Tuesday, 7 March 2017

US Air Force planning a light attack aircraft experiment this summer

US Air Force to hold light attack experiment this summer



The US Air Force is planning a light attack aircraft experiment at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico this summer, marking the service’s first step to introduce a new, low-cost fighter.

The USAF chief and acting secretary will direct the experiment this week, which would continue work from a previous US Special Operations Command effort known as Combat Dragon. While Combat Dragon I operated low-cost aircraft at Fallon Naval Air Station, Nevada, the second Combat Dragon exercise demonstrated OV-10 Broncos in the Middle East.

The air force will invite industry to demonstrate off-the-shelf aircraft at Holloman, which will determine whether the service should transition to a second phase with demonstrations in the Middle East, USAF chief Gen David Goldfein told reporters 3 March at the annual Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida.

USAF acting secretary Lisa Disbrow also made a significant push for the OA-X concept during her address at the annual Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida this week. Today, much of the air force’s demand comes from permissive environments, she told reporters.

“When you look at the cost of flying hours that we could potentially save is there a part of the mission that could be serviced by this part of the fleet,” Disbrow says. “Then that frees up the more complex assets to allow pilots to train for the full spectrum threat to be ready.”

At the same time, Disbrow called for an overall increase in aircraft. Although the USAF’s deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements warned against accelerating F-35 procurement before the development of Block 4, Goldfein and Disbrow are vouching for an increased buy. In addition to new procurement, the air force’s budget also calls for upgrades to legacy F-15s, F-16s and bombers, Disbrow says.

“We have to be responsible at budgeting,” she says. “It’s going to be a mix...we can’t just turn a switch and automatically have a new inventory to refresh and upgrade our aircraft we have on the ramp.”

Original post: flightglobal.com

"At this point, it’s unclear whether the Air Force will limit its options to inexpensive turboprop airplanes or if a more advanced light fighter could be of interest. Much excitement has surrounded the Textron AirLand Scorpion since it was released on the market. The aircraft hasn’t secured its first order yet, but its low operating and acquisition costs — less than $20 million per unit and $3,000 per flight hour — could make it a good fit for OA-X.

Other low-cost options could include the Beechcraft AT-6 or Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano. If the service considers higher-performing entries, some T-X entrants — particularly Lockheed Martin’s FA-50 or Leonardo’s M-346 — could be other alternatives." Source defensenews.com

Related post:

Embraer EMB 314/A-29 Super Tucano: Details

Beechcraft AT-6: Details

Scorpion jet: Details

M-346 Master: Details

KAI T-50 Golden Eagle: Details