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Pilatus U-28

Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) Aircraft

Switzerland | 2006

"The U-28A is an ISR-centric U.S. special forces reworking of the civilian-minded Pilatus PC-12 turboprop-powered utility aircraft."

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Pilatus U-28 Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) Aircraft.
1 x Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67B turboprop engine developing 1,200 horsepower driving a four-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
253 mph
407 kph | 220 kts
Max Speed
30,003 ft
9,145 m | 6 miles
Service Ceiling
1,740 miles
2,800 km | 1,512 nm
Operational Range
2,000 ft/min
610 m/min
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Pilatus U-28 Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) Aircraft.
47.2 ft
14.40 m
O/A Length
53.3 ft
(16.25 m)
O/A Width
13.9 ft
(4.25 m)
O/A Height
11,023 lb
(5,000 kg)
Empty Weight
11,023 lb
(5,000 kg)
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Pilatus U-28 Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) Aircraft .
None. Mission equipment consists solely of sensors and systems related to the airborne ISR role.
Notable series variants as part of the Pilatus U-28 family line.
U-28 - Base Series Designation.
U-28A - Primary operational service model.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/14/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

In the mid-2000s, during the height of American involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters of war, United States Special Operations COMmand - US SOCOM - required a budget-friendly (commercially-available) light utility aircraft capable of fulfilling very-mission-specific parameters for its special forces missions. The result was the reimagining of the Swiss-originated Pilatus PC-12 passenger/cargo aircraft to become the "U-28". Since their inception, the fleet has been used for a myriad of special-minded tasks including mission support through (manned) tactical Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Search and Rescue (SAR), and humanitarian operations support.

The PC-12 series has seen formal operations since introduction in 1994 and over 1,700 have been built to date - marking it a successful aircraft design for Swiss-based Pilatus Aircraft.

All of the form and function of the original civilian market PC-12 is retained in the U-28 including its single engine layout, crew/passenger cabin, low-mounted wing mainplanes, and single-rudder "T-style" tail unit. A retractable tricycle wheeled undercarriage allows for ground-running. Beyond inherent reliability and excellent performance from its nose-mounted turboprop, the U-28 also showcases short-field / rough-field capabilities.

Where differences end between the U-28 and its civilian market counterpart is in the installed equipment: the platform bristles with tactical communications sets, Electro-Optical (EO) sensors, protected data-links (DoD and NATO types support), real-time full-motion video processing, and survivability systems. These systems result in special protrusions emanating from the fuselage and wing members and not seen in the commercial model.

The U-28's crew consists of four personnel made up of two pilots, a Combat Systems Officer (CSO), and Tactical Systems Officer (TSO). The crew is seated side-by-side in a 2x2 arrangement in the cabin. The instrument panel includes an all-modern glass cockpit.

Power is served from a single Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67B turboprop engine installed at the nose and used to drive a four-bladed propeller unit in conventional "tractor" fashion. This provides the aircraft with a maximum speed of around 220 knots, a range out to 1,500 nautical miles, and a service ceiling up to 30,000 feet. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) reaches 11,000 lb.

The United States Air Force has operated as many as twenty-eight U-28A models with 14 currently (2020) noted as in-service with the branch. The 34th, 318th, and 319th Special Operations Squadrons are listed as key operators of the type while the 5th and 19th Special Operations Squadrons are charged with the types training.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

May 2020 - U.S. SOCOM is intending to replace its in-service fleet of U-28 aircraft with the winner of the USAF's "Armed Overwatch" program.

Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Pilatus U-28. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 28 Units

Contractor(s): Pilatus Aircraft - Switzerland
National flag of the United States

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Image of the Pilatus U-28
Image from the United States DoD DVIDS imagery database; Public Release.

Going Further...
The Pilatus U-28 Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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