Draco is the name and pawning is the game.
After years of bureaucratic considerations, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has decided to officially baptize its U-28A aircraft as Draco. In Latin, the word “draco” means “dragon” and it’s also a constellation in the far northern sky.
“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,” explained Col. Robert Masaitis, the 492nd Special Operations Training Group commander and U-28A pilot, in an interview with DVIDS. “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.”
A light turboprop aircraft, the U-28A is a versatile platform that can perform a number of roles in support of special operations or conventional units. One of its primary functions is to conduct long-range intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations. The U-28A fleet has been doing excellent work in Africa the past few years. Another role of the U-28A is the covert insertion, extraction, or resupply of SOF elements in denied environments. Although a small aircraft, the U-28A has the ability to ferry up to 10 fully-kitted commandos or 3,000 pounds of gear. Its small size, furthermore, makes it ideal for operations in makeshift airstrips.