Canadian company Icarus Aerospace has unveiled its Tactical Air Vehicle (TAV), a twin turboprop multi-role design it describes as a first of its kind clean slate tactical aircraft designed to give 90% of the mission capability of a modern fighter at 15% of the cost of a modern combat jet.
In its baseline configuration, TAVwill deploy with two crew in a tandem cockpit that features sensor fusion and network centric capabilities. With a planned payload of 8 000 pounds (3 600 kg), TAV will have an unrefuelled endurance of 6.5 hours at its jet-like high-speed cruise, Icarus said.
“Designed from the outset to be optionally-piloted, TAVcan utilize its innovative software, avionics and systems to meet a wide variety of mission requirements, including battlefield management, communication relay, aerial refuelling, re-arm and re-supply and medivac – with crew, remotely piloted or as a fully autonomous system.”
TAV is the first in a family of specialized aircraft, including WASP, a mission-oriented version, focused on Close-Air Support (CAS), Maritime & Coastal Patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare, and surveillance, and BRANTA, a long endurance, high-altitude optionally-piloted/unmanned combat air vehicle (OPV/UCAV), Icarus said. The BRANTA will have an increased span high altitude wing and increased endurance (30 hours unrefuelled).
The WASP can be armed and is designed for close air support, counter-insurgency, forward air control, armed aerial scout, special ops coverage, combat search and rescue, border patrol, armed coastal and maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare and anti-piracy missions. it is also suited to intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, electronic warfare, signal intelligence, communications relay and battlefield management tasks.
The WASP will have a maximum takeoff weight of 21 000 lb (9 500 kg), wingspan of 51 feet (15.5 metres) and length of 52 feet (15.85 metres). It will be powered by two 1 700 shp turboprops, giving a top speed of 666 km/h.
In addition to an optionally installed 360-degree AESA radar and up to two FLIR turrets (chin and belly mounted, retractable), the WASP will be able to carry 3 600 kg of weapons on 11 external hardpoints (guided bombs and rockets, torpedoes, sonobuoys, air-to-air missiles) and a forward firing fixed cannon or an optional belly-mounted cannon up to 30 mm. Leonardo Company offers the Osprey radar for the aircraft.
“We’ve developed TAV to be in alignment with latest international military armed overwatch and persistent presence requirements and challenges. The aircraft platform defines a niche of its own and excels in addressing all existing and future daily threats facing our troops, security forces and our world,” said Marko Ivankovic, Senior Product Development Manager and Flight Test Engineer for Icarus Aerospace.
“We are now moving TAV into its next stage of development, to ensure that Icarus Aerospace has the financial resources to bring our exciting new program to fruition,” said Ivankovic.
Icarus said it is ready to bring the TAV and WASP to a “lucrative market” which is seeing military aircraft no longer able to keep up with existing and future threats. “Obsolescence programmes are in effect. Replacement or new acquisition proposals demand an aircraft which offers a high degree of adaption to a variety of tactical roles and mission profiles, at the lowest possible cost. Increasingly, agencies are pulling away from the soon-to-be obsolete products. They must reluctantly convert to sub-optimal and modified trainers, or small commercial aircraft to conduct missions they were never designed to support,” the company said. It is estimating that 60% of the existing world fleet of comparable military and civil platforms will require replacement within the next 20 years, with the WASP/TAV capturing a significant portion of the replacement market.
Icarus Aerospace was incorporated in early 2016. It describes its mission as to provide the world a unique family of clean-sheet, mission-specialized, aeronautical products.
The TAV, resembling the OV-10 Bronco, is the latest clean-sheet ISR/light attack aircraft design. It will compete with the likes of Textron’s Scorpion and Paramount’s Ahrlac, which is being offered to the United States for its Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Armed Overwatch programme as the Bronco II.
The growing field is dominated by the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine and Embraer A-29 Super Tucano, but there are other players such as the Calidus B-250, L-3 Air Tractor AT-802, IOMAX Archangel, TAI Hurkus-C, KAI KA-1 etc.