IOMAX, based in Mooresville, North Carolina USA introduced Block III version of its Archangel Border Patrol Airplane, based on the Thrush S2R-T660 turboprop at the 2015 Paris Air Show.
The Block III is a new armed reconnaissance variant with improved capabilities, than the Block I and Block II, which are based on Air Tractor AT-802.
During the process of fielding the first generation BPA, IOMAX encountered several limiting factors, as would be expected with any first generation product. During the integration of the Block 1 and 2 AT-802 based BPAs, the aircraft mission capability was hindered due to the many modifications required to transform the aircraft from a crop duster to a medium altitude, weaponized, ISR platform.
During this developmental process, it became obvious that in order to maximize the many benefits associated with this type of airplane – such as simplicity of design and the ability to carry large amounts of fuel and weapons – the design and integration process should run parallel to the manufacturing process. This would allow the airplane to be purpose-built around the mission versus the mission being built around the capabilities and limitations of the airplane.
To this end, IOMAX selected Thrush Aircraft’s S2R-T660 aircraft as the basis for the next generation BPA. IOMAX also established an exclusive relationship with Thrush Aircraft and jointly invested in the design and development of the Archangel, the next generation, purpose-built BPA.
The Archangel improvements include an elevated rear cockpit ergonomically designed as a functional crew position by repositioning the cockpit forward on the airframe. This yielded pilot visibility and ergonomics more suited for long endurance flight operations.
Additionally, IOMAX improved the man machine interface, added self-sealing fuel tanks, ballistic protection, an enhanced composite propeller to reduce audible signature and provide better high altitude performance, an oxygen supply system and increased the cruise speed.
The result is a mission aircraft that allows operations in medium threat environments, with a service ceiling of 25,000 feet, speeds in excess of 210 KTAS (clean, 10,000 ft), over 9 hours loiter at altitudes that make it inaudible to ground threats, and highly integrated military mission avionics.
The Archangel’s design supports air component requirements for counterinsurgency (COIN), armed reconnaissance (AR), close air support (CAS), forward air control (airborne) (FAC(A)) and combat search and rescue (CSAR).
It is a very affordable platform with low acquisition cost and a typical flying hour cost well below $1,000. The
Communications options include at least three secure radios, HF radio and streaming video datalink compatible with the Remote Operated Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER).
The Archangel is uniquely equipped with a high performance EO/IR reconnaissance and targeting capability combining a suite of precision strike weapons that can execute precision strike missions with low collateral damage against both moving and fixed targets. The EO/IR system allows for wide area search and also magnification for identification.
The Archangel carries munitions similar to existing fixed wing attack aircraft and helicopters, including 2.75” (70 mm) Laser Guided Missiles, Hellfire AGM-114 Missiles, and GBU-58 and GBU-12 Paveway II Laser Guided Bombs.
Load out examples include 48 precision laser guided 2.75” missiles or 12 Hellfire missiles or 6 Paveway II guided MK81 or MK82 bombs.
With over 750 hours operating armed / ISR versions of the Block 1 and Block 2 BPAs – including delivery of over 150 laser guided bombs, missiles, and rockets.
The Archangel offers a fully integrated Flight Management System (FMS), Heads Up Display (HUD), Wescam MX-15 EO/IR sensor, Tactical System Computer (TSC) and video downlink. All of these systems along with internal and external lighting are fully Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible.
The Block I and Block II is operated by UAE and Jordan.