US military designation: RG-8A

TYPE: Multisensor surveillance lightplane.

PROGRAMME: First flight 1985; prototype fitted with Hughes AN/AAQ-16 and other manufacturers' thermal imaging systems.

CURRENT VERSIONS: SA 2-37A: Baseline version, as described.
SA 2-37B: Powered by 186 kW (250 hp) Textron Lycoming TIO-540 engines. First aircraft (N6150U, c/n 015) registered February 2001; all subsequent production is to this standard.

CUSTOMERS: Three for US Army, of which one lost in accident; remaining two transferred in 1987 to US Coast Guard at Opa Locka for anti-narcotics operations; one converted to SA 2-38A.
Fifth, sixth and seventh 2-37As built for Central Intelligence Agency late 1989/early 1990; others to Colombian, Jordanian and Mexican air forces, possibly to assist US drugs interdiction efforts as transfers not announced. Colombian purchase of one aircraft being followed by US government provision of five more.
CIA aircraft employed as airborne communications relay platforms for long-range reconnaissance UAVs; believed used over former Yugoslavia in 1994, supporting General Atomics Gnat 750 vehicles; also fitted with surface surveillance equipment to identify sites for NATO air strikes in same operational theatre. Participated in hostage rescue at Japanese embassy in Peru, 1997.

DESIGN FEATURES: Modification of Schweizer SGM 2-37 motor glider, but with slightly greater wing span, drooped leading-edge and leading-edge fences on outer wing panels to improve stall, much more powerful engine with large exhaust silencers on fuselage sides, three-blade quiet propeller, fuselage modified to accept bulged canopy and larger engine, streamlined fairings and hydraulic parking brake on mainwheels; more than treble standard fuel capacity, but optional extra tank also available; removable underfuselage skin and hatches give access to 1.84 m³ (65 cu ft) payload bay behind cockpit, in which pallets holding LLLTV, FLIR or camera payloads can be quickly removed and installed; other engines and larger payloads available for surveillance, basic and advanced training, operator training, glider and banner towing, and priority cargo delivery. Certified to FAR Pt 23 for day and night IFR; inaudible when overflying at 'quiet mode' speed at about 610 m (2,000 ft) using 38.8 kW (52 hp) from its 175 kW (235 hp) Textron Lycoming IO-540 engine.
Wing section Wortmann FX-61-163 at root and FX-60-126 (modified) at tip; outer wing panels and horizontal tail can be removed for transport.

FLYING CONTROLS: Manual. All-moving tailplane with anti-balance tab; externally mass-balanced ailerons; rudder.

LANDING GEAR: Tailwheel type; fixed. Cleveland disc brakes.

POWER PLANT: Initially one 175 kW (235 hp) Textron Lycoming IO-540-W3A5D flat-six engine, driving a McCauley three-blade constant-speed propeller. Reportedly re-engined in service with 186 kW (250 hp) turbocharged TIO-540. Standard fuel capacity of 196.8 litres (52.0 US gallons; 43.3 Imp gallons), increasable optionally to 253.6 litres (67.0 US gallons; 55.8 Imp gallons). Shadin fuel flow system.

ACCOMMODATION: Seats for two persons side by side under two-piece upward-opening canopy, hinged on centreline. Dual controls, seat belts and inertia reel harnesses standard. Compartment aft of seats enlarged to accommodate pallet containing up to 340 kg (750 lb) of sensors or other equipment.