IOMAX USA has commenced deliveries of the first of 24 Archangel aircraft to the UAE. One of the EMD aircraft was displayed at Paris Air Show last week and the delivery of the first production followed later that week in Mooresville, NC. The UAE originally took delivery of 24 Air Tractor AT-802 aircraft from 2011 to 2013 for its Special Operations Command based at Falaj Hazza Camp near Al Ain. Of the first ten 'Block 1' aircraft, six have since been donated to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, leaving the remaining four plus fourteen later 'Block 2' AT802's in service still. There were numerous improvements from Blocks 1 to 2, the most significant being an increase in weapons payload thanks to a pylon upgrade.
The UAE then wanted a further 24 aircraft, with further enhancements, which led to the development of the Archangel.
"In discussions with our then current aircraft provider, Air Tractor, we concluded that it would not be possible to influence the basic design of the 802 aircraft. As a result of this limitation, IOMAX entered into discussions with Thrush Aircraft as a possible provider of aircraft." said Ron Howard, CEO of IOMAX. "In November of 2012, IOMAX and Thrush entered into a verbal agreement to jointly produce what, at the time, would be the Block 3.
This verbal agreement was formalized in 2013, at which time IOMAX and Thrush entered into a formal, exclusive relationship to build the Archangel Aircraft."
These are effectively 'Block 3' aircraft, meaning the UAE now has a fleet of three different variants. There is speculation that there may be more donations of the earlier AT-802s to other countries in the MENA region.
photo credits: Nigel Prevett, Aviation Week and Andrew Edge.