On Wednesday, March 25th, Stavatti Aerospace announced development of new Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) variants of the Machete turbofan and turboprop. The new aircraft are optimized for manned or unmanned high-altitude, extended endurance intelligence gathering. The ISR Machete will provide continuous day or night, high altitude stand-off surveillance. Inspired by an anticipated need for a low-cost, export-approved ISR platform capable of carrying a 3,000 lb. sensor package above 60,000 ft., development began in late April 2009 and culminated with the SM- 27IP (ISR turboprop) and SM-27IT (ISR turbofan).
Based on the standard Machete airframe, they feature longer, 90-ft. wingspans, 479-sq. ft. wing areas, and an aspect ratio of 16.9. Ventral vertical stabilizer fins provide yaw stability. Long-span wings and enhanced FBW software provide pitch control. The ISR Machetes can operate from 3,000-ft. runways. They are equipped with retractable outrigger landing gear, increased internal fuel capacity (up to 8,000 lbs.), a dedicated ISR sensor suite, and a ventral fuselage sensor pod equipped with integrated SAR/GMTI, FLIR, EO Camera and Laser designator. To reduce empty weight, the aircraft are not equipped with internal cannon or discrete armor, however, they may be fitted with up to 12 external stores stations to carry up to 3,000 lbs.
The ISR turboprop Machete is based on the SM-27S and is powered by a PW127G. With a 3,360 lb sensor payload, maximum takeoff weight is approximately 22,000 lbs. With a projected service ceiling in excess of 50,000 ft, the aircraft will have a maximum level speed of nearly 340 KTAS, a range of 5,000 nm on internal fuel and a maximum endurance of over 24 hours. The aircraft will be produced in a single-seat configuration for manned flights in excess of 14 hours, as well as unmanned/ autonomous configurations. Unmanned versions will have up to 500 lbs. of additional sensor payload and permit missions lasting longer than 24 hours. The ISR turbofan Machete is derived from the SM-27J and is powered by a non-afterburning F414 featuring an enhanced performance long chord blisk fan. With a 3,000 lb sensor payload, aircraft maximum takeoff weight is predicted at 23,365 lbs.
Offering performance similar to the U-2S, the SM-27IT will have a service ceiling in excess of 70,000 ft, a maximum level speed greater than 550 KTAS and a range of 4,700 nm. The manned SM-27IT will have an endurance greater than 13 hours and provisions to support a single pilot equipped with a full pressure suit for sustained flight operations above 50,000 ft. The unmanned/autonomous SM-27IT will offer up to 750 lbs of additional sensor payload and enable a mission endurance of more than 14 hours. Stavatti anticipates prototype construction coinciding with SM-27S and SM-27J development.
The Machete series, including the SM-27S/T Turboprop, SM-27J/L Turbofan and SM-47S/T Super Machete, is a family of modular COunter-INsurgency, Close Air Support, Forward Air Control (FAC), Advanced Trainer (AT), Lightweight Fighter, Lead-In Fighter (LIF), Air Defense Fighter (ADF), Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) and Advanced Pilot Training aircraft. Developed as a privately sponsored, corporate initiative to satisfy anticipated COIN/CAS and LWF/APT needs, the Machete will provide efficient, highly survivable warfighter air support.