The U-28A is a manned, tactical ISR and targeting platform based on the Pilatus PC-12.
The USSOCOM-owned aircraft are operated by AFSOC as a nonstandard fleet. It is employed worldwide in support of special operations ground forces, humanitarian efforts, and search and rescue.
AFSOC first employed the aircraft during Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom.
Mission equipment includes advanced radio-comms suite, IR suppression, missile, hostile fire, and laser warning, EO sensors, remote SIGINT, and advanced navigation systems. The primary Multispectral Targeting System includes FMV, EO-IR, IR real-time video, and co-aligned laser designator. U-28 EQ+ mods added high-definition, FMV to six EQ/PC-12 configured aircraft for extended standoff “find, fix, finish” capabilities in support of counter-ISIS ops.
FY21 funds Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning to prevent flight-into-terrain accidents, improved BLOS SATCOM connectivity, continues navigation mods to enable ops in GPS-degraded environments, as well as FAA airspace compliance upgrades.
USSOCOM sought to replace the fleet with 75 “armed overwatch” aircraft capable of tactical ISR and light CAS but was denied congressional funds through FY23 pending study and justification.
Two aircraft were lost to fatal mishaps in Djibouti in 2012 and at Cannon in 2017, and Congress authorized FY21 funds for a loss replacement.
Contractor: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.
First Flight: May 31, 1991 (PC-12).
IOC: June 2006.
Inventory: 30 (U-28A); five (PC-12) (both USSOCOM-owned).
Operator: AFSOC, AFRC.
Aircraft Location: Cannon AFB, N.M.; Hurlburt Field, Fla.
Active Variants: •U-28A. Special operations variant of the civilian Pilatus PC-12. •PC-12. Converted civilian Pilatus PC-12 equipped for SOF support/training.
Dimensions: Span 53.3 ft, length 47.3 ft, height 14 ft.
Weight: Max T-O 10,935 lb.
Power Plant: Single Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67B, 1,200 shp.
Performance: Speed 253 mph, range 1,725 miles.
Ceiling: 30,000 ft.
Accommodation: Two pilots, CSO, tactical systems officer; up to nine passengers or 3,000 lb cargo (configuration dependent).