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US Air Force confirms plan to buy six light attack aircraft

16 May 2019
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The USAF settled on purchasing six light attack aircraft for further experimentation. Pictured are Sierra Nevada Corp/Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos. Source: US Air Force

Key Points

  • The US Air Force has settled on purchasing six light attack aircraft for further experimentation
  • It will also perform additional international market research for turbojet and turbofan aircraft, among others

The US Air Force (USAF) has settled on buying six total light attack aircraft from Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) and Textron Aviation Defense as part of its further experimentation work, according to the service's secretary.

Secretary Heather Wilson said on 16 May that the service would send three aircraft to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and Hurlburt Air Force Base in Florida to provide allies opportunities to fly with the USAF and check out the equipment. The air force said previously on 8 May that it would award a contract to SNC for two to three Embraer/SNC A-29 Super Tucanos and that a second procurement action, also for two to three aircraft, would be issued to Textron Aviation Defense for AT-6 Wolverine aircraft.

The USAF, in the next year, will also work with industry to perform a market assessment for a variety of aircraft types. These include turboprop, turbojet, and turbofan, among others. The service was previously considering this market analysis.

"One of the reasons for us to buy this is to enable our allies to do the same," Wilson said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast. "We recognise that not all allies may want the same thing, so we just need to understand that more."

SNC, Textron Aviation Defense, and the USAF did not return requests for comment.

Dan Grazier, military fellow with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) watchdog group in Washington, DC, believes the USAF performing market research for a variety of light attack aircraft types demonstrates the service is working on the behalf of the defence industry.

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