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Military Capabilities

US Air Force sees international interest in light attack experiment

09 August 2017

Key Points

  • Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Uruguay are all attending the USAF experiment
  • Could signal possible interest in participating platforms

Five nations are attending the US Air Force’s (USAF) light attack experiment taking place at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, according to USAF officials.

Light Attack Experiment Lead Ravi Penmetsa told Jane’s in an 8 August interview those nations are Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Uruguay. Penmetsa said Tunisia was scheduled to attend, but dropped out.

International attendance at the light attack experiment could signal possible interest in the aircraft flying in the experiment: Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) and Embraer with their A-29 Super Tucano, Textron AirLand’s Scorpion attack fighter, Beechcraft’s AT-6 Wolverine, and Air Tractor and L3 Technologies’ AT-802L Longsword aircraft.

Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Uruguay are all attending the US Air Force's light attack experiment taking place this month in New Mexico. (USAF)Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Uruguay are all attending the US Air Force's light attack experiment taking place this month in New Mexico. (USAF)

USAF officials warned contractors early that there would be little feedback during the experiment, which started earlier than scheduled on 27 July, but they insist this is for good measure. Penmetsa said with multiple aircrews flying in, the service does not want individual opinions to influence data collection. He said the USAF wanted to collect all the data first, make an assessment of the data, and come up with recommendations for leadership and sharable versions that will be provided to participants.

Penmetsa said some examples of feedback or metrics the USAF will provide to participating contractors include flying qualities, handling qualities, deployed weapons, and how many times weapons were deployed. Air Combat Command (ACC) Staff Lead for Light Attack Colonel Michael Pietrucha told Jane’s in the same 8 August interview that the USAF is being very careful to protect participating companies’ proprietary information, items like mission systems and design features.

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