collateral damage less likely, for those targets that the ‘blade’ Hellfire version as used of shred the ambitions of Al Queda’s leader cannot be used.
 
CX747
Topic Author
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Sat Aug 06, 2022 12:03 am

Spacepope wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
It seems Sky Tractor came out of the blue on this one, at least for me, It is stout competition, 6,000 LB payload with the armor and mods in the empty weight. A lot for a single engine Some other links


https://theaviationgeekclub.com/socom-s ... h-program/

https://www.l3harris.com/newsroom/press ... ocom-armed

https://engage.l3harris.com/sky-warden

https://802u.com/aircraft-specifications/

Another version of the aircraft is for Fire,https://at802f.com/seat-operations/initial-attack-firefighter/


I'm not sure where you came up with regarding "out of the blue", they've been using AT-800 series CAS aircraft in the ME quite sucessfully for the past few years. Sems to be a pretty proven aircraft, and looking at what it's replacing, a bit more heavily armed than the PC-12.


Very true. The AT-800 has been in use by several folks in the ME and Northern Africa with stellar results. The avionics in the new bird are very well thought out. This aircraft will put a ton of capabilities into 1 airframe. That's exactly what the Command is looking to do. The Draco has crushed it but my Uncle is looking to take the next step. One aircraft for overwatch and strike, with a multitude of sensors and strike capabilities.
 
CX747
Topic Author
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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 2:54 am

Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Sat Aug 06, 2022 12:10 am

MohawkWeekend wrote:
Wouldn't drones be a better investment?

Imagine a quiet drone that could carry a couple of 82 mm mortar rounds.


A drone doesn't have anywhere near the capabilities of what we are discussing. Overall, two guys in the AT-800, with the avionics, sensors and weapons layout they have is far superior. 20+ years of operations have led to this request.
 
JayinKitsap
Posts: 3046
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Sat Aug 06, 2022 3:51 am

Spacepope wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
It seems Sky Tractor came out of the blue on this one, at least for me, It is stout competition, 6,000 LB payload with the armor and mods in the empty weight. A lot for a single engine Some other links


https://theaviationgeekclub.com/socom-s ... h-program/

https://www.l3harris.com/newsroom/press ... ocom-armed

https://engage.l3harris.com/sky-warden

https://802u.com/aircraft-specifications/

Another version of the aircraft is for Fire,https://at802f.com/seat-operations/initial-attack-firefighter/


I'm not sure where you came up with regarding "out of the blue", they've been using AT-800 series CAS aircraft in the ME quite sucessfully for the past few years. Sems to be a pretty proven aircraft, and looking at what it's replacing, a bit more heavily armed than the PC-12.


Past articles going back a few years, like The War Zone seemed to indicate that the Bronco II and the Textron Aviation Defense AT-6E Wolverine were the favored contenders including those two going thru a major demonstration evaluation by SOCOM. Or some reporters are supported by certain companies, as we know happens a lot.
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/m ... ch-mission
 
CX747
Topic Author
Posts: 6978
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 2:54 am

Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Sat Aug 06, 2022 7:31 pm

JayinKitsap wrote:
Spacepope wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
It seems Sky Tractor came out of the blue on this one, at least for me, It is stout competition, 6,000 LB payload with the armor and mods in the empty weight. A lot for a single engine Some other links


https://theaviationgeekclub.com/socom-s ... h-program/

https://www.l3harris.com/newsroom/press ... ocom-armed

https://engage.l3harris.com/sky-warden

https://802u.com/aircraft-specifications/

Another version of the aircraft is for Fire,https://at802f.com/seat-operations/initial-attack-firefighter/


I'm not sure where you came up with regarding "out of the blue", they've been using AT-800 series CAS aircraft in the ME quite sucessfully for the past few years. Sems to be a pretty proven aircraft, and looking at what it's replacing, a bit more heavily armed than the PC-12.


Past articles going back a few years, like The War Zone seemed to indicate that the Bronco II and the Textron Aviation Defense AT-6E Wolverine were the favored contenders including those two going thru a major demonstration evaluation by SOCOM. Or some reporters are supported by certain companies, as we know happens a lot.
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/m ... ch-mission


I can understand that viewpoint. The T-6 is a good aircraft but for this set of requirements, it actually failed in certain areas. As for the Bronco II, it had an uphill battle in a multitude of arenas. The AT-800 series, in the manner put forward by L3Harris, is truly a next "level" offering that combines a whole bunch of wants, in 1 package, that really delivers.
 
JayinKitsap
Posts: 3046
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2005 9:55 am

Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Sat Aug 06, 2022 9:22 pm

CX747 wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
Spacepope wrote:

I'm not sure where you came up with regarding "out of the blue", they've been using AT-800 series CAS aircraft in the ME quite sucessfully for the past few years. Sems to be a pretty proven aircraft, and looking at what it's replacing, a bit more heavily armed than the PC-12.


Past articles going back a few years, like The War Zone seemed to indicate that the Bronco II and the Textron Aviation Defense AT-6E Wolverine were the favored contenders including those two going thru a major demonstration evaluation by SOCOM. Or some reporters are supported by certain companies, as we know happens a lot.
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/m ... ch-mission


I can understand that viewpoint. The T-6 is a good aircraft but for this set of requirements, it actually failed in certain areas. As for the Bronco II, it had an uphill battle in a multitude of arenas. The AT-800 series, in the manner put forward by L3Harris, is truly a next "level" offering that combines a whole bunch of wants, in 1 package, that really delivers.


Yes, a plane that has OK speed that is quite maneuverable, diving down to the deck to spray crops, rise quick over the wind rows with a useful load on a single engine of 8,100 pounds (after armor) and a fuel use of 71 gallon per hour. Further, a cost per hour in the hundreds, not $ 5,000 + per hour. L3 put together a package that is quite effective without a lot of fanfare. However the evaluators were probably thinking this was the right craft from early on in the competition. The proposed cost was probably the lowest also.
 
CX747
Topic Author
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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 2:54 am

Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Sat Aug 06, 2022 10:41 pm

JayinKitsap wrote:
CX747 wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:

Past articles going back a few years, like The War Zone seemed to indicate that the Bronco II and the Textron Aviation Defense AT-6E Wolverine were the favored contenders including those two going thru a major demonstration evaluation by SOCOM. Or some reporters are supported by certain companies, as we know happens a lot.
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/m ... ch-mission


I can understand that viewpoint. The T-6 is a good aircraft but for this set of requirements, it actually failed in certain areas. As for the Bronco II, it had an uphill battle in a multitude of arenas. The AT-800 series, in the manner put forward by L3Harris, is truly a next "level" offering that combines a whole bunch of wants, in 1 package, that really delivers.


Yes, a plane that has OK speed that is quite maneuverable, diving down to the deck to spray crops, rise quick over the wind rows with a useful load on a single engine of 8,100 pounds (after armor) and a fuel use of 71 gallon per hour. Further, a cost per hour in the hundreds, not $ 5,000 + per hour. L3 put together a package that is quite effective without a lot of fanfare. However the evaluators were probably thinking this was the right craft from early on in the competition. The proposed cost was probably the lowest also.


The AT-800 will allow for ISR overwatch of ODAs and others in an environment that doesn't have the same amount of assets in one place. Sensors, two bros and the ability to track, meet users info needs and ghost folks. The competition had some interesting entrants but overall, the winner was the whole package. It is nice to know though, that no punches were pulled and every entrant was run through its paces.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Sun Aug 07, 2022 5:20 am

Next ... folding wings! Just a few on a carrier to save the F18s and 'hawks from doing missions that don't need their capabilities. The "Someone go look at that ship and see what it is" stuff.
 
aumaverick
Posts: 262
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Mon Aug 08, 2022 12:14 pm

kitplane01 wrote:
Next ... folding wings! Just a few on a carrier to save the F18s and 'hawks from doing missions that don't need their capabilities. The "Someone go look at that ship and see what it is" stuff.


When was the last time a tail dragger was launched from a US carrier? :scratchchin: Would a tail dragger even be EMALs qualified?
 
MohawkWeekend
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Mon Aug 08, 2022 12:25 pm

A-1 Skyraiders during Vietnam. Probably doesnt need a cat for takeoff.

Actually not a bad idea for a carrier to have a few of them. Think about Iran's speedboats and pirates. Plus search and rescue.
 
IFlyVeryLittle
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Mon Aug 08, 2022 2:44 pm

From the Harris press release (I get 'austere" but what is a permissive environment?)

"for use in austere and permissive environments."
 
MohawkWeekend
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Mon Aug 08, 2022 3:02 pm

No SAMs
 
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LyleLanley
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Mon Aug 08, 2022 3:35 pm

aumaverick wrote:
When was the last time a tail dragger was launched from a US carrier? :scratchchin: Would a tail dragger even be EMALs qualified?


If even the mighty War Hoover could be deck launched, I have zero doubt one of these STOL, tail draggers could. Especially with 20 or 30 knots of wind over the deck.

IFlyVeryLittle wrote:
...I get 'austere" but what is a permissive environment?


If denied = heavily defended. Permissive = lightly/not defended.
 
aumaverick
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Mon Aug 08, 2022 3:59 pm

MohawkWeekend wrote:
A-1 Skyraiders during Vietnam. Probably doesnt need a cat for takeoff.

Actually not a bad idea for a carrier to have a few of them. Think about Iran's speedboats and pirates. Plus search and rescue.


Dang it! I totally blanked on the old Skyraiders!
 
MohawkWeekend
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Mon Aug 08, 2022 6:04 pm

Could this plane out turn a man-pad if the pilot knew it was coming?
 
Nean1
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Tue Aug 09, 2022 12:19 am

MohawkWeekend wrote:
No SAMs


It looks like an aircraft tailored to subjugate unarmed populations.
 
MohawkWeekend
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Tue Aug 09, 2022 7:08 pm

Here are a few in Africa None are in possession of SAM's yet. Mainly Toyota's with a Chinese Type 85 machine gun.
Abdullah Azzam Brigades
Al-Mulathameen
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
Allied Democratic Forces
Ansar al-Sharia (Derna)
Ansar al-Sharia (Libya)
Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia)
Ansar Bait al-Maqdis
Ansar Dine
Ansar ul Islam
Ansaru
Armed Islamic Group of Algeria
Al-Barakat
Boko Haram
Islamic Movement (Nigeria)
Islamic State in Somalia
Jabhatul Islamiya
Al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
Lord's Resistance Army
Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group
Al-Mourabitoun (militant group)
Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin
Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa
Muaskar Anole
Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem
Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
Ras Kamboni Brigades
Al-Shabaab (militant group)
Soldiers of Egypt
Tunisian Combatant Group
 
superbizzy73
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Tue Aug 09, 2022 7:59 pm

Still don't understand why the OV-10X wasn't even considered. Two engines, two crew, all set for ISR, Armed SAR, etc., able to operate from almost anywhere, it actually has cargo capacity...one could go on and on. Money definitely wasn't the issue.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Tue Aug 09, 2022 10:03 pm

superbizzy73 wrote:
Still don't understand why the OV-10X wasn't even considered. Two engines, two crew, all set for ISR, Armed SAR, etc., able to operate from almost anywhere, it actually has cargo capacity...one could go on and on. Money definitely wasn't the issue.


The Leidos team on the RFP used the OV-10x Bronco II, based on my reading it seemed to be the one to beat in the competition, but it was L3 - Air Tractor that won. The Bronco II is a single engine vs the dual engine of the original Bronco. DOD competitive bids, if written well, identify specifications to be met which include things like time in service and its performance such as reliability. Often there is a scoring system for performance to assist in the evaluation. For example, in the T-7 trainer RFP it had minimum speed requirements, with added points for like 3 steps up from that ie 7 g min., 7.5, 8, and 8.5g had larger bonuses. I am sure there is a solid evaluation that is close to protest proof showing that the Sky Warden was the best proposal. Price is always significant, but other factors come into play as well.

The Sky Warden has a huge MTOW, an 8,100# useful load, a slower but decent patrol speed of 180, and an 8 hour loiter time. Nearly 900 made and in service in a couple dozen countries so spare parts are reasonably easy to obtain. It's an Ag plane, so probably priced accordingly.

https://theaviationist.com/2018/02/21/h ... bronco-ii/

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/3 ... -operators

https://802u.com/aircraft-specifications/
https://www.19fortyfive.com/2022/08/at- ... overwatch/
https://www.19fortyfive.com/2022/08/at- ... rces-love/
https://www.airforcemag.com/socom-picks ... overwatch/
 
superbizzy73
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Wed Aug 10, 2022 3:16 am

I still thought an upgraded version of the original twin-engine Bronco would gave been absolutely perfect. But, it is what it is...
 
MohawkWeekend
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Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Wed Aug 10, 2022 4:28 pm

I recall the noise an OV-10 made - you weren't sneaking up on anyone with that bird. But it was less than a UH-1 which isn't saying much!
 
JayinKitsap
Posts: 3046
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2005 9:55 am

Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Sat Aug 13, 2022 7:28 pm

Came across an article in Interesting Engineering, it has an excellent clip from 2019 discussing the plane. It's interesting, the first paragraph contains

In a rather unexpected move, the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has chosen L3Harris Technologies and Air Tractor, Inc.’s AT-802U Sky Warden system, which is based on an agricultural taildragger aircraft


In the video it discusses how it can have a very good targeting pod and the weapons used on the target, a lighter payload plane cannot carry both efficiently.

https://interestingengineering.com/inno ... ch-program
 
JayinKitsap
Posts: 3046
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2005 9:55 am

Re: L3 & Air Tractor win SOCOM contract

Mon Aug 22, 2022 4:04 am

Came across some youtube video's of the air tractor. Interesting in that it has a tubular truss body frame and a built up wing spar. Not much different than the prop fighters of yesteryear.

How it is built https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVNR3nJ5ztA

Sky Warden https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIJ1-I-GD1M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9EEhSRcwpE

ww.youtube.com/watch?v=wb4RIjqeE-A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhF5_suNXv8

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