In the pantheon of stranger aircraft, the OV-10 Bronco is one of the highlights. The twin-engine turboprop developed by North American in the 1960s emerged as a reconnaissance and observation aircraft, but with attack capability.
To perform various missions, the aircraft was configured with a double boom that were connected by the central horizontal stabilizer. Its cockpit had seats in sequence and a canopy wider than the fuselage and which allowed the crew to observe the ground from its sides.
If the aesthetic result was doubtful, its capacity was not and soon the Bronco came to be used by the US Air Force, Army and Navy. After 20 years, the single plane ended its production with 360 units completed in 1986. Now, almost 35 years later, a Canadian company plans to offer on the military market a Bronco-inspired aircraft, the Icarus Aerospace.
Almost a fighter
Officially unveiled this week, the new aircraft was called with the acronym TAV (Tactical Air Vehicle) and considered by Icarus a “clean-sheet aircraft”, but a quick observation is enough to see clear similarities with the Bronco.
The same double-boom and fuselage configuration that is attached to the wings. The TAV, however, has a two-seat tandem cockpit with a narrower canopy. The twin-engine turboprop also features an overhead refueling boom and 1,700-shp engines with five-blade propellers.
On its website, Icarus says that TAV will be able to fulfill 90% of a fighter’s missions for a cost of just 15% compared to it. Like the Bronco, the Canadian plane promises to be reliable and versatile, but also capable of receiving cutting-edge technology such as 360 degree AESA radar, a plug-and-play solution for equipment, systems and armaments and even the possibility of an unmanned variant.
Icarus also released an attack version called Wasp, which can carry up to 8,000 pounds on 11 external hard points. The variety of armaments includes torpedoes, anti-ship rockets, ammunition guided by GPS or laser, sonoboards and air-to-air missiles.
The turboprop’s performance includes a maximum operating speed of 360 knots (calibrated), a service ceiling of 36,000 feet, and a G load of +8 and -4. Its operation on runways is of the type STOL (Short Take off and Landing) and the autonomy without refueling for 6.5 hours.
Icarus’ proposal may be successful if it can prove its capacity. Attack, observation and reconnaissance missions are currently performed by adapted aircraft such as the advanced training aircraft Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine and the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano, not to mention reconfigured agricultural aircraft. An aircraft dedicated to this market could gain an advantage in future competitions. If it depends on inspiration in the old and reliable Bronco, the TAV can do well.