U.S. Air Force after many years of discussion has taken first steps to acquire commercial, off-the-shelf aircraft for it its light attack aircraft (LAA) fleet.
According to a Friday post on Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps), U.S. Air Force has been looking forward to furnishing a deal for the Light Attack Aircraft program and intends to begin soliciting bids in December.
U.S. intend to acquire light attack aircrafts in an effort to step up it global warfare and combat operations it has undertaken for the past 25 years. The contract to supply the aircrafts is scheduled to be awarded in the fourth quarter of 2019.
For now, the supply program remains open for competition though according Air Force officials, the most worthwhile aircraft are the Textron Aviation AT-6 Wolverine and Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano.
The official cited that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Textron Aviation as the only firms that appears to possess the capability necessary to meet the Air Force’s requirements, timely and without causing undesirable delay to make the delivery of the warfighter.
A look at A-29 and AT-6
- Both turboprop planes designed to operate in austere combat environments.
- Both can land without needing a paved runway.
- A-29 maintenance-wise is very manageable and so is AT-6 Wolverine
- Both operated by a crew of two
- AT-6 Wolverine Light Attack warfighter can do a maximum speed of 510 mph (820 kph) while the Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano (A-29) can do 229 mph (368 mph).
Armament: AT-6 Wolverine
- Has up to 4 external fuel tanks, supports for NATO/MIL-STD-1760 munitions across six weaponized hardpoints.
- Has rocket pods for both guided and unguided launch
- Gun pods are 12.7mm and cannon are 20mm.
- Conventional drop ordinance, both unguided and GPS-tracked bombs
Armament: Super Tucano (A-29)
- 7mm FN Herstal M3P heavy machine guns
Supports air-to-air munitions;
- 2xAIM-9 Sidewinder short range air-to-air missiles.
- 2xMAA-1 Piranha air-air missiles.
- 2xPython ¾ air-to-air missiles.
Supports air-to-ground munitions;
- 4x70mm rocket launcher pods
- Conventional drop bombs
- Laser-guided/precision-guided bombs
- Has gun pods, cannon pods and jettisonable fuel tanks
The U.S. Air Force had made the announcement on Feb. 2, 2018, saying it was necessary to gather more data on training, maintenance, and logistics requirements for a new light attack platform aimed at boosting its combat operations especially in Afghanistan and Iraq.