In the wake of A-29 fatal crash during flight testing, USAF terminates flying phase of OA-X competition

In the wake of A-29 fatal crash during flight testing, USAF terminates flying phase of OA-X competition

By Dario Leone
Jul 6 2018
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However the OA-X competition has not ended even though flying has ceased

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has terminated the flying portion of its Light Attack Experiment (OA-X) after the fatal crash of an A-29 during flight testing.

However according The Hill, the decision to end the remaining in-flight tests will also not change the timeline for a potential acquisition.

In fact Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the service’s top uniformed acquisition official, told reporters that the USAF has collected enough data to determine if they want to begin a new program of record to buy a light-attack aircraft, to be called OA-X. He added that the experiment has not ended even though flying has ceased.

Lt. Christopher Carey Short was killed last month when the A-29 Super Tucano he was flying crashed during a light attack experiment flight over the Red Rio Bombing Range, near Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), N.M.

The experiment started May 7 and was expected to last three months before the accident. It featured the A-29, made by Sierra Nevada Corp and Embraer, in competition with the Beechcraft AT-6B Wolverine.

“Any time you lose an airman, you have to pause, and you have to pause and think a little bit,” Bunch told reporters.

“So the loss of Lt. Short is a critical setback for America, writ large. That is a big hit to all of us. Having said that, we were trying a different approach, we believe we’ve collected the data using the approach and I would see us using approaches similar to this in the future.”

The experiment was intended to inform officials on moving forward with the potential OA-X program, a fast-tracked buy of a cheaper aircraft to be used in counterterrorism operations. The light aircraft would be used in place of more expensive planes such as the A-10, F/A-18 or F-35 for overseas missions in the Middle East.

The cause of the A-29 crash is still under investigation.

Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Veronica Pierce / U.S. Air Force

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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