Texas-based Air Tractor has launched production of the AT-802U surveillance, precision strike and utility aircraft for an undisclosed foreign customer, chief designer Lee Jackson confirms.

Details about the order's size and identity remain secret at the request of the customer, Jackson says.

The converted cropduster parked on the static line also displayed a full array of weaponry, including an all-new precision glide bomb with 3m (10ft) circular error probable (CEP) accuracy in the 50kg (110lb)-class designed by Moog/FTS that is called the "border protection weapon" (BPW).

The AT-802 made its international debut last year at the Paris air show amid a global revival for aircraft optimised for counter-insurgency missions, which require low-speed envelope capability, long endurance and a mix of precision and standard weapons.

With the ability to carry a 4,000kg payload and 10h endurance, the AT-802U is able to carry a wide range of weapons and sensors, Jackson says.

On nine hard points, the static AT-802U carried two 50-cal GAU-19 Gatling guns, two BPWs, one AGM-114 Hellfire, four direct attack guided rockets (DAGR), two Mk82 (225kg-class) bombs and a launcher for unguided rockets.

In the fuselage beneath the nose, the AT-802 also carries a partially retractable targeting and surveillance sensor called the L-3 Communications Wescam MX-15Di.

Each GAU-19 is fed by a 2,900-round magazine stored in compartment between the cockpit and the forward fuel tank. The magazine can be removed to store extra sensors. Jackson says the space also could be used as a jump-seat for two people.

The forward fuel tank itself is an add-on since the AT-802U appeared in Paris, Jackson says. The 1,365 litres (360USgal) container nearly doubles the 1,440 litres fuel capacity in the wings.

Inside the two-seat cockpit, Air Tractor has integrated glass displays and sensor controls for both crewmembers. The MX-15Di imagery can be viewed in the back seat on a 17in display, while the pilot has a 6in screen. The imagery also can be transmitted by common datalink to the ground, a capability that Jackson says has been demonstrated for US special operations.

Source: Flight Daily News