The United Arab Emirates has taken the wraps off two new light ground attack assets, with its Alliant Techsystems AC-208 Combat Caravan and Air Tractor AT-802U both making an appearance in the static park.

The AC-208U Combat Caravan brings a menacing new twist to the long story of the successful Cessna Caravan turboprop.

The aircraft boasts four hard points for the Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire anti-surface missile. The aircraft on display has two realistic dummy rounds mounted.

The grey liveried aircraft also has a sensor pod and a sensor operator’s station directly behind the pilot, and can carry ten passengers in a utility role.

UAV Combat Caravan

Greg Waldron

ATK has previously said that it equips the Combat Caravan with an L-3 Wescam MX-15D electro-optical/infrared sensor. An ATK-developed STAR fire control system allows an on-board operator to attack targets identified on the MX-15D.

Painted matt black, the AT-802U at the show features six hard points on the wings, two of which carry dummy bombs, plus an additional centreline hard point. The centreline hard point mounts an electro-optical/infrared pod.

According to Flightglobal’s MiliCAS database, the UAE has received 20 of 24 AT-802Us on order. MiliCAS lists the UAE has having seven Caravans, but it is not clear how many of these have been modified to the AC-208 configuration.

UAE Air Tractor

Greg Waldron

Major counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in recent years has created a market for light, inexpensive-to-operate turboprops that can provide ground support from spartan airfields. Other major types aimed at this mission are the Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano and the Beechcraft AT-6 Texan.

The Combat Caravan has also been obtained by Iraq and Lebanon. MiliCAS indicates that the UAE is the only air force to operate the AT-802U weaponised variant of the aircraft, although Burkina Faso, Croatia, Gambia, and Israel operate the AT-802 in a utility role.

Source: Flight Daily News