USAF invites OA-X submissions from industry

21 March 2017

The US Air Force (USAF) has issued a solicitation for industry to participate in its OA-X light-attack aircraft effort.

The invitation to participate (ITP), which was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website on 17 March, calls on industry to submit proposals for the service's capability assessment of the Non-Developmental Light-Attack Platforms programme in support of the Office of Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE).

The SNC-Embraer A-29 Super Tucano most closely fits the requirements for a prospective light attack aircraft laid out by the USAF. (USAF)The SNC-Embraer A-29 Super Tucano most closely fits the requirements for a prospective light attack aircraft laid out by the USAF. (USAF)

Results from this capability assessment will be used to inform requirements and acquisition decisions as the USAF explores the options of employing non-developmental cost-effective light-attack platforms.

"The USAF is interested in using the rapid acquisition authorities … to fill one or more needs for a low-cost, multirole aircraft in its future fleet of attack aircraft. Because of the rapid timelines associated with these authorities, the SDPE is conducting this capability assessment as a part of its market research to learn whether any non-developmental, light-attack aircraft are available to meet these needs and within the aggressive timelines of these authorities. As such, the results of this experimentation campaign will inform future requirements and acquisition decisions, which may or may not lead to one or more defence acquisition programmes," the ITP read.

Aircraft requirements listed in the ITP include a pressurised cockpit (up to 25,000 ft) with tandem zero-zero ejection seats; a documented ability to employ Paveway II weapons, aerial gunnery, and guided/unguided rockets; a documented ability to meet a 2.5 hours (with an average total fuel flow approximately 1,500 lbs/hr) mission endurance with appropriate visual flight rules fuel reserves, full guns, and two weapon stations loaded with munitions (external fuel tanks are permissible to attain this mission endurance); a documented ability to taxi, take off, land, refuel, and re-arm on austere fields with unimproved surfaces (rated at a California Bearing Ratio-5) with no ground support other than fuel and US standard munitions handling equipment; a demonstrated ability to take off using a maximum runway length of fewer than 6,000 ft to clear a 50-foot obstacle, and to then fly a minimum 2.5 hour combat profile; and a documented manufacturing capability and capacity, in compliance with Buy America Act, to meet the intended production quantities and lot buys.

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