Air Force Plans Second Light-Attack Aircraft Experiment

The U.S. Air Force intends to conduct a second phase of experiments with light-attack aircraft this spring and summer, the service said Feb. 2.

The Air Force said in a statement that the second round will take place from May to July at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona and involve “the two most promising” aircraft it used in last year’s flight demonstration: the AT-6 Wolverine turboprop from Textron [TXT] Aviation Defense and the A-29 Super Tucano turboprop from Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) and Embraer Defense & Security. 

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)

The Air Force had considered conducting a combat demonstration this year (Defense Daily, Sept. 18, 2017) but ultimately decided that another experiment will provide the data it needs if it decides to hold a competition to quickly buy aircraft.

The upcoming experiment will focus on communication networks, interoperability with allies, logistics, maintenance, sensors, training and weapons.

A total of four industry-provided aircraft flew during last summer’s experiment: an A-29, an AT-6, a Scorpion jet from Textron and an AT-802L Longsword turboprop from Air Tractor and L3 Technologies [LLL].

The Air Force is exploring whether low-cost, light-attack aircraft could ease the anti-terrorism workload on its fighter jets, which are overtaxed and expensive to operate.

The Air Force said that five foreign partners observed the first phase and that it plans to invite more to observe the second. 

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