Spy Planes: Mooresville Company Provides Latest Border Patrol Aircraft Technology
Posted at 12:10 a.m. on Sunday, October 23, 2022
MOORESVILLE – Various members of the Jordanian Air Force were in Mooresville on Friday to commemorate the upgrade of the first of six AT-802 Border Patrol aircraft at IOMAX USA Headquarters at Lake Norman Airport. Brigadier General Mohammad Fathi Hiyasat, Commander of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, led a contingent that included pilots, maintenance personnel and other officials from his country for the commissioning ceremony. Approximately 30 IOMAX employees joined various dignitaries and guests for the ceremony which included a cake cutting, lunch and demonstration flight.
IOMAX USA is a global provider of design, manufacture and integration of aerospace, surveillance and weapons systems. The company provides specially designed armed aircraft and related systems to meet security challenges, primarily to combat terrorism and assist in drug law enforcement.
KC Howard, President and CEO of IOMAX USA, said, “Today is a holiday. To carry out this project, you need confidence, dynamism, a level of experience and professionalism, security and finally training and knowledge transfer.
Hiyasat, himself an F-16 fighter pilot, added, “I thank IOMAX and the Jordanian Air Force for working as a team. IOMAX has always been a trusted partner. Our next celebration will be in Jordan and you are all invited.
Howard’s father started the company in Denver in 2001 from his condo in an apartment complex. In Mooresville, Howard rebuilt and expanded the business. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are other allies using IOMAX aircraft and technology.
Jamie Bishop, Vice President of Engineering for IOMAX and resident of Mt. Ulla, enjoyed the continued partnership with Jordan and is looking for more opportunities with them in the future. He said: “Over the past year and a half we have worked closely and well together. They are down to earth, hardworking and intelligent.
Bishop thanks Lt. Col. Tariq Hammouri, the Jordanian liaison officer for the IOMAX project, for the latest activities. Bishop said: “We already have exemplary communication with Jordan, but it certainly helps to have someone there to expedite the process.”
Several rotations of Jordanian pilots and technicians will train at the Lake Norman facility.
Over the past 12 years, IOMAX has delivered 48 Border Patrol and Archangel aircraft to the air forces of several US allies. The company also provided associated equipment, training and post-delivery support. IOMAX aircraft have flown more than 4,500 combat sorties, guiding more than 3,000 Paveway II bombs, 200 70mm rockets and 100 Hellfire missiles to terrorist targets across the Middle East and North Africa, while maintaining an operational readiness rate above 90%. At around $12 million each, Bishop said the Jordanian planes are the most advanced to date and are equipped with the latest technology.
Air Tractor aircraft are the aircraft used by IOMAX due to their long range capability, payload capacity, and large wings to mount weapon systems. Air Tractor planes are agile but can reach an altitude of 20,000 feet. They can be transported to an area of need by C-17 transport planes and other large cargo planes. They can stay in the air longer thanks to their large fuel capacity and carry more weight than other aircraft in their class. Other Air Tractor aircraft models have long been a staple for agricultural use, including crop dusting and spraying, as well as recreational use like towing gliders for takeoff.
The aircraft as equipped by IOMAX is a two-seater with the pilot in the front wearing a special helmet fitted with an eyepiece for a head-mounted display of the aircraft’s speed, heading and weapons. An EO/IR infrared sensor camera is mounted under the aircraft fuselage and uses Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) technology for precision strike capability. The rear seat, designated weapons systems officer, operates the camera, worth about $1 million each, and a laser to lock weapons on target until the pilot fires them. The plane can also be flown from the back seat.
IOMAX has 32 employees, all in Mooresville, with the exception of an Egyptian and an Emirati who represent the company’s interests in these countries.
Seamus Flately, Vice President of Business Development, said, “We are pursuing several opportunities in Africa and the Middle East as well as in the Asia-Pacific region. Some of these opportunities involve future work with existing customers and others are new business that involves our aircraft and opportunities to offer technical services on other aircraft.
He continued, “We believe our business model is unique in the industry, especially when it comes to aircraft upgrades. In these cases, we develop the technical expertise alongside our client during the upgrade of the first two aircraft. On all subsequent aircraft, we travel to the customer’s facility and advise and assist as necessary while the customer completes the upgrade on their remaining aircraft. This end result reduces costs as the customer gains new technical skills and a better understanding of the aircraft. A strong partnership develops between IOMAX and the customer, which we believe is the most important aspect of our business model and a key differentiator for us as a small business.