A cropduster used as a COIN gunship. The AT-802U. I spotted this on the Stephen Trimple blog: The Dewline.
First of all, its made in Texas!
The company is known as Air Tractor. They operate out of Olney, Texas.
I live in West Texas all of my life (so far-49 years and counting). I've seen these type of planes for what seems like forever to me. I have a A&P license-but dont' use it anymore. I thought after I earned that ticket, that my life would improve - it didn't. I didn't get to work on very many airplanes. Pan Am's mechanics flooded the market when they went bust. I even thought taht I would be working on some cropdusters - but that never happened, saddly. But getting back to the AT-802U.
Second, it follows the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) principle. These smaller Air Forces need both a trainer and a light attack aircraft. And this baby does it. And thats why its heading to Paris and the Great Airshow that they hold there. Air Tractor even thinks that it can sell some of these babies to the American Air Force. I like the idea and its thinking outside of the box which is another plus in my book. However - the current USAF leadership has only fighterjocks on the brain. If it turns and burns and you can stick the name Stealth on the airframe somewhere - they go batty over it.
But submit this "Tail-dragger" to this current bunch is a lost cause. I mean - lets face it! Trail-draggers went out of style back in the good war. World War Two for Pete's Sakes!
This is getting off subject, but I have also heard and read here and there that there are problems with the fighter pilot types flying the UAVs. Like having hard landings and such. However, put gamers or better yet, folks who know how to fly radio control model airplanes - then the UAVs have a better safety record. I chalk this up to attitude. Again, if it turns and burns and you can tagged it with the moniker Stealth or put "Super-Cruise" engines on the damn airframe and charge billions of dollars - then the USAF will be yoru best friend.
Come up with something following the logic of KISS - Then that item is screwed and will not be approved for purchased by the United States' government. Try to save the taxpayer some $$ and they turn their sharp noses up in the air and away form good ideas.
And thats the sad part about all of this. This Air Tractor gunship MAKES SENSE! But I am affraid that we will never see the American "Star and Bar" on its fuselage or wings.
Check out this link (http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2009/06/photos-new-gunship-flies-to-pa.html ).