L3Harris will produce 75 surveillance and strike aircraft for SOCOM

US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has chosen L3Harris in competition to develop a low-cost aircraft capable of both surveillance and strike missions.

The contract, worth up to $3 billion, will see the US firm and its partner Air Tractor produce 75 Sky Warden aircraft, along with training systems, support equipment and spare parts.

Initial production will take place at Air Tractor’s facility in Texas.

Once the aircraft are manufactured, L3Harris will only modify them into the Armed Overwatch mission configuration and will integrate the weapons systems starting in 2023.

The modified Sky Warden is expected to reach initial operational capability in 2026 and full operational capability in 2029.

Armed Overwatch program

Launched in 2020 Armed control The program is aimed at the acquisition of turboprop aircraft to support commandos conducting irregular combat operations in difficult locations.

This comes as China and Russia continue to expand their aircraft and air defense systems.

After demonstrations and evaluations, SOCOM narrowed the competition down to three competitors: L3 Harris’ AT-802U Sky Warden, Sierra Nevada’s MC-145B Coyote, and Textron Aviation’s AT-6 Wolverine.

With L3Harris selected as the winner of the Armed Overwatch competition, its Sky Warden aircraft will replace the existing U-28A Draco reconnaissance, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft.

It will be reconfigured to carry high-yield munitions, including surface-to-air missiles, precision missiles and 50-caliber guns.

Providing close air support

L3Harris explained that their Sky Warden aircraft will help meet SOCOM’s current needs for a “deployable, sustainable” single-engine, fixed-wing aircraft system.

It reportedly provides close air support, precision strikes, command and control, and armed ISR capabilities in difficult operating conditions.

“A critical part of our Trusted Disruptor strategy is listening carefully to the needs of warfighter commanders and responding faster than new threats,” L3Harris, Chief Executive Officer. Christopher Yavseevich Kubasik said in a press release.

“We want to provide U.S. special operators with game-changing modular solutions for their toughest missions, and the Sky Warden does just that.” L3Harris will produce 75 surveillance and strike aircraft for SOCOM

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