Wed, Aug 01, 2012
Big Turboprop Offers Short-Field Capability With High Useful Load
By David Juwel
Federal and State budgets are having to be re-evaluated and cut-backs are being made. One of the areas being hit the most is Law Enforcement & Forestry aviation because it represents a high budget activity. Yet it is still very essential if the Law Enforcement and Forestry agencies are to continue providing the protection that the general public has come to expect.
An abundant number of aviation manufacturers have stepped up to offer their particular aircraft as the most economical solution; everything from powered parachutes to gyroplanes to basic general aviation aircraft. But having a cheap aircraft isn’t necessarily the solution. These aircraft must still be able to conduct the multi-faceted special missions these agencies need to perform. The useful load on some of these supposed solutions is just simply not up to the task.
In cooperation with Northrop Grumman, Quest Kodiak Aircraft has developed a solution that both meets a reduced budget and has the capacity to carry special missions equipment. Quest makes the aircraft and Northrop Grumman provides the technical might to incorporate and integrate special missions equipment into the aircraft. The name of their aircraft is the “Air Claw.” Quest believes the airplane is the most affordable and effective single engine solution available.
The aircraft has the ability to conduct surface and sea patrol using elector-optical and infra-red devices. It can carry out communications intelligence, signals intelligence, tactical communications, narrow band and wideband satellite communications using video and digital downlinks. A FLIR ball and a wide-area camera complement the suite. All of this is integrated into a mission computing system. Additional equipment can be installed and arranged according to the mission needs utilizing their rapid reconfiguration interior capability.
The aircraft carries 2 operators, plus an observer and a pilot. The airplane has the ability to operate in and out of 1,000’ strips. It can carry 2500 lbs of useful load and slow loiter at a stable 65 knots. A typical mission might consist of a 1-hour dash at high cruise, an 8-hour very stable loitering, and a 1-hour dash back out. With this equipment and flight capability, it allows the operators to be analysts, not just messengers.
Although there are other tactical aircraft that have greater useful load, range and speed over the Air Claw, Quest says that none of them can do it with the lower operating cost, and that’s the pressing need for today; mission capability accomplished economically.
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