New York-based Moog Inc.[MOG-A, MOG-B] said on Oct. 18 that L3Harris Technologies [LHX] has chosen Moog’s space and defense segment to provide the Moog weapon Stores Management System (SMS) for U.S. Special Operations Command’s Armed Overwatch program.
On July 31, SOCOM awarded L3Harris a contract worth up to $3 billion for Armed Overwatch (Defense Daily, Aug. 1).
Under the contract, L3Harris is to build 75 of the company’s AT-802U Sky Warden aircraft through July 2029. SOCOM wants four squadrons of Armed Overwatch planes and 15 trainers.
“Armed Overwatch will provide Special Operations Forces deployable, affordable, and sustainable crewed aircraft systems fulfilling close air support, precision strike, and armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, requirements in austere and permissive environments for use in irregular warfare operations in support of the National Defense Strategy,” SOCOM has said.
Moog said on Oct. 18 that its “combat proven, modular, lightweight, and affordable SMS solution will be integrated on each [AT-802U] aircraft to provide superior fire-control and mission set capabilities.”
“The flexible design of the SMS enables rapid integration and future upgrades to the sensors, avionics, and weapons ensuring value for future mission requirements in response to rapidly evolving threats,” the company said.
Moog said that SMS includes an enhanced stores management computer, a stores interface unit, a remote power unit, and a dual rail launcher for AGM-114 Hellfire missiles by Lockheed Martin [LMT].
Moog said that its integrated defense systems business in Orlando, Fla., is to build SMS, and that “production of new, fully modified Armed Overwatch mission-configured aircraft will begin in 2023 at L3Harris’ Tulsa, Okla. modification center.”
In the Armed Overwatch competition, the L3Harris and Air Tractor, Inc. team’s AT-802U Sky Warden beat out designs by four other teams, including a Leidos [LDOS] team’s Bronco II offering, MAG Aerospace’s MC-208 Guardian, Sierra Nevada Corp.’s and PZL Mielec‘s [LMT] MC-145B Wily Coyote and Textron’s [TXT] AT-6E Wolverine.
Under Armed Overwatch, SOCOM has wanted to find a near-production ready small attack aircraft capable of providing commanders with armed reconnaissance, strike coordination and reconnaissance, and airborne forward air control “in austere and permissive environments for the Countering-Violent Extremist Organizations” mission.
L3Harris CEO Chris Kubasik said this year that Armed Overwatch represented “another opportunity [for L3Harris] to be a prime integrator,” that Armed Overwatch is “clearly a couple billion dollar opportunity here domestically and even more internationally,” and that “there’s a lot of need for this type of capability in countries [in Africa and the Middle East] that are fighting terrorism.”
After the U.S. Air Force ended its low-cost attack aircraft program in 2019, SOCOM adapted the Air Force effort for Armed Overwatch.