OA-1K Sky Warden
AT-802U prototype at Paris Air Show
Role Light attack/ISR aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Air Tractor / L3Harris
Primary user United States Air Force
Developed from Air Tractor AT-802

The Air Tractor-L3Harris OA-1K Sky Warden (company designation AT-802U) is an American fixed-wing, single-engine Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance aircraft built by Air Tractor and L3Harris for the Armed Overwatch program of the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM). It was developed from the Air Tractor AT-802, an American aircraft often used for agricultural purposes.

The AT-802U Sky Warden won the Armed Overwatch trial, and on 1 August 2022, SOCOM announced a US$3 billion contract to purchase 75 aircraft by 2029.[1]

Design and development

The AT-802U Sky Warden was developed from the Air Tractor AT-802, for the Special Operations Command's Armed Overwatch trial. A version of the AT-802 has been used for years eradicating coca leaf crops (used in the production of illicit drugs) and as a result was already outfitted with lightweight composite ballistic armored engine compartment and cockpit, called a "bathtub." The windshield features flat ballistic glass panels. The cockpit is built of a steel tube frame design to act as a roll cage, and can support the entire weight of the aircraft.[2]

The aircraft is not designed to fit ejection seats. The fuel lines and fuel tank are self-sealing and features emergency fuel jettison.[2] Restraints include a 5-point harness equipped with airbags. Essential flight controls are present in both the front and rear seats. The landing gear configuration differs from most modern aircraft in that it is a tail-wheel configuration, which is optimal for austere and unimproved airstrip landings.

The AT-802U is designed for expedient deployment and can be disassembled within a day to fit inside a single C-17 cargo aircraft.[3] It can then be reassembled to mission-ready status within a single day.

On 1 August 2022, Air Tractor and L3Harris were awarded a US$3 billion contract for 75 aircraft. The contract included an upfront payment of US$170 million, with the rest being paid out as the fleet is delivered. The aircraft is built in two stages; the airframe is built by Air Tractor in Olney, Texas, and the armor and weapons systems are added by L3Harris in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[4] It is to replace the U-28A Draco, often used for anti-insurgency operations.[5]

The AT-802U was officially designated the OA-1K in late 2022.[6]

On December 15, 2023, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report urging the Pentagon to slow down the program until SOCOM makes a better justification for so many planes. GAO suggested SOCOM needs a “substantially smaller” fleet of Sky Wardens, but did not recommend a number itself.[7]


 United States

Specifications (AT-802U)

Data from Manufacturer[8]

General characteristics




  1. ^ D'urso, Stefano (4 August 2022). "AT-802U Sky Warden Selected By US SOCOM For Armed Overwatch". The Aviationist. Archived from the original on 28 March 2023. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Aircraft Survivability". Air Tractor® AT-802U. Archived from the original on 28 November 2023. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  3. ^ "Sky Warden™ ISR Strike Aircraft | L3Harris® Fast. Forward". l3harris.com. Archived from the original on 28 November 2023. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  4. ^ Losey, Stephen (1 August 2022). "US Special Operations Command chooses L3Harris' Sky Warden for Armed Overwatch effort". Defense News. Archived from the original on 4 August 2022. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  5. ^ "Air Tractor AT-802U Surveillance and Light Attack Aircraft". Airforce Technology. 6 January 2021. Archived from the original on 28 March 2023. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  6. ^ a b Cohen, Rachel S. (21 November 2022). "Here's the Air Force's plan to train armed overwatch pilots". Air Force Times. Archived from the original on 7 January 2024. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  7. ^ Tirpak, John A. (15 December 2023). "Slow Down Armed Overwatch Until SOCOM Justifies Fleet, GAO Says". Air & Space Forces Magazine. Archived from the original on 16 December 2023. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  8. ^ "AT-802U Specifications". 802U.com. 11 November 2022.