The aircraft we present our readers is the U-28A, a single prop aircraft which was not designed as it is. It is actually a variant for another aircraft named the Pilatus PC-12 which was a single-engine and a turboprop aircraft built for purpose of main cargo flights. The PC-12 was designed and manufactured by the company named Pilatus Aircraft operating and based in Stan, Switzerland back in 1991. At that time the PC-12 was regarded as one of the highest and the best selling aircraft among all the other pressurized cabin and turbine-powered single-engine aircraft all across the world. The feat of the aircraft is evident from the fact that it still made deliveries until June of 2017.
Seeing the promise of the PC-12, the United States Air Force also showed interest in the aircraft’s capabilities and thus they redesigned the PC-12 to become their own aerial asset as the U-28A. The Air Force employed the U-28A for the following missions of the Air Force SOCOM (Special Operations Command).
The aircraft was added in Special Operations operational squadrons of 319th, 34th, and 318th. In addition to that Squadrons, 5th and 19th of SOCOM also used the U-28A as their formal training aircraft.
The U-28A was extensively sued by the United States Air Force for their ISR support for following operations as well.
- Humanitarian operations
- Search and rescue mission
- Special Ops missions
Its original version the PC-12 was able to lift a passenger payload of nearly 704 kg but it was then redesigned by the USAF to serve only the ISR missions and was always on call by the Air Force’s SOCOM.
Today we bring to you some of the lesser-known amazing facts about the U-28A Single Prop aircraft.
Services to SOCOM
The capabilities of the U-28A not only lie in its ability to carry onboard essential signals along with intelligence assets, but it is also able to make delivery of the critical payload as well as personnel.
The thing that makes the U-28A a desired aircraft for the ISR missions is that it is able to make short takeoffs and short landings on even the roughest of the runway strips. This features when coupled with the U-28A’s ability to deliver the highly classified mission cargo to anywhere in the world in a discreet manner makes it an invaluable asset of USAF.
As of now, there are only a mere 28 U-28As in active duty service of USAF’s Special Operations Command but they are still able to meet with all of their demands without a need to assemble a whole squadron of these U-28As. This was actually the feature that was behind USAF’s planning to maintain such an unconventional fleet comprised of the small and medium-sized aircraft.
In the 21st Century, the main priority for the Special Operations is nothing else than conducting the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions. This has been briefed into one abbreviation ISR which is also often known as C3ISR for the Special Operations which stands for Command, Control, Coordination, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.
This soup of Alphabets is changed upon the needs of the mission directive and is often made in the last minute of the mission panning along with what is going on for the operators. This seems to be such a big feat for U-28A to uphold but so far, the aircraft is upholding its service even under such difficult mission directives.
Due to the U-28A being an aircraft with a platform for the C3ISR mission, it has been equipped by the USAF with all sorts of the electronic intelligence equipment and the ground sweeping sensors which are all state-of-the-art. The purpose of equipping the U-28A with all these equipment is to keep the ground command post be informed about what’s happening around the aircraft in the skies.
In addition to this, the U-28A also inform the ground command posts as to what is going on around them and with this the ground command post keeps it forces mobilized for remaining vigilant for their protection.
As for a sudden change in the mission tempo, the whole of the mission can be restructured in just a little amount of time which is better to know before the operators of the U-28A find about it. For this, the USAF depend upon their highly advanced and specially modified fleet of civilian aircraft.
In addition to the United States, the armies of other countries have also made the modification to the PC-12 aircraft to make their own specialized ISR mission aircraft. Some other countries to have done so include the following.
The U-28A has the ability to keep itself discreet all the while performing the mission requirements for ISR purposes.
Powerplant & other specs
A single Pratt-Whitney PT6A-67B turboprop engine powers the U-28A, single-prop aircraft. This engine can generate a horsepower of 1100shp that can rotate its Hartzell composite propeller comprised of 5 blades for 1,700 rpm. This much propulsion allows the aircraft to fly at a speed of 528 km/h at an altitude of 30000 feet for a range of 3417 kilometers.
The aircraft has a maximum payload carrying capacity of 1290 kilograms with the takeoff weight being 4740 kg and the landing weight to be 4500 kg. The aircraft can easily accommodate 6 to 9 passengers on board on its Civilian version PC-12 but for the USAF used U-28A; it can accommodate 4 of the following personnel onboard.
- 2 pilots
- 1 Combat Systems Officer
- 1 Tactical Systems Officer
The unit cost of a single U-28 A is about 16.5 million dollars.