Spy planes: Mooresville offers the latest in border patrol aircraft technology
Posted at 12:10am on Sunday, October 23rd, 2022
MORESVILLE — Members of the Jordanian Air Force were in Mooresville on Friday to celebrate the upgrade of the first of six AT-802 border patrol aircraft at IOMAX U.S. headquarters at Lake Norman Airport. Royal Jordanian Air Force Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Fati Hiasat led a contingent of pilots, maintenance personnel and other national officials to the committee ceremony. About 30 IOMAX employees, along with a number of dignitaries, invited guests to the ceremony, which included cake cutting, a luncheon and a flight demonstration.
IOMAX USA is a global supplier of aerospace, surveillance and weapons systems design, manufacture and integration. The company provides weaponized aircraft and related systems designed to meet security challenges, primarily to combat terrorism and assist drug law enforcement.
KC Howard, Chairman and CEO of IOMAX USA, said, “Today is a celebration. Completing this project requires trust, motivation, a level of experience and professionalism, safety, and finally training and transfer of knowledge.”
Hiyasat, himself an F-16 fighter pilot, added: “I thank IOMAX and the Jordanian Air Force for their teamwork. IOMAX has been a trusted partner. Our next celebration will be in Jordan and we invite you all people.”
Howard’s father started the company in 2001 from an apartment in a Denver apartment complex. In Mooresville, Howard rebuilt and grew the company. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are other allies using IOMAX aircraft and technology.
Jamie Bishop, IOMAX VP of Engineering and Mt. Ulla resident, enjoys the ongoing partnership with Jordan and looks for more opportunities in the future. “We’ve been working closely together for the past year and a half. They’re down to earth, hard working and smart,” he said.
Bishop credits lieutenant. Colonel Tariq Hammouri, Jordanian Liaison Officer for the IOMAX project, introduced the latest activities. “We’ve had exemplary communication with Jordan, but having someone on site to speed up the process certainly helps,” Bishop said.
Several rounds of pilots and technicians from Jordan will be trained at the Lake Norman facility.
Over the past 12 years, IOMAX has delivered 48 Border Patrol and Angel aircraft to the air forces of various US allies. The company also provides associated equipment, training and post-delivery support. IOMAX aircraft have flown more than 4,500 sorties, guiding more than 3,000 Paveway II bombs, 200 70mm rockets and 100 Hellfire missiles against terrorist targets in the Middle East and North Africa, while maintaining a readiness rate of over 90%. Priced at about $12 million each, the Jordanian plane is the most advanced aircraft to date, equipped with the latest technology, Bishop said.
Air Tractor aircraft are the aircraft used by IOMAX because of their long-range capability, payload capability, and large wings for mounting weapons systems. Air Tractor aircraft are flexible but can reach altitudes of 20,000 feet. They can be transported to areas where they are needed by C-17 transport aircraft and other large cargo aircraft. They have a large fuel capacity, can stay in the air longer, and carry more weight than other aircraft in their class. Other models of Air Tractor aircraft have long been staples for agricultural uses, including crop dusting and spraying, and recreational uses such as towing gliders for takeoff.
Equipped by IOMAX, the aircraft is a two-seater, with the pilot in the front wearing a special helmet with goggles for a head-mounted display of aircraft speed, heading and weapons. An EO/IR infrared sensor camera is mounted under the aircraft fuselage and uses intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technology to enable precision strike capabilities. Backseat personnel, designated weapons systems officers, operate cameras worth about $1 million each and a laser that locks weapons on targets until pilots fire. The plane can also take off from the back seat.
IOMAX has 32 employees, all of whom are based in Mooresville, except for the Egyptians and Emirates who represent the company’s interests in these countries.
Seamus Flately, Vice President of Business Development, said: “We are pursuing multiple opportunities in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Some of these opportunities involve future collaborations with existing customers, while others involve new pursuits on our aircraft and on other aircraft. Opportunities to provide technical services.”
He continued: “We believe our business model is unique in the industry, especially when it comes to aircraft upgrades. In these cases, we develop technical expertise with our customers during the upgrade process for the first two aircraft. In all On subsequent aircraft, we travel to the customer’s facility and provide the necessary advice and assistance as the customer completes the upgrade of the remaining aircraft. This end result reduces costs as the customer acquires new technical skills and a better understanding of the aircraft .IOMAX has built a strong partnership with its customers, which we believe is the most important aspect of our business model and a key differentiator for us as a small business.”