After more than 13 years in service, US Air Force Special Operations Command has officially named the U-28A intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft — Draco (Dragon).
Col Robert Masaitis, 492nd Special Operations Training Group commander, U-28 pilot and former commander of the 34th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida, commented: ‘From my time in the community (2010-2012), we were split between a couple of schools of thought on the official naming of the U-28. Lt Gen Eric Fiel, the AFSOC commander at the time, had told us we ought to name the aircraft. Between the two, then later three squadron commanders, we could agree that Draco was probably the obvious choice. I’m glad to see we’re bringing this initiative to fruition after all this time, as the U-28 has become so much more than the single-engine, non-descript utility aircraft we brought into the service over a decade ago.’
The mission of the Draco is to provide manned fixed-wing tactical airborne ISR support to humanitarian operations, search and rescue, conventional and special operations missions.
Lt Col Chad Anthony, 319th Special Operations Squadron commander said: ‘Over the battlefields of the global war on terror, Draco has come to mean unparalleled special operations intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, especially to the men and women on the ground in the line of fire. Aircrew and special operators who have flown and worked with the Pilatus U-28A have known it as Draco since its first combat deployment in June 2006.’