In March, the UAE is due to take delivery of the 24th and last Iomax Archangel aircraft from its current order. The final machine is already flying at Iomax’s facility in the USA, while the aircraft creating a buzz of excitement in the static display here at IDEX (Stand CP-205) is the penultimate aircraft.
Iomax delivered the first of the Archangels to the UAE in June 2015, around six months after receiving an order.
Based on the Thrush S2R-660 airframe, the Archangel builds on the experience from the earlier Iomax Border Patrol Aircraft that used the Air Tractor AT-802 ag-plane airframe. An initial 10 aircraft were produced for the UAE in Block 1 configuration with ISR capability, followed by 14 Block 2 aircraft with heavier payloads and additional stores options. Now that the definitive Block 3 Archangel aircraft has been delivered, some of the earlier aircraft are being transferred to other operators, with six going to Jordan and 12 to Egypt.
In creating the Archangel, Iomax has made numerous modifications compared with the Block 1/2, such as moving the two-person cockpit forward and enlarging the tail surfaces to cater for operations in the thinner air encountered at higher altitudes.
Other changes include redesigned wingtips and wingroots, and wider spacing of the underwing stores pylons to cater for dual-launcher rails.
The PT6A-67F turboprop is fitted with a new propeller from MT-Propeller, which features five scimitar-shaped blades for very quiet operations.
From an operator’s perspective, the Archangel offers a full persistent ISR capability in a platform that also has the ability to prosecute targets with precision. Traditionally these capabilities would require two dedicated types, one for ISR and one for attack, but the Archangel can perform both roles effectively. At an operating cost of around $1,000 per hour, the aircraft is extremely cost-effective.
Its ag-plane origins mean the Archangel can operate fully loaded from short, rough strips – its design keeping sensors and key systems out of the way of potential foreign object damage. The aircraft can quickly be disassembled for transport by aircraft such as the Boeing C-17.
Iomax has installed a ‘plug-and-play’ integrated mission system that allows it to carry virtually any store, weapon or system that uses a 14in NATO-standard lug spacing.