US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has selected L3Harris Technologies and Air Tractor’s AT-802U Sky Warden aircraft for its Armed Overwatch program.
The program includes delivery of up to 75 manned, fixed wing aircraft, with an initial program contract award of $170 million and a cost ceiling of $3 billion.
The fleet of modern multi-mission aircraft will address SOCOM’s need for a deployable, sustainable single-engine fixed-wing, crewed and affordable aircraft system.
The aircraft will be used in irregular warfare operations to provide close air support, precision strike, armed Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), strike coordination and forward air controller requirements for use in austere and permissive environments.
“An important part of our Trusted Disruptor strategy is listening closely to combatant commanders’ needs, and responding faster than the evolving threats,” said Christopher E. Kubasik, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, L3Harris. “We want to deliver game-changing, modular solutions to US special operators for their hardest missions, and Sky Warden does just that.”
L3Harris expects to rapidly modify last summer’s Armed Overwatch prototype demonstrator into the production configuration and provide for customer weapon system testing in approximately six months. Production of new, fully-modified, Armed Overwatch mission-configured aircraft will begin in 2023 at L3Harris’ Tulsa, Okla. modification center, following initial production at Air Tractor’s Olney, Texas aircraft manufacturing facility. Six new aircraft will be delivered under the low-rate initial production Lot 1.
“Sky Warden will bring powerful and affordable close air support, precision strike, armed ISR, and command and control capabilities directly to special operations forces in the battlefield,” said Sean Stackley, President, Integrated Mission Systems, L3Harris. “We are ready now to begin work on this modern, multi-mission system for the SOCOM Armed Overwatch program.”
“The Sky Warden design reflects our commitment to America’s national security and the AT-802U will be equipped with everything we’ve learned manufacturing aircraft over the past 46 years,” said Jim Hirsch, President, Air Tractor, Inc. “The L3Harris team is an excellent partner, and our production and engineering staff are ready to immediately deliver this world-class product to our nation’s special forces.”