The Air Force is canceling all remaining flight demonstrations for its light-attack aircraft experiment following a recent fatal crash of an A-29 plane, the service said last week.
Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the head of the Air Force’s acquisition office, said the program to test the feasibility of light-attack aircraft will continue despite flights being grounded, with a Request for Proposals expected in December.
“The Air Force has decided to conclude the flying portion of the Light Attack Experiment. We will work with our industry partners to complete any remaining test requirements (developmental, maintenance and/or sustainment data) that are necessary to support future acquisition decisions,” Maj. Christine Guthrie, an Air Force spokeswoman, said.
An A-29, built by Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer, crashed on June 22 during a training flight over the White Sands Missile range in New Mexico resulting in the death of a pilot. The cause of the incident is still being investigated by the Air Force.
Officials have delayed a planned light-attack demonstration day originally scheduled for July 19 for later in 2018, according to Guthrie.
Bunch has stated that the Air Force plans to keep the program going with plans to begin competition for a new light-attack aircraft by the end of the year.
Air Force officials have said the low-cost, light attack planes would ease the anti-terrorism workload on its fighter jets and improve interoperability with partners that don’t have access to expensive fighters.
Gen. James Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, previously said he does not expect the crash to impede the program’s process and pointed to a $300 million increase in the FY ’19 defense spending bill to go after light-attack procurement (Defense Daily, June 28).