PZL Mielec, Sierra Nevada showcase new attack aircraft for US Special Forces

Mielec Lockheed MC145 Overwatch
PZL Mielec-Sierra Nevada MC-145B Special Operations Multi-Role Aircraft (SOMA).

Aerospace company PZL Mielec, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin in Poland, and private contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation, partner for the program, showcased a prototype of their new MC-145B Special Operations Multi-Role Aircraft (SOMA) on Tuesday at Warsaw-Babice Airport, Poland.

According to PZL Mielec, the MC-145B SOMA was developed specifically to meet the needs of the U.S. Special Forces and its allies. It is a significantly enhanced and modified version of the M28 short take-off and landing twin-engine turboprop, which is currently operating in some of the harshest environments across the globe including the deserts of Jordan, the extreme cold of Estonia, and the subtropical forests of Kenya.

The aircraft’s high wing, powerful engines and rugged, fixed tricycle gear are ideal for safe and reliable operations in the austere environments anticipated for the Armed Overwatch mission.

The MC-145B weapon system employs extensive airframe modifications including wing weapons pylons, a retractable sensor lift, additional fuel tanks and internal weapons launchers to accommodate state of the art sensor and weapons system technologies.

Mielec Lockheed MC145 Overwatch

The aircraft features both a cabin and a C-130-style air-operable rear cargo ramp. It can be quickly reconfigured to cover air drop, paratroop and casualty evacuation roles while supporting self-deployment and resupply of forward operating locations without a reliance on strategic airlift assets.

The MC-145B SOMA is offered to the U.S. Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) in the Armed Overwatch project, formally launched last year. In May 2021, five companies, including Sierra Nevada Corporation, received contracts to build prototypes.

The MC-145B prototype was made in Poland and completed in the United States, where additional equipment was installed. Skytruck's conversion to MC-145 required wing reinforcement and the development of weapon and equipment mounting nodes. The project also uses the solutions implemented in the Polish Navy M28B1R Bryza aircraft, including the elongated nose of the fuselage with an optoelectronic head. Under the fuselage are housed additional equipment for the mission, eg. a second optoelectronic head, SAR radar or electronic reconnaissance devices. All the improvements introduced in the SOMA can also be implemented in already built M28 aircraft.

Mielec Lockheed MC145 Overwatch

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: Lockheed Martin

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