US Air Force Looking for Light-Attack Aircraft Bids As Soon as This Year

By Marc Selinger | May 18, 2018
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Lebanese student conducts first ‘in seat’ A-29 flight

The A-29 Super Tucan0 is one of the favorites for the U.S. Air Force's light-attack fighter requirement. Photo by Ceaira Young, courtesy of U.S. Air Force

A U.S. Air Force competition to buy light-attack aircraft might formally begin in as few as five months, according to an industry source.

The service has told aircraft manufacturers that it expects to issue a request for proposals as early as October, the source said May 14. A contract award for up to several hundred planes could occur within six months of the RFP’s release, the source added.

The Air Force declined to comment on the timeline, saying “it's too early” to discuss such details.

The Air Force has been exploring whether low-cost, light-attack aircraft could ease the anti-terrorism workload on its fighter jets, which are overtaxed and expensive to operate. The service also wants to see whether light-attack planes could improve interoperability with allies that cannot afford fighters.

Earlier this month, the Air Force began a three-month experiment at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico to evaluate the two leading contenders: the A-29 Super Tucano turboprop from Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer Defense & Security and the AT-6 Wolverine turboprop from Textron Aviation Defense.

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