Sierra Nevada sees taxpayer savings in US-based light attack experiment Phase 2

07 February 2018

Key Points

  • SNC believes moving the light attack experiment state-side will help reduce programme costs
  • The USAF previously anticipated a combat demonstration overseas, but cancelled this idea

A Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) official believes the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) decision to hold Phase 2 of its light attack experiment in the United States will make participating aircraft more affordable and also perform the experiment in a more timely manner.

“Not having to deploy forces overseas and bring them back, we can jump right into the evaluation and hopefully press forward with the programme,” Taco Gilbert, SNC vice-president, told reporters on 7 February. “We think it saves time and money and we support the Air Force’s decision.”

Nigeria last week signed its LOA to buy 12 A-29 Super Tucanos, subject to approval by the US Congress. (US Air Force)Nigeria last week signed its LOA to buy 12 A-29 Super Tucanos, subject to approval by the US Congress. (US Air Force)

The USAF on 2 February announced it was cancelling the proposed combat demonstration portion of the light attack experiment, formerly known as OA-X, and, instead, continuing to experiment with maintenance, data networking, and sensors. The service also chose to move forward with two of the four aircraft from last summer’s experiment: the Textron Aviation AT-6 Wolverine and the SNC/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano. The Textron AirLand Scorpion and L3 Technologies-Air Tractor AT-802L Longsword also participated in last summer’s experiment.

This second experiment phase will take place from May to July at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. The USAF will experiment further with logistics and maintenance requirements, weapons and sensor issues, training syllabus validity, networking, and future interoperability with partner forces, according to a USAF statement. The service will also experiment with rapidly building and operating an exportable, affordable network to enable aircraft to communicate with joint and multinational forces, as well as command and control (C2) nodes.

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