A turboprop Cessna with Hellfire missiles is appropriate technology for air superiority and close air support in Afghanistan. The Cessna 208 Caravan is an American single-engined turboprop, fixed-tricycle landing gear, short-haul regional airliner and utility aircraft that is built by Cessna. The airplane typically seats nine passengers with a single pilot. There is a modified version for combat. Civilian Cessna 208 cost $2 to 2.5 million. AC-208 Combat Caravan is a Caravan with wing hardpoints. An ISTAR version built by ATK armed with Hellfire missiles is used by the Iraqi Air Force. The AC-208 received its combat debut in January 2014 when the Iraqi Air Force began employing it against insurgents in Anbar province.
Orbital ATK’s battle-proven AC-208 Armed Caravan and offers customers a highly-capable and cost-effective reconnaissance and ground attack capability with a critical offensive and operational over-watch capability in the Counter-Insurgency (COIN) fight. The Eliminator™ is able to find, fix, identify, track, target, and engage emerging and time-sensitive targets with its 2.75″ guided rockets and/or AGM-114 HELLFIRE missile payload, based on mission requirements.
The Afghans have been conducting about 40 strikes a week, almost double the roughly 25 strikes American aircraft perform.
It is far easier to train the Afghans to fly the AC-208 and they are easy to maintain.
Orbital ATK’s proven mission system
High definition cockpit / cabin monitors
Integrated fire control system
High definition EO/IR sensors with integrated laser designator
Reconfigurable weapons configuration
Dual Rail HELLFIRE Missiles (AGM-114); two missiles per wing
2.75″ Rocket Pods (APKWS, GATR or other guided rockets); one pod per wing
Missile warning and countermeasures system for a full range of threats
Ballistic panels for cockpit and mission systems compartment protection
Datalinks provide Line-of-sight (LOS) and Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) audio and visual communications
Flight data recorder / cockpit voice recorder
Cruise speed: 214 mph; 186 kn (344 km/h) true air speed
Stall speed: 70 mph; 61 kn (113 km/h) calibrated air speed
Range: 1,232 mi; 1,070 nmi (1,982 km)
Service ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,600 m)
Rate of climb: 1,234 ft/min (6.27 m/s)
Wing loading: 28.674 lb/sq ft (140.00 kg/m2)
The U.S. Air Force announced an $86 million deal with an American defense contractor Orbital ATK to supply single-engine, turboprop AC-208 airplanes to the Kabul government. The plane is called the Eliminator. It is designed to deploy with precision-guided munitions and surveillance systems, making them purpose-built for hunting down small groups of insurgent fighters.
Equipped to carry four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and two 70mm rocket pods capable of carrying a variety of precision rockets, the Eliminator will head into the fight alongside the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft that Afghan pilots already operate, allowing the two planes to team up while allowing the pilots to be in contact with the thousands of American troops freshly deployed to the war to help the government push back against two years of insurgent gains, in part by helping guide bombs onto targets.
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