by Paolo Valpolini
Definitely not a huge stand, the Iomax booth at EDEX was however often packed with uniformed top brass from Egypt and other visiting delegations, eager to know more about the Archangel, the armed surveillance aircraft that is raising interest in many Middle East countries. Adopted by the United Arab Emirates since 2015, the UAE offered their Air Tractor AT-802 to other countries in the area, namely Jordan and Egypt, both of them being now interested in the latest development of that aircraft, the Archangel. A low-cost, long-endurance platform, ensuring 6 hours time on station in the armed configuration and 10 hours in the ISR configuration, it allows to handle a target in a much more cost-effective way than traditional solutions, usually involving a UAV, two fighters and often a refuelling aircraft, a document issued by the US Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) showing a cost ratio of 1:40; this is due not only to the fact that the Archangel can carry out both ISR and strike functions, but also to the fact that it can be deployed much closer to the area of operation compared to fast jets, even in a Forward Operating base, its fixed, reinforced landing gear, allowing take-off and landing on unimproved, dirt, grass and gravel surfaces of limited length. Similar solutions are also stemming interest in Western countries, i.e. for airborne command functions in airmobile operations, the aircraft having proved its effectiveness in that function during a US Marine Corps exercise.
With a Maximum Gross Takeoff Weight of 6,713 kg, the Archangel is powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F turbine providing 1,700 SHP driving a five-blade propeller, cruise speed being 180 knots with external stores. Fitted with a roll-cage structure to ensure maximum survivability to its two-man crew, the aircraft is 11 meters long and has a 17.4 meters wingspan, three hardpoints per side allowing to carry a considerable payload, a further centreline hardpoint allowing to host a dedicated pod with integrates ISR sensors and self-protection systems. The Archangel can currently be armed with GBU-12/58 Laser Guided Bombs, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, and CIRIT 2.75” Laser Guided Rockets. The crew is hosted in tandem seats and can profit of the digital cockpits, for flight and ISR/weapon systems management.
Iomax has been heavily investing in marketing in the last one and a half year, mostly in Africa, North-Africa and the Middle East, as well as in the Indo-Pacific region. Egypt has defined a requirement that has been forwarded through the FMS process and should soon be validated by the US Government, the request being for 12 aircraft.