FARNBOROUGH, England, 20 July 2010. Agricultural crop duster aviation is meeting military airborne close-air support and airborne surveillance this week at the Farnborough International Airshow, as Air Tractor Inc. in Olney, Texas, is showing an aircraft designed originally to drop chemical pesticides from the air converted to drop bombs, shoot bullets, and gather intelligence.
The Air Tractor AT-802U single-engine turboprop, which has a .50 caliber machine gun and precision-guided weapons, is intended as a border surveillance aircraft able to operate from short, dirt air strips, if needed. The aircraft also is built especially rugged from the start to survive the rigors or agricultural aviation, which typically is subject to dirt, dust, insect and bird strikes, and hard landings on unimproved runways.
At Farnborough this year, Air Tractor is showing a new version of the AT-802U with a surveillance payload consisting of the L-3 Wescam MX-15Di sensor turret with electro-optical infrared target identification, laser target designator, and AeroComputers UC-5100 moving map system for real-time targeting.
The aircraft's flat-panel liquid crystal display cockpit screens are from Avalex Technologies, and enable both pilots to operate the sensor turret, as well as view imagery gathered from the sensor package. The rear cockpit has a 17-inch display with split-screen and picture-in-picture capability, and can show recorded imagery from the Avalex digital reorder. Data from the aircraft also can be shared with units on the ground via an L-3 CMDL downlink. The converted crop duster also has a glass cockpit with Garmin G600 EFIS for easy reading.
Operators also can fit the AT-802U with Lockheed Martin Hellfire/DAGR rockets, 2.75-inch rocket pods, and even with 500-pound laser-guided bombs. For more information contact Air Tractor online at www.airtractor.com.