Due to the rise in "irregular warfare" there has been a growing interest by air services of the world in procuring affordable light-attack / Close-Air support (CAS) and ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) platforms. The Orbital ATK AC-235 fulfills this role and is being touted for its robust qualities and over-battlefield flexibility. Orbital ATK is the 2015 offshoot of the merger between Orbital Sciences Corporation and Alliant Techsystems centering on the aerospace and defense sector.
The AC-235 was a joint-development between Orbital ATK and the nation of Jordan. The company also holds experience in development of the MC-27J Praetorian, a gunship based off of the Italian Alenia C-27J tactical transport.
The AC-235 is categorized as a "light gunship" (the AC-295 being the medium-sized derivative) and is similar in battlefield form and function to the Lockheed AC-130. Like the AC-130, the AC-235 is built upon the framework of an existing fixed-wing platform, namely the Spanish CASA (Airbus Military) CN-235 transport. Orbital ATK offers its mission system (dual-color displays, Fire Control System) coupled with an EO/IR sensor with laser designation capability, synthetic aperture radar and a complete countermeasures fit. The cockpit sports a complete tactical display arrangement, protected data links, night vision equipment support, and armor protection (the latter for low altitude survivability). Weapons pylons are added to the sides of the fuselage and are cleared to carry AGM-114 "Hellfire" surface-to-air missiles as well as 70mm multi-shot rocket pods. A 30mm M230LF automatic cannon is seated within the fuselage to fire out of the side at ground targets below. The gun is fully trainable atop its mounting for added tactical flexibility.
The AC-235 retains the basic design arrangement of the C-235 hauler: It showcases a high-mounted monoplane wing arrangement with the wings set at midships. This provides the aircraft with good short-field qualities and clears the prop from damage and endangering ground personnel. Each wing has a single engine nacelle driving a four-bladed propeller unit. The cockpit is set overlooking the nose in the usual way and the tail is elevated. Within the fuselage are crew stations and processing systems while offering some customizing. Atop the aft section is a single, high-reaching vertical fin with low-mounted tailplanes. The undercarriage is a tricycle arrangement.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
70.5 ft (21.50 m)
84.6 ft (25.80 m)
17.0 ft (5.18 m)
22,046 lb (10,000 kg)
35,274 lb (16,000 kg)
+13,228 lb (+6,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Orbital ATK AC-235 production variant)
2 x General Electric CT7-9C3 turboprop engines developing 1,750 shaft horsepower each.
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