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Armed Variants of Agricultural Aircraft

robunos

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As invited by Aerofranz, a thread to discuss armed versions of agricultural aircraft.

Here's alink to start things off....


http://worldatwar.net/chandelle/v3/v3n3/articles/ayres.html

cheers,
Robin.
 

cluttonfred

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I remember reading that the so-ugly-it-grows-on-you Transavia PL-12 Airtruk or one of its variants was armed and used for counterinsurgency work in Thailand. I have no reliable sources to confirm that, however.

The twin rudders and twin elevators adopted here to ease loading chemicals (just back up the truck) might actually be desirable in a COIN aircraft. There would be plenty of control redundancy to help survive battle damage. If the control surfaces are sized right, you might even keep flying with one of the tail booms shot right off.

Besides, do don't even need to fire the weapons, as the looks alone of that plane should scare off the bad guys. ;D
 

frank

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I just read somewhere recently that Air Tractor is now offering an armed & armored variant of I think the AT-802.
 

AeroFranz

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Mole said:
The twin rudders and twin elevators adopted here to ease loading chemicals (just back up the truck) might actually be desirable in a COIN aircraft. There would be plenty of control redundancy to help survive battle damage. If the control surfaces are sized right, you might even keep flying with one of the tail booms shot right off.
I think there was indeed an instance of one Airtruck snagging a power line and returning to base with one less boom.

With big wings, and 1000+ HP turbine engines, AgPlanes certainly have a lot to bring to the fight. And austere field operations are pretty much standard.
Recent advances in miniature munitions, spurned by UAV development, could give these vehicles some pretty potent punch at reasonable prices. Visibility, endurance, and low-speed capabilities are unequalled, so you could do a lot of useful FAC work. I wouldn't dare flying an agplane against radar-guided SAMs and self-propelled AAA, but you could probably be survivable against MANPADS and heavy machine guns.
 

Retrofit

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Not exactly an agricultural aircraft designed as such:
The Morane-Saulnier (then SOCATA) "Rallye", due to its STOL qualities, has been developped both with an agricultural version ("Rallye agricole") and an armed version ("Rallye Guerrier"), with a lot more success for the latter version.
 

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cluttonfred

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I have been unable to find any specs or photos specific to the military variants of the Transavia Airtruk or even clarification on whether the aircraft reportedly armed by Thailand were purpose-built military variants or converted agricultural or utility models.

Presumably, the PL-12MIL or M-300 described as a "proposed multi-role utility transport, air ambulance, forward air control, light attack, counter-insurgency aircraft" in Wikipedia would have been based on the PL-12U utility version. The PL-12U came from the factory without the chemical hopper or spary equipment but with with pilot + 1 + 4 seating.

This view of a PL-12U gives a good idea of the cabin layout on the upper deck as you can just make out the headrest for the rear-facing single passenger seat behind the pilot. I can't attest to the layout on the bottome deck, however.



Photo by author Barry Schiff from the Airport Journals web site.
 

cluttonfred

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Right you are! I doubt that the set designers could have come up with anything wierder on their own. ;D

On a somewhat related note of so-ugly-it-scares-the-bugs-by-looks-alone, I though I remembered reading somewhere that there was a utility version (without the tanks and spray gear) of the PZL Mielec M-15 Belphegor jet biplane. That also seems like a very likely choice for conversion to a low-and-slow armed variant. Does anyone know of any such proposals?

 

ucon

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Hi all!
To Mole. I attached the table of 16 different variants of M-15. At least two variants were designed as utility transport. Chiev designer was Reomir Izmailov (MDB).
 

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AeroFranz

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XP67_Moonbat said:
Cool, it's the flying jalopy from "Mad Max: Beyond The Thunder Dome"

They didn't even have to work too hard to make it look like a post-apocalyptic machine... ;)
 

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ucon

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And world-legendary An-2:

1. An-3 (first with such number)
2. Well-known An-2F (Fedya)
3. An-2 (cn 1G2819) with UB-16-57U
 

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Just call me Ray

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Alexandre Julião said:
This kind of aircraft was ever converted to spraying chemical weapons instead of pesticides?

The closest I can think of was that they may have just used some off-the-shelf ag planes to spray "Agent Orange" in Vietnam. But of course that's just another agricultural application (or at least that was the honest intention).
 

robunos

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thought i'd better contribute something, as i started this thread.....

the Fletcher FD-25:-

http://www.aerospace.co.nz/aircraft/heritage-aircraft/fletcher-fu-25-defender

cheers,
Robin.
 

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cluttonfred

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I found a link to a press release on the armed variant of the Air Tractor AT-802...supposed to be shown at this summer's Paris air show. No pics or detailed specs, but there some interesting info in the text...dual .50 cal 3-barrel Gatling guns, 10-hour loiter with drop tanks, sounds like an insurgent's nightmare.

http://forums.jetcareers.com/general-topics/88057-wow-just-wow.html
 

AeroFranz

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An AT-802 would be quite less expensive than other airplanes offered in the role like Super Tucanos or Texan IIs. Of course it's also slower, but I doubt any of the aforementioned planes come close in terms of endurance, or payload carrying capability.
 

Matej

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Another entry in my "Le Bourget must see" list :)

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2009/06/photos-new-gunship-flies-to-pa.html

This link provides high-res photos.
 

Just call me Ray

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robunos said:
thought i'd better contribute something, as i started this thread.....

the Fletcher FD-25:-

http://www.aerospace.co.nz/aircraft/heritage-aircraft/fletcher-fu-25-defender

cheers,
Robin.

Don't know if that really counts since it's a counter-insurgency craft that was adapted into an agricultural aircraft :)
 

robunos

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Don't know if that really counts since it's a counter-insurgency craft that was adapted into an agricultural aircraft

okay, you got me.................. :-[ :'(

cheers,
Robin.
 

circle-5

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Here is a photo of the AT-802, taken today at Le Bourget, before the show…
 

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r16

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regarding the An-2 , a familiar sight in the preceding decades as it was the paratroop trainer for the national air league , ı have read there was an high altitude interceptor variant . Is it the An-3 pictured in the first page ?
 

cluttonfred

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Reviving an old thread, I just stumbled across this interesting note on a New Zealand web page about a Grumman Ag-Cat:

One little unknown fact about the Ag-Cat was that it was considered for use in Vietnam! Options that were looked at included dropping bombs, fitting light machine guns to the wings, using it as a field ambulance with pods strapped to the wings, or operating it as an observation aircraft at extremely low level. One Ag-Cat was sent to the Army for evaluation and the pilots thought it had tremendous potential, particularly given it could turn in areas only 200 feet in diameter! However, they felt that, in the end, they could not recommend the purchase of an old-fashioned biplane to the Pentagon when they were in a jet-orientated world!

Source: http://www.redcat.co.nz/Biplane_Flights_ZK-CAT.html

Does anyone know any more about the (presumably U.S.) Army flight trials of the Ag-Cat and/or any proposed armed Ag-Cat variants?

Cheers,

Matthew
 

yasotay

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Fixed wing close support and counterinsurgency aircraft are the perview of the USAF Inc. As it has that most antiquated of propulsion means, not to mention that it is an agricultural aircraft means they have likely not taken any notice of it.
The US Army has most likely not officially tested the aircraft.
 

robunos

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I've checked in Putnam's 'Grumman', and the Aerofax Minigraph 11, 'Grumman/Schweizer Ag-Cat', and there's no mention of any military evaluation. However, on page 2 of the Aerofax is the attached image, which may be the basis for any rumoured military evaluation of the Ag-Cat...

cheers,
Robin.
 

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cluttonfred

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Actually, the U.S. Army has challenged the U.S. Air Force over the fixed wing close air support role on several occasions. The Grumman Mohawk was operated as a very effective attack aircraft until USAF squawking shut it down. The Army also evaluated several light jets in an eventually unsuccessful bid to field their own close air support aircraft: Cessna T-37, FIAT G91, Northrop F-5 and Douglas A-4 if memory serves. The Lockheed Cheyenne helicopter was also an effort get close air support in the back door by fielding a helicopter with the speed and payload of a WWII medium bomber, also vehemently opposed by the USAF. See U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947: An Illustrated History by Stephen Harding for more on each.

So it does not seem that farfetched to think that the U.S. Army, not USAF, might have evaluated the Ag-Cat at some point. Given it's flight characteristics and payload it would make one hell of a rugged close air support aircraft in situations in which enemy aircraft were not a factor.
 

yasotay

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I have no argument that the U.S. Army has historically conducted investigation of fixed wing aircraft capable of conducting kinetic combat operations. The operative word is "historically". The only manned fixed wing aircraft the U.S. Army is interested in now days are the variations of non-kinetic C-12 and other assorted ISR aircraft they operate.


Unless someone can show me the results of the test effort I am comfortable saying that the Army has not conducted official test. That does not mean that a marketeer has not briefed them or an Army officer has not looked at the aircraft, but that is way different than a full test effort.
 

cluttonfred

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We don't disagree...since this appears to be have been a Vietnam era proposal, at least 40 years old, it is certainly history now. That said, I have worked with U.S. military colleagues of all services for many years, and I assure you that many in the U.S. Army would still gladly take over the fixed-wing close air support from the USAF if they could win the political battle to do so. The periodic efforts by the USAF to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the complete lack of USAF interest in developing a successor are proof that the boys in blue don't really want the CAS job in the first place.
 
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Do improvised combat cropdusters count?
Like the Croatian Cessna 188 Ag-Truck and PZL M18 Dromader.
http://forum.keypublishing.com/showpost.php?p=1648747&postcount=13
http://forum.keypublishing.com/showpost.php?p=1648970&postcount=14
 

yasotay

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Mole said:
We don't disagree...since this appears to be have been a Vietnam era proposal, at least 40 years old, it is certainly history now. That said, I have worked with U.S. military colleagues of all services for many years, and I assure you that many in the U.S. Army would still gladly take over the fixed-wing close air support from the USAF if they could win the political battle to do so. The periodic efforts by the USAF to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the complete lack of USAF interest in developing a successor are proof that the boys in blue don't really want the CAS job in the first place.
Sadly the USAF Inc. will tell you they are fully engaged in the CAS mission. They have a replacement aircraft, it s called Reaper. Also unfortunate is the fact that getting the Army to decide what they would give up if fixed wing combat aircraft suddenly showed up on their doorstep, would be a challenge.
 

famvburg

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I thumbed thru my copy of "The Ageless Ag-Cat", by William Shweizer, and no chapters mention the armed Ag-Cat and I didn't see a mention of it otherwise.
 

riggerrob

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Armoured AT-402 were sold to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency who used them to spray chemicals on drug plantations in Columbia.
 

cluttonfred

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I suspect that those were not DEA programs but Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotic and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) programs. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plan_Colombia

National Police Eradication Program (2000-2008 cost: $458 million)

This program is executed by a private company, DynCorp, under the supervision of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and operates out of Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. U.S. State Department-owned planes spray chemicals to destroy coca and oppium poppy crops in rural Colombia. From 2000 to 2008 more than 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) of crops were destroyed.

13 Air Tractor AT-802 armored crop dusters
13 Bell UH-1N helicopters
4 Alenia C-27 cargo planes
 

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