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US Air Force releases timeline for light attack aircraft procurement

07 August 2018
Aero Vodochody said it wants to offer its F/A-259 Striker for the USAF's light attack aircraft procurement. Source: Aero Vodochody via IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Key Points

  • The USAF expects a contract award for light attack aircraft by September 2019
  • The service is laying the ground work for acquiring light attack aircraft

The US Air Force (USAF) announced on 6 August that it formally intends to solicit proposals from limited sources and award one contract for light attack aircraft production.

The USAF anticipates a request for proposal (RFP) by December and a contract award by September 2019, according to a notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website. The service suggested that Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) and Textron Aviation were the only companies that appear to possess the capability of meeting the requirement within the USAF’s timeframe without causing a delay in meeting the needs of the warfighter.

SNC and Textron Aviation were the two companies that participated in the short-lived Light Attack Experiment (LAE), previously known as OA-X. LAE started in early May, but ended in early July after a fatal crash on 22 June. Navy Lieutenant Christopher Short died when the Embraer/SNC A-29 Super Tucano he was piloting crashed while over the Red Rio Bombing Range. Textron Aviation’s AT-6 Wolverine also participated in the flying portion of the LAE.

In addition to SNC and Textron Aviation, Aero Vodochody of the Czech Republic intends bid for the light attack procurement. The company said in mid-July at the Farnborough Airshow in the United Kingdom that it would offer its F/A-259 Striker aircraft. Aero Vodochody said it could not comment by the time of publication.

Dan Grazier, military fellow at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), has suggested that the USAF is not serious about procuring light attack aircraft.

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