The three aircraft variants are highly resemblant of the Vietnam-era OV-10 Bronco.
Icarus Aerospace, a relatively new Canadian company, recently unveiled a clean-sheet aircraft called TAV (Tactical Air Vehicle), which they advertise as an “highly customizable, twin-turboprop multi-role capable aircraft, with a rugged, versatile, and technologically advanced design”. The aircraft is highly resemblant of the OV-10 Bronco, with the only differences being a more streamlined profile and the addition of an air-to-air refueling probe.
Marko Ivankovic, Senior Product Development Manager and Flight Test Engineer for the company, said in the press release: “We’ve developed TAV™ to be in alignment with latest international military armed overwatch and persistent presence requirements and challenges. The aircraft platform defines a niche of its own and excels in addressing all existing and future daily threats facing our troops, security forces and our world”.
Like the Bronco, the aircraft is configured with a tandem cockpit for two crew members that features the “latest avionics configuration with sensor fusion and network centric capabilities”. Performance-wise, TAV can take an 8,000 lbs payload on 11 hardpoints up to 36,000 ft and 360 KTAS, with and endurance of six and half hours that can be extended by air-to-air refueling: in short, TAV is about twice the size of Bronco and almost twice as fast with Vmo up to 360kts, not to mention difference in payload. Moreover, according to Icarus, it fixes all deficiencies identified with Bronco during evaluations and employment in Iraq.
Congratulations @IcarusAerospace on unveiling the TAV which features the #Osprey radar fitted conformally. Discreet installation means no aerodynamic drag of a radome, and aircraft’s belly is free for operations to & from unprepared surfaces. https://t.co/813aVxEElu https://t.co/3TLYzU5mC6
— Leonardo in the UK 🇬🇧 (@Leonardo_UK) August 13, 2020
The aircraft also has a forward firing fixed cannon, which in the renderings is a three-barreled Gatling gun, and can be equipped with a belly mounted gun turret, much like the YOV-10D Night Observation Gunship System (NOGS) that were modified with the addition of the M197 gun turret from the AH-1 Cobra. As for the sensors, TAV can mount up to two EO/IR turrets (Electro-Optical/InfraRed) and an optional 360-degree Leonardo Osprey AESA radar, the same that is currently being tested aboard the U.S. Navy MQ-8C Fire Scout.
According to Icarus, TAV is the first of a family of aircraft, with a fully militarized version called Wasp which is advertised for a multitude of roles ranging from the traditional Close-Air Support (CAS), Counter-Insurgency (COIN), Forward Air Control (FAC), Border Patrol, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) to the less expected Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), COM/INTEL Relay & Battlefield Management, Maritime & Coastal Patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW).
In a Tweet, TAV is envisioned as “Ideal P-8 gap filler and P-3 Replacement”, but it is not clear yet how the company plans to condense the workload of the 9-person and 11-person crews, of the Poseidon and Orion respectively, to be managed by only a two-person crew. For this mission set, the aircraft is said to be equippable with up to two torpedoes, anti-ship missiles and sonobuoys.
Superb performance and sustainable, cost effective Maritime & Coastal Patrol including Anti-Piracy, Anti-Submarine and Anti-Ship Warfare. Ideal P-8 gap filler and P-3 Replacement.#maritimepatrol #coastalpatrol #asw #navy #usn #royalnavy #coastguard #antipiracy #canadiannavy pic.twitter.com/i6upyDtWco
— Icarus Aerospace (@IcarusAerospace) August 12, 2020
Both TAV and Wasp are said to be designed to be optionally piloted, with the unmanned flights being remotely piloted or fully autonomous. Following this lead, the third member of the TAV family is Branta, a long endurance, high-altitude optionally piloted/unmanned combat air vehicle (OPV/UCAV) named after the Canada Goose. This variant features an increased wingspan, with unrefueled endurance of more than 30 hours at 50’000 ft, further extendable by air-to-air refueling, both manual and automatic.
“We are now moving TAV into its next stage of development, to ensure that Icarus Aerospace has the financial resources to bring our exciting new program to fruition,” said Ivankovic.
This is not the first time a company decides to develop a new aircraft based on the Vietnam-era OV-10 Bronco. Back in 2014, there was South Africa’s first indigenous turboprop aircraft called AHRLAC (Advanced High-performance Reconnaissance and Surveillance Aircraft), further developed in 2018 as Bronco II by Bronco Combat System (BCS) USA, which is now being offered to the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) for its Armed Overwatch program.