Private contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced that it has demonstrated the multi-role strike capabilities of the MC-145B Coyote aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida as part of the U.S. Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM) Armed Overwatch program. SNC is partnered with PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin Company for the program.
The MC-145B Coyote is a manned light attack aircraft designed to support U.S. special operations forces in permissive environments.
As noted by the company, the new plane is a significantly enhanced and modified version of the M28 short take-off and landing twin-engine turboprop, a utility aircraft currently operating in the some of the harshest environments across the globe including the deserts of Jordan, the extreme cold of Estonia, and the subtropical forests of Kenya.
The aircraft’s high wing, powerful engines and rugged, fixed tricycle gear are ideal for safe and reliable operations in the austere environments anticipated for the Armed Overwatch mission.
The MC-145B weapon system employs extensive airframe modifications including wing weapons pylons, a retractable sensor lift, additional fuel tanks and internal weapons launchers to accommodate state of the art sensor and weapons system technologies.
A new digital cockpit provides flight and mission data to the pilots while boasting training and logistics commonality with the U-28A Draco (Pilatus PC-12) surveillance aircraft.
The MC-145B features both a cabin and a C-130-style air-operable rear cargo ramp. The aircraft rapidly re-configures to air drop, paratroop and casualty evacuation roles while supporting self-deployment and resupply of forward operating locations without a reliance on strategic airlift assets.
“We approached the Armed Overwatch platform from a different direction, embracing the requirements for endurance, austere operations and weapons payload with a look toward supporting SOCOM’s future challenges,” said Robert Horky, senior vice president of Strategic Initiatives for SNC’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Aviation and Security (IAS) business area. “MC-145B Coyote’s unique configuration brings versatility in sensor and weapons employment to best meet SOCOM’s ever-evolving needs.”
Initial aerodynamic and flight modelling performed at SNC illustrate feasibility to deploy large, palletized munitions, including Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), from the MC-145B’s cabin. This capability, in conjunction with payload/power provisions for future long-range sensors and electronic warfare systems, is highlighted as a roadmap toward engagement in both traditional permissive environments and the near-peer fight.
Development of the MC-145B weapons system follows a longstanding collaboration between SNC and Lockheed Martin, previously seen with Special Operations Forces Global Logistics Support Services team (SOF GLSS) on AC/MC-130J fleet missions worldwide.
“The M28 turboprop has proven its value in forward-deployed military operations around the world where payload, endurance, short take-off and landing capabilities and exceptional low-speed handling characteristics are critical to mission success,” said Paul Lemmo, president of Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company. “SNC clearly sees how the future MC-145B variant can grow to take on new sensors, weapons, and equipment that can meet evolving operational needs.”
More than 100 M28 aircraft have been produced and delivered to customers worldwide in both commercial and military configurations.