Thursday, August 6, 2009

Crop Duster Becomes Close Air Support

I saw this on the news tonight, and luckily found an article on it.

Meet the Air Tractor AT-802U. Have some crop dusters filling up your airplane dealership? Can't sell them to farmers? Hey, uparmor them, add a gatling gun, some hard points for rocket pods and bombs, and sell them to various gub'mints around the world.

You have to admit, these suckers are built to carry large volumes of liquid, have excellent low speed handling characteristics, unimproved airfield operations capability, along with cockpits that provide the pilot with an excellent view. They'd likely make a pretty good close air support platform, as long as the other side doesn't have ground to air missile capabilities.

A fascinating idea and another example of great American ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

More information is available here.

Snow said the airplane is being marketed as a counter-insurgency craft.

He said the plane has a maximum airspeed of 210 miles per hour and it can stay aloft for more than 10 hours.

“It can be used for missions for intelligence gathering and surveillance. It would fly at about 160 miles per hour for patrolling,” he said.
(emphasis mine)

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