A turboprop Cessna with Hellfire missiles is appropriate technology for air superiority and close air support in Afghanistan. The Cessna 208 Caravan is an American single-engined turboprop, fixed-tricycle landing gear, short-haul regional airliner and utility aircraft that is built by Cessna. The airplane typically seats nine passengers with a single pilot. There is a modified version for combat. Civilian Cessna 208 cost $2 to 2.5 million. AC-208 Combat Caravan is a Caravan with wing hardpoints. An ISTAR version built by ATK armed with Hellfire missiles is used by the Iraqi Air Force. The AC-208 received its combat debut in January 2014 when the Iraqi Air Force began employing it against insurgents in Anbar province.
Orbital ATK's battle-proven AC-208 Armed Caravan and offers customers a highly-capable and cost-effective reconnaissance and ground attack capability with a critical offensive and operational over-watch capability in the Counter-Insurgency (COIN) fight. The Eliminator™ is able to find, fix, identify, track, target, and engage emerging and time-sensitive targets with its 2.75″ guided rockets and/or AGM-114 HELLFIRE missile payload, based on mission requirements.
The Afghans have been conducting about 40 strikes a week, almost double the roughly 25 strikes American aircraft perform.
It is far easier to train the Afghans to fly the AC-208 and they are easy to maintain.
Orbital ATK's proven mission system
High definition cockpit / cabin monitors
Integrated fire control system
High definition EO/IR sensors with integrated laser designator
Reconfigurable weapons configuration
Dual Rail HELLFIRE Missiles (AGM-114); two missiles per wing
2.75″ Rocket Pods (APKWS, GATR or other guided rockets); one pod per wing
Missile warning and countermeasures system for a full range of threats
Ballistic panels for cockpit and mission systems compartment protection
Datalinks provide Line-of-sight (LOS) and Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) audio and visual communications
Flight data recorder / cockpit voice recorder