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U-28A Draco

The U-28A Draco provides airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of humanitarian operations, search and rescue, and special operations missions.

A U-28A Draco fixed-wing aircraft, assigned to the 34th Special Operations Squadron, takes off from Hurlburt Field, Fla., Oct. 18, 2018. The U-28A Draco provides airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of humanitarian operations, search and rescue, and special operations missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joel Miller)

The U-28A provides a manned fixed wing, on-call/surge capability for Improved Tactical Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) in support of Special Operations Forces.

The U-28A provides a manned-fixed wing, on-call, surge capability for improved tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of Special Operations Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Background
The U-28A is a modified, single-engine Pilatus PC-12 aircraft and is part of the Air Force Special Operations Command manned, airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance fleet. Operational squadrons include the 319th, 34th and 318th Special Operations Squadrons, and the 5th and 19th SOS conduct the airframe’s formal training.

Mission
The U-28A provides manned fixed-wing tactical airborne ISR support to humanitarian operations, search and rescue and conventional and special operation missions.

Features
AFSOC fielded the U-28A fleet through the purchase of commercially available aircraft and subsequent military modification to include tactical communications capabilities, aircraft survivability equipment, electro-optical sensors, and advanced navigation systems. The advanced radio-communications suite is capable of establishing U.S. Department of Defense and NATO data-links, delivering full-motion video, and transmitting secure voice communications. The U-28A benefits from outstanding reliability and performance, and the aircraft is capable of operating from short runways and semi-prepared surfaces.

Background
The diverse AFSOC mission requirements generated a need for small numbers of mission-specific aircraft which were procured rapidly to address specific mission needs. The U-28A is a modified, single-engine Pilatus PC-12 that operates worldwide.

The U-28A is part of AFSOC’s light tactical fixed wing fleet, formerly known as non-standard aviation.

The initial block of U-28 aircraft were procured and modified for use in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

All U-28A aircraft are maintained through contractor logistics support.

General Characteristics
Crew:  2 Pilots, 1 Combat Systems Officer, 1 Tactical Systems Operator
Builder:  Pilatus Aircraft Ltd
Power Plant:  Pratt-Whitney PT6A-67B
Thrust:  1,200 horsepower
Wingspan:  53 feet 3 inches (16.23 meters)
Length:  47 feet 3 inches (14.4 meters)
Height:  14 feet (4.25 meters)
Speed:  220 knots
Range:  1,500 nautical miles
Ceiling:  30,000 feet
Maximum Takeoff Weight:  10,935 lbs
Deployment Date:  2006
Unit Cost:  $16.5 million
Inventory:  Active duty, 28; Reserve/ANG, 0
 
(Current as of March 2021)

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