Get Prepared for Sky Warden: First Supply Set for October

U.S. Particular Operations Command will begin accepting supply in October of Sky Warden, the modified crop-duster that received its Armed Overwatch competitors final 12 months. Already in low-rate manufacturing, SOCOM is anticipating 26 plane as a part of low-rate preliminary manufacturing.

These plane will undergo operational testing and a full-rate manufacturing determination will comply with as quickly as March 2025, a SOCOM spokesman informed Air & Area Forces Journal. The low-rate manufacturing determination was first reported by FlightGlobal. 

All informed, SOCOM plans to accumulate 75 Sky Warden plane to fly surveillance, shut air assist, and precision strike missions in austere however permissive environments, similar to counter-insurgency operations in Africa or the Center East. SOCOM and Air Power Particular Operations Command officers have mentioned they presently depend on quite a lot of completely different plane to carry out these features individually and need one platform to “collapse the stack.” 

Sky Warden, chosen by SOCOM in August 2022, was developed in collaboration by L3Harris and Air Tractor. Primarily based on the AT-802 plane, which is used for agriculture and firefighting, it’s rugged, with chunky tires constructed for primitive airfields and a NASCAR-style roll cage to guard the two-man crew. 

Designed to be modular, able to swapping out completely different sensors, communications gear, and fight payloads as wanted, Sky Warden has “the most important payload capability of any single turbine engine plane,” L3 Harris claims. 

“You may outfit the plane with a strong suite of sensors that may exceed what is offered with most devoted ISR platforms right now,” mentioned then AFSOC commander Lt. Gen. James C. “Jim” Slife in 2022, now deputy Air Power chief of employees for operations. “Or you’ll be able to outfit the platform with a strong suite of precision munitions. It actually depends upon the mission. Clearly, the Armed Overwatch platform isn’t a panacea for each tactical scenario {that a} floor pressure may discover themselves in. However for what we envision the enduring counter-[violent extremist organization] mission trying like, we predict it’s a prudent funding.”   

As a result of Sky Warden relies on an present system, L3Harris has claimed it may be delivered in lower than 12 months. An October 2023 supply date can be barely out of that timeframe, because the plane are modified for navy use. An L3Harris spokesperson referred remark to SOCOM. 

Plans for the plane to succeed in preliminary operational functionality and full operational functionality stay on monitor although, with the Particular Operations Command spokesman saying IOC is scheduled for September 2025 and FOC is about for September 2029. Each dates are on the tail finish of previously-stated timelines for fiscal 2025 and 2029. 

The Air Power has mentioned it plans to base its formal coaching unit for Sky Warden at Will Rogers Air Nationwide Guard Base, Okla., changing the MC-12W Liberty and its schoolhouse there. The service mentioned it intends to put 28 plane and about 80 personnel as a part of the unit, with an official stand-up within the second quarter of 2024.