A start-up company in Canton, Ohio, is developing a single engine, turbo prop aircraft that is being touted as a low cost, high endurance alternative to conventional jet aircraft.
U.S. Aircraft Corp. officials say the A-67 Dragon will be used for combat strikes, intelligence gathering, counterinsurgency, border patrol and other missions. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67 power plant that is capable of producing 1,200 horsepower, the side-by-side two seater aircraft can carry 3,000 pounds of sensors and weapons on four external hard-points, a centerline mounting rack or wingtip missile rails, says the company.
Economy, 10-hour flight endurance and relatively simple maintenance requirements are other selling points cited by U.S. Aircraft.
“We call it the Ford tractor principle. You want a machine that’s simple, easy to operate and runs all the time,” says Raymond Williams, founder of the company.
Several other aircraft companies are currently working on comparable mission aircraft that are aimed at U.S. customers and overseas markets.
The new system, says Thomas J. Cassidy Jr., a senior company executive, will offer military operators “improved situational awareness, reduced pilot workload and the edge needed to ensure continued success in supporting the troops.”
He suggests the combination of cutting edge hardware and software technology also will make it easier for ground operators to identify dangerous situations “and generally improve the decision-making process.”
Sabre Defence of Nashville, Tenn., is producing more accurate and easier to clean 50-caliber machine gun barrels that significantly exceed U.S. Army specifications. The secret, officials relate, is keyed to improved gun bore geometry and tube hone.
The British-based company took over the Nashville plant in 2002. A spokesman noted that 50-caliber gun barrel demand has grown from 100 to 1,200 units a month. Workers there fabricate both ground based and lighter aircraft barrels.