Being displayed in public for the first time is one of the Royal Jordanian Air Force’s PZL Mielec/Sikorsky M28 Skytruck utility transports.
The service has two of these Polish-built aircraft, which serve with No. 3 Squadron at Amman-Marka alongside the RJAF’s C-130 Hercules fleet. The M28s are smaller, more flexible and cheaper to operate than the C-130s, and have proved a valuable asset for smaller taskings, downloading some of the transport burden from the C-130 fleet as a result.
In RJAF service, the M28 is used for missions including search and rescue, air-dropping of loads and troops, and transport. The aircraft’s short-and rough-field performance gives it a ‘go-anywhere’ capability, while its rear clamshell hold doors and internal cargo-handling equipment allow it to load and unload personnel and cargo rapidly. It is particularly applicable for supporting troops operating in harsh and remote terrain, such as might be encountered in Jordan’s border regions. It is used to support special forces, and in particular Jordan’s Quick Reaction Force.
To tailor the aircraft for such missions, a modification package has been applied, with the aircraft on static display the first to be completed. Modification of the second aircraft is due for completion later this year.
Following the modification work, the aircraft are in a similar configuration to the C-145 version that has been widely operated by US Special Operations Command in Afghanistan.
To prepare the aircraft for its utility role, a ruggedised utility flooring system is installed to handle the heavy weights and rough treatment that are encountered during tactical operations. The floor can be configured to mount standard passenger seats, while the side of the cabin can mount paratroop-style seats. To upload and move cargo quickly, a roof-mounted 700kg (1,545 lb) winch/ crane is fitted, running on rails and moved fore and aft with a hand crank. Three additional cargo holds are housed in an underbelly pannier.
Two Harris SY-117 radios and an Iridium satellite phone are fitted, the latter providing communications in remote areas. Raytheon’s ARC-231 Skyfire communications system is installed, along with APX-119 identification friend or foe. A power unit provides charging points for various equipment, including soldier-worn systems.