ATK ANNOUNCED on December 4 it has completed the first flight test for the Kingdom of Jordan’s two CASA CN-235 light gunship aircraft at Fort Worth-Meacham International Airport, Texas, where conversion work was undertaken. ATK had announced on February 19, 2011, that it had been awarded a contract by Jordan’s King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) to modify two CN-235-100M transport aircraft into highly-capable and cost-effective special mission aircraft. It had been hoped the aircraft would appear at the recent Dubai Air Show but delays due to additional maintenance on the airframes meant it wasn’t possible, and instead the aircraft is expected to be launched at Jordan’s SOFEX Exhibition at Amman on May 6-8, 2014.
The two aircraft acquired for gunship conversion were 1990-built former Spanish Air Force aircraft, which were refurbished and painted in Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) colours by Airbus Military in the factory at Seville-San Pablo Airport, Spain, before being delivered to ATK for conversion. They were purchased by the RJAF for operation by the RJAF’s Special Operations Aviation Brigade.
With modifications and ground testing completed in its facility at Fort Worth, ATK has begun the flight test programme to validate the installed weapons and gun system. Upon successful completion of the test programme, the aircraft will be delivered to the Kingdom of Jordan to support the mission of the Jordanian Armed Forces.
“We are pleased that KADDB has selected ATK to provide this unprecedented capability to the Jordanian Armed Forces,” said Bill Kasting, vice president and general manager of ATK’s Defense Electronic Systems division. ”This programme will provide the Kingdom of Jordan with the first multi-mission gunship capability in the region. The start of the flight test is a major milestone achievement by the ATK and KADDB team.”
In collaboration with KADDB, ATK developed and provided the system integration and aircraft modifications to turn a CN-235 cargo aircraft into a multi-mission gunship. These modifications include installation of electro-optical targeting systems, a laser designator, aircraft self-protection equipment, a synthetic aperture radar and an armaments capability that can provide sustained and precise firepower in a variety of scenarios using Hellfire laser-guided missiles, 2¾in rockets and a side-mounted M230 link-fed 30mm chain gun. The gun is automatically aligned to the target, cued by a camera in conjunction with the mission management and fire control solution. These capabilities are integrated with and controlled by ATK’s Mission System, which provides both day and night reconnaissance and fire control capabilities, and the ability to acquire, monitor and track items of interest. ATK’s M230 family of guns serves on the Apache helicopter.
In October the company delivered the second Hellfire capable Cessna AC 208B to the Lebanese Air Force, some four years after the first was delivered in April 2009. Both aircraft are configured for reconnaissance and precision strike although ATK’s Brad Hayes revealed at Paris Air Show in June 2013 that the first example has not yet fired in anger.
ATK has worked on 86 aircraft in recent years including half of the USAF’s Project Liberty MC-12Ws, as well as integrating ISR kits on eight Scathe View’ C-130Hs of the 192nd Airlift Squadron/Nevada Air National Guard based at Reno IAP; Cessna 208s for Iraq Air Force (3) and Lebanese Air Force (2); five EO/ISR conversions of Colombian Air Force SR560 Citation 5s transferred from USAF; three Roll-On-Roll-Off medevac systems for Colombian Air Force UH-60L Angels; a single ISR Beech C90GTx King Air for Colombian Air Force as well as two Cessna 208 Caravans. Other work includes PC-12s, Dash 8s of the US Customs and Border Patrol and five RoKAF UH-60Ms Alan Warnes