Iraqi combat reconnaissance planes to get high-definition video reconnaissance avionics

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Avionics experts at Orbital ATK Defense Electronic Systems in Fort Worth, Texas, will equip combat reconnaissance versions of the Cessna 208 Caravan single-engine aircraft with high-definition video capability under terms of a $16.9 million order announced late last month.

Content Dam Mae Online Articles 2017 01 Cessna 208 9 Jan 2017
TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. –Avionics experts at Orbital ATK Defense Electronic Systems in Fort Worth, Texas, will equip combat reconnaissance versions of the Cessna 208 Caravan single-engine aircraft with high-definition video capability under terms of a $16.9 million order announced late last month.

Officials of the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., are asking Orbital ATK to develop a modification in Iraq to install five MX-15 HD systems and upgrade all Cessna 208 aircraft to HD video.

The MX-15 electro-optical sensor pod from L-3 Wescam in Burlington, Ontario, is for medium-altitude covert ISR, search-and-rescue, and similar kinds of surveillance missions. It supports as many as six sensors simultaneously, including visible-light cameras, infrared sensors, and laser rangefinders.

The Cessna 208 Caravan is a single-engined turboprop with fixed-tricycle landing gear built by Cessna Textron Aviation in Wichita, Kan. The plane was designed to carry a pilot and as many as 14 passengers for short-haul regional airline and utility aircraft applications.

The L-3 Wescam MX-15 has a zoom potter to enable the operator to balance magnification and field of view between moderately wide and ultra-narrow imagery. The system's high-resolution short-wave infrared (SWIR) camera provides imaging in haze and fog.

Related: L-3 to convert Cessna Caravan single-engine turboprop aircraft to surveillance platforms

The MX-15's turret has a four-axis gimbal with internal inertial measurement unit, image stabilization, common operator interfaces and hand controllers, and a map-based sensor management package that enables operators to control sensors from an intuitive interface.

The AC-208 Combat Caravan, which Iraq operates, carries an electro-optical sensor pod and other surveillance equipment. Some military variants of the Cessna 208 also can carry Hellfire missiles for ground-attack missions.

The AC-208 is a light attack combat aircraft from Orbital ATK, which is derived from the Cessna 208 Grand Caravan aircraft. The AC-208 is a counter insurgency aircraft developed to help rebuild the Iraqi air force.

The AC-208 is nearly 42 feet long with a 52-foot wingspan. It can carry more than two tons of passengers, fuel, cargo, and other payloads. The plan has a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-140 turboprop engine that can carry the aircraft at speeds to 185 knots and altitudes to 25,000 feet. It has Garmin G1000 avionics with GFC700 integrated digital automatic flight control system.

On this order Orbital ATK will do the work in Iraq, and should be finished by February 2018. For more information contact Orbital ATK Defense Electronic Systems online at www.orbitalatk.com, Cessna Textron Aviation at http://cessna.txtav.com, or the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at www.wpafb.af.mil/aflcmc.

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