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