The news comes as a blow for joint venture Textron AirLand’s five-year-old campaign to win the endorsement of the USAF for the company-funded Scorpion
As reported by Flight Global, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has excluded the Textron AirLand Scorpion light-attack aircraft from the next phase of its OA-X experiment, leaving Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine and the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano as the finalists for a potential follow-on acquisition deal.
The news comes as a blow for joint venture Textron AirLand’s five-year-old campaign to win the endorsement of the USAF for the company-funded Scorpion, a twinjet designed to perform as a light-attack and observation platform.
“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 AT-6 Wolverine and the A-29 Super Tucano,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in a service news release. “This will let us gather the data needed for a rapid procurement.”
Further experimentation will examine logistics and maintenance requirements, weapons and sensor issues, training syllabus validity, networking and future interoperability with partner forces. The USAF will also experiment with rapidly building and operating an exportable, affordable network to enable aircraft to communicate with joint and multi-national forces, as well as command-and-control nodes.
“This effort to find a lower-cost and exportable aircraft for permissive environments is directly in line with the National Defense Strategy,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein. “A light attack aircraft would not only provide relief to our 4th and 5th generation aircraft, but also bolster our interoperability, so we can more effectively employ airpower as an international team.”
As we have previously explained Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas, director of Air Force public affairs, told that OA-X program is aimed to find a cheaper close air support (CAS) platform that would be needed to perform the mission over permissive environments which don’t require F-22 or F-35 stealth fighters. However it must be noted that OA-X program is not focused on finding an aircraft to replace the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt II but rather on finding a light attack aircraft to complement the Hog in CAS missions.
Photo credit: Textron AirLand and U.S. Air Force
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com