The Orbital ATK AC-208II "Eliminator" is another entry into the growing field of Close-Air Support (CAS), light attack platforms with a secondary over-battlefield role of Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR). Such aircraft are tempting purchases for budget-minded air services due to their relatively low up-front procurement cost and reduced long-term maintenance / cost commitments. The AC-208II is a modified offshoot of the Cessna Caravan (Model 208) by Cessna / Textron Aviation and stands as the Block II version of the turboprop-powered AC-208 "Armed Caravan" / "Combat Caravan" with broadened tactical value.
The original Armed Caravan form has been flying since 2008.
The aircraft takes on a relatively unique form with its high-mounted wing mainplanes offering excellent lift and short-field operation. The nose section houses the engine fit, a single Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) turboprop of 675 horsepower driving a three-bladed propeller unit, just ahead of the side-by-side seating cockpit. The tail unit is conventional with a single vertical plane and low-set horizontal surfaces. The undercarriage is of a tricycle arrangement.
This military-certified aircraft is equipped with a High-Definition (HD) MX-15HD series EO/IR sensor and is a complete self-contained search, tracking and engagement machine. It can operate in day or night environments within reach of friendly forces on-the-ground and keep a watchful eye on enemy movements and established positions. The aerial system comes complete with a missile warning and countermeasures suite for enhanced survivability over the battlefield. The AC-208II is outfitted to carry up to 4 x AGM-114 "Hellfire" air-to-surface missiles, a one-time tank-killing weapon seen on the Hughes "Apache" series of attack helicopters, under its wing mainplanes (two per wing on dual-rail fittings). Available weapons stations also support 2.75" (unguided) seven-shot rocket pods (one pod per wing). The aircraft is equipped with Orbital ATK's own advanced targeting and Fire Control System (FCS) and the cockpit features armor to protect the crew during low-level fly bys in contested airspace.
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2018 - Northrop Grumman purchased Orbital ATK. As such, the AC-208 is now marketed as part of the Northrop Grumman parent name.
September 2021 - The AC-208 has been eliminated as a contender in the USAF's Armed Overwatch program.
Orbital ATK (Northrop Grumman) - USA Manufacturer(s)
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