Friday, January 27, 2023

US Air Force to receive air tractors for strike missions

The U.S. Air Force plans to receive Sky Warden strike aircraft which was developed on Air Tractor’s AT-802U platform.

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall selected Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma, as the sole candidate location to replace its MC-12 Liberty with the AT-802U Sky Warden and to convert the MC-12 Formal Training Unit to the AT-802U Total Force Integration FTU.

Will Rogers ANGB will receive 28 AT-802Us and about 80 personnel to support the mission of the 310th Special Operations Squadron. The squadron will relocate from Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, to Will Rogers ANGB, creating an active association with the 185th SOS.

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The AT-802 Sky Warden is a multi-role platform capable of close air support, armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and precision strike missions in support of geographically isolated special operations forces.

Sky Warden is based on the rugged and capable Air Tractor AT-802, which features the largest payload capacity of any single engine turboprop aircraft. It hosts L3Harris’ world-class family of communications, sensors and airborne ISR solutions.

Sky Warden’s name commemorates two best-in-class, multi-mission special operations combat platforms. It merges the deep history of the Vietnam era A-1E Sky Raider with the present-day U-28, which uses the callsign “Warden” during combat operations. Sky Warden combines their heritage and capabilities to collapse the stack, providing one aircraft capable of multiple mission roles.

A site survey at the candidate location is scheduled in spring 2023 and will assess operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure and manpower.

Once the site survey is complete, the Department of the Air Force will conduct an environmental impact analysis, which is expected to be complete in fall 2023, before a final basing decision is made.

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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
Defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.

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