The US Air Force (USAF) has decided against holding a real-world demonstration as part of its light attack aircraft experiment.
The service had previously said it would take a number of the light strike aircraft that were participating in what was previously referred to as OA-X to an undisclosed combat zone, probably in the Middle East. However, on 2 February the Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said this event would not now take place.
“Rather than do a combat demonstration, we have decided to work closely with industry to experiment with maintenance, data networking, and sensors with the two most promising light attack aircraft — the [Textron] AT-6 Wolverine and the [SNC-Embraer] A-29 Super Tucano,” said Wilson. “This will let us gather the data needed for a rapid procurement.”
Phase 1 for OA-X took place in August 2017, and involved the AT-6B Wolverine, A-29 Super Tucano, Textron Scorpion, and L3 Technologies-Air Tractor AT-802L Longsword. As the official noted, the first two platforms were designated as Tier 1 for meeting all of the USAF’s requirements, while the latter two were classed as being Tier 2 for meeting some of them. During this phase, USAF officials as well as those from Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Uruguay assessed the aircraft through a series of representative close air support (CAS) tasks that involved machine gun strafing as well as freefall and guided-munition drops.
The secretary’s comments came about three months after a senior USAF official, speaking to Jane’s and other defence media under the Chatham House rule, said the planned combat demonstration was to take place as part of Phase 2 of OA-X.
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