LIMA: Air Tractor goes on the offensive

Langkawi
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Air Tractor sees opportunities to market its AT-802U single-engined turboprop light-attack aircraft in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

Speaking with Flight International at the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition on 26 March, vice-president for business development Charles Miller said the type offers a "low-cost solution for reconnaissance and attack".

Miller claims that at an example cost of around $3m before the addition of sensors and weapons, the AT-802U is one-third the price of an attack helicopter.

Kuala Lumpur's lack of a light attack capability was highlighted in early March 2013, when 200 armed intruders from the Philippines infiltrated the country's eastern state of Sabah. The Royal Malaysian Air Force attacked the insurgents with 226kg (500lb) Paveway laser-guided bombs dropped from four BAE Systems Hawk 208s and four Boeing F/A-18D Hornet aircraft, with the targets having been designated by ground units.

Some experts have said that light attack aircraft, such as the Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano, or attack helicopters would have been more suitable for the Sabah mission.

Miller says the AT-802U is easy to operate from primitive runways and requires little in the way of maintenance facilities.

"The Air Tractor is a good platform if you don't have unlimited funding resources," he says.

 

Air Tractor

Texas-based Air Tractor has previously sold its armed AT-802U to the United Arab Emirates. Flightglobal's MiliCAS database records its air force as having received 18 of a contracted 23 examples by late 2012.