The Iomax Archangel, a light attack and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft now being delivered to the UAE Armed Forces for special forces support, is making its debut at the Dubai Airshow this week.
Based on the airframe of the Thrush S2R-660 agricultural aircraft, the Archangel was originally known as the Block III border patrol aircraft (BPA).
Some 24 Block I and Block II BPAs, based on the airframe of the similar Air Tractor AT-802, were delivered to the UAE Special Operations Command’s Group 18 from November 2010.
Iomax soon dropped the Block III designation in favour of using the name ArchAngel to reflect the extensive changes.
The Thrush and S2R-660, and the Air Tractor AT-802, were derivatives of the same basic design – which originated as the Snow S-2 agricultural aircraft. This was subsequently built in more or less revised forms as the Aero Commander Ag Commander, the Rockwell Thrush Commander, as a variety of Air Tractor models, as the Ayres Turbo Thrush, and as the Thrush Aircraft Model 400, 510, 550 and 660.
Iomax made the change to the Thrush S2R-660 airframe in order to be able to make modifications on the production line, rather than modifying the aircraft after manufacture.
This has allowed the fuselage to be redesigned with the tandem twin-cockpit stretched and moved forward 43 inches to increase the space available for the rear crew-member, while also improving the view forward and down for the pilot. The rear cockpit has also been elevated to improve visibility for the back-seater, and new self-sealing fuel tanks are fitted.
The ‘cleaned-up’, lower-drag fuselage has a sleeker nose profile and a blended rear cockpit, as well as remodelled wing roots and wingtips. The engine exhausts are angled rearwards providing about 200lb of additional thrust, and the five-bladed Hartzell propeller has been replaced by an MT-Propeller MTV-27 prop, with composite scimitar-style blades.
The under-wing pylons are now more widely spaced, allowing the use of twin launch rails and dual stores on each hardpoint. The tailfin and rudder has also been redesigned, with greater height and area, giving better directional stability – especially when firing weapons.