Afghan SpecOps gets PC-12NG Transport Planes
In October 2012, Sierra Nevada Corp. in Sparks, NV received a $218 million firm-fixed-price contract for 18 uniquely modified Pilatus PC-12/47E aircraft, which will be used by Afghan National Army Special Operations Forces. Sierra Nevada will handle the modifications to Pilatus’ aircraft, and acts as the American lead. Their work will be performed in Sparks, NV until July 31/15. The 645th AESG/WIJK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract (FA8620-13-C-4007).
PC-12s are popular light aircraft, with a bit more heft than a Cessna Caravan, and the ability to take off and land using short dirt or grass runways. Over 1,000 have been around the world. Most are civilian planes, but Pilatus is marketing a PC-12NG Spectre variant [PDF] as a special operations platform. The PC-12′s growing number of para-public and military users do include US Special Operations Command, where the “U-28A” serves as a reconnaissance platform and communications relay that can also be converted for light transport and air ambulance roles.
Assuming there’s still a government to deliver them to by 2015, Afghanistan’s PC-12s will serve alongside Cessna 208B Caravans (mostly trainers, but can be used operationally), and C-27A tactical transports. They may also find themselves working with AAF Mi-17 helicopters, given the nature of their missions.