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.
The nations of Iraq and Libya both operate the AC-208 series aircraft with Afghanistan set to take on its first (of seven) examples (by way of the United States Air Force) some time in 2018.
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.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓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.
37.6 ft (11.45 m)
52.1 ft (15.88 m)
14.9 ft (4.55 m)
4,729 lb (2,145 kg)
8,818 lb (4,000 kg)
+4,090 lb (+1,855 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Orbital ATK AC-208II Eliminator production variant)
1 x Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) turboprop engine developing 675 horsepower and driving a three-bladed propeller at the nose.
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