A-29 Light-Attack Plane Crashes During Air Force Experiment

An A-29 Super Tucano crashed June 22 during a training flight for the Air Force’s light-attack aircraft experiment, killing one of its aircrew members.

Navy Lt. Christopher Carey Short of Canandaigua, N.Y., died when the A-29 he was piloting crashed at 11:30 a.m. Mountain time over the Red Rio Bombing Range, which is part of the Army’s White Sands Missile Range and is north of Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. 

Two Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucanos fly over Kabul in 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Two Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucanos fly over Kabul in 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo)

"There's no way to describe the shock of this loss and the sadness we feel for his family," said Air Force Col. Houston Cantwell, commander of Holloman's 49th Wing. "He did pioneering work in aviation that will help shape American air power for years to come."

The second aircrew member, an Air Force officer who was not identified, sustained minor injuries and was flown to a local hospital.

The cause of the mishap is under investigation.

The Air Force began conducting the three-month experiment at Holloman in May to increase its understanding of light-attack aircraft. The A-29, a turboprop from Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) and Embraer Defense & Security, and the AT-6 Wolverine turboprop from Textron [TXT] Aviation Defense have been participating.

Air Force officials have said they would like to quickly buy up to several hundred planes after conducting the experiment, which builds on a flight demonstration they conducted last year (Defense Daily, May 14). They have said the low-cost, light-attack aircraft could ease the anti-terrorism workload on the service’s expensive fighter jets and improve interoperability with allies that cannot afford fighters.

The Air Force had no immediate comment on how the crash would affect the experiment or  procurement. But Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group, said he does not expect the mishap to alter the Air Force’s acquisition plans because the A-29 has received high marks for its service with the Afghan Air Force.

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