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Sat, Apr 01, 2023

Fisher Flying Products Inks Deal for F-22-Alike LSAs

Lightweight Kit Selected for Next-Gen COIN Platform in Surprise Ukraine Bid

Special 04.01.23 Parody Edition: Fisher Flying Products' nifty little bird has a new customer, after a seriously expedited Foreign Military Sales deal secured their SF-1 Archon as the newest offering to militaries abroad.

The SF-1 is a lookalike to many Gen-5 fighters, sporting the same angled, low-observable design and pointed fuselage as the F-35 and F-22. While the resemblance is there, the usual Archon lacks nearly everything its wall-poster heroes do, from cutting edge avionics and weapon systems to jet engines and pressurization. The FMS variant, however, addresses those shortcomings with the addition of a pusher-mounted Pratt & Whitney PT-6 in place of the Rotax 914 normally seen. A redesign of the frame with carbon fiber, titanium, and aramid weave allows a tremendous increase in payload, with 4 hardpoints for external ordnance. The end result is expected to be a competent, affordable COIN fighter, scout, and decoy.

"We knew we wanted something nice and relatively turnkey to send to Ukraine, and the only thing that could look the part of a modern, cutting-edge fighter was the Archon," said Nigel Smythe, procurement specialist with the Foreign Military Sales Program. "We tapped Lockheed Martin to provide some of their engineering capability for the little bird, and they were able to revamp it enough so that it can provide a pretty convincing imitation of an F-22 from afar."

"It turns out that the SF-1's LSA roots provide an astoundingly low radar return, if only from the size, and materials involved in the civilian kit," said Sarah Chander, head of the Archon program at Lockheed. "Sure, superficially it has some angles and edges, but the actual radar return is mild because of the compact form and doped aramid fabric used for its wings."

While the new fighter will be equipped for battle, the next phase of the SF-1 program aims to automate it with a little bit of General Atomics magic, creating a small, numerous fleet of decoys to spoof surface-to-air defenses throughout contested zones. While the exact recipient of the first batch of Archons remains a mystery, it's almost certain from water cooler talk that the first 20 aircraft will end up in Ukraine.

FMI: www.archon.aero

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