June 22, 2011 Andrew White, SHEPARD GROUP
Paris - ATK Missile Systems has revealed plans to integrate a series of 2.75-inch (70 mm) guided rockets onto its AC-208 Combat Caravan irregular warfare platform, company officials have told Shephard.
According to ATK's Defense Electronics Systems VP and GM William Kasting, the company is considering the integration of both the Direct Attack Guided Rocket (DAGR) and Guided Advanced Tactical Rocket (GATR) munitions onto the Cessna 208 platform.
The move will significantly boost the firepower of the aircraft in its existing configuration. The Iraqi Air Force for example, is operating 11 AC-208 Combat Caravans, three of which are armed with Lockheed Martin AGM-114M/K Hellfire missiles.
Kasting told Shephard that ATK was looking to go-ahead with a demonstration of Lockheed Martin's DAGR for the US Air Force later in the year but said financial issues could potentially hamper plans. Although the initiative is internally funded by ATK, Kasting did admit that a possible development contract could also be agreed with the air force.
At the same time, ATK is also considering integrating the GATR weapon which it has developed in collaboration with Elbit Systems. As with DAGR, the semi-active laser guidance munition is designed for fixed, rotary-wing and UAS platforms, according to Kasting. However, he conceded that there were no existing plans to test fire the munition from the Combat Caravan.
The Combat Caravan was primarily designed as an ISR platform and is fitted with L-3 Wescam's MX-15D EO/IR payload with integrated laser designator; AAR-47/ALE-47 Defensive Countermeasures System; VHF/UHF communications; full-motion video; and ATK's STAR mission system. In addition, Kasting said ATK was also considering the Thales I-Master SAR/GMTI payload.