Pilatus Aircraft Ltd
The U-28A provides a manned fixed wing, on-call/surge capability for tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of special operations forces.
The U-28A is a modified, single-engine Pilatus PC-12 that operates worldwide. The initial block of U-28 aircraft were procured and modified for use in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The U-28A fleet evolved from commercially available aircraft that were purchased and then modified with communications gear, aircraft survivability equipment, electro-optical sensors, and advanced navigation systems. The advanced radio-communications suite is capable of establishing DoD/NATO data-links, full-motion video, data, and voice communications.
Special Operations Command mission requirements generated a need for small numbers of mission specific aircraft which were procured rapidly to address specific mission needs. The Non-Standard Aircraft (NSAv) fleet is a general program term and encompasses several light and medium aircraft performing utility missions for SOCOM. Overall the NSAv mobility fleet untethers special operations forces from robust infrastructures, extended timelines and allows freedom of movement.
The U-28A is part of AFSOC's NSAv fleet, and is operated by the 319th and 34th Special Operations Squadrons, training is conducted by the 5th and 19th SOS; all squadrons are located at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Most recently a U-28A crashed during operations in Djibouti, killing four crew.