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05/18/2017 - A-29 chosen for USAF assessment

By John Culbertson | May 18, 2017 | Newsline


This post was originally published on this site

May 16 (UPI) — The A-29 light attack aircraft from the Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer is participating in a U.S. Air Force capability assessment.

The assessment known as AO-X, or Capability Assessment of Non-Developmental Light Attack Platforms, will be held in New Mexico in July to evaluate the benefits of the USAF acquiring a new, low-cost, non-developmental light attack aircraft for close air support and cost-effective pilot training.

The Air Force will also assess light attack platforms for seasoning of trained pilots.

“SNC is proud to participate in the USAF’s effort to enhance warfighter support and bring greater value and affordability to the American taxpayer,” said Taco Gilbert, senior vice president for SNC´s Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance business area. “Partnering with Embraer, we’re proud to present the U.S.-made, combat-proven A-29 as part of this experiment.”

The A-29 Super Tucano, a turboprop aircraft, is made in Florida and has been certified by the Air Force for fighter and ISR, or intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

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05/15/2017 - The U.S. Air Force's OA-X Light Attack Aircraft Competition Is Heating Up

Dave Majumdar | May 15, 2017 | The National Interest


Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and its Brazilian partner Embraer Defense & Security have been invited to participate in the U.S. Air Force’s OA-X light attack aircraft demonstration this summer.

The two companies will submit the A-29 Super Tucano counter-insurgency aircraft—which the Air Force had previously selected for its Light Air Support program in 2013 to equip the Afghan Air Force—for the demonstration effort. The OA-X Capability Assessment of Non-Developmental Light Attack Platforms will begin this July at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

“SNC is proud to participate in the USAF's effort to enhance warfighter support and bring greater value and affordability to the American taxpayer,” Taco Gilbert, senior vice president for SNC´s Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) business area, said in a May 12 statement. “Partnering with Embraer, we’re proud to present the U.S.-made, combat-proven A-29 as part of this experiment.”

The OA-X assessment may eventually lead to a U.S. Air Force program of record and an eventual tender to buy a light attack aircraft. At present, the OA-X experiment is part of an Air Force initiative to explore the pros and cons of buying a new light attack aircraft for the close air support role and for other missions in permissive and semi-permissive environments.

The Air Force is currently using expensive high-performance fourth and even fifth-generation fighters to perform those sorts of missions, which is not only massive overkill but also consumes precious airframe life on those jets. Moreover, it is extremely expensive to use an Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle that costs roughly $27,000 per flight hour or a Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, which costs roughly $42,000 per flight hour, to bomb poorly armed insurgents. An OA-X might only cost between $4000 and $5000 per flight hour, dramatically reducing costs.

The OA-X aircraft might also be used to reduce some of the Air Force’s fighter pilot training costs and help to accelerate pilot seasoning—alleviating some of the burden from the service’s increasingly decrepit fleet of Northrop T-38A Talon advanced jet trainers. The idea behind the OA-X is that the new light attack aircraft would allow the Air Force to accomplish those missions while preserving and extending the service lives of its other combat aircraft.

Sierra Nevada and Embraer’s pitch is that the A-29—which the Air Force picked for its earlier LAS program—already has an existing military type certificate and, as such, would be incredibly easy for the service to adopt. The aircraft was also derived from a trainer, and as such, is ideal for helping to increasing pilot proficiency.

“The A-29 is uniquely suited for training and seasoning fighter pilots,” Jackson Schneider, president and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security said in a statement. “This means more highly-trained pilots more quickly and less expensively, while allowing other platforms to do the work they do best.”

The two companies are quick to point out that while the Super Tucano was developed in Brazil, it is currently manufactured in Jacksonville Florida. Indeed, rival Texton used the A-29’s foreign origin against Sierra Nevada and Embraer during the bitter LAS competition. The Super Tucano prevailed in the end, but intense Textron lobbying successfully truncated the LAS program, which will likely end after only 20 aircraft are built.

Indeed, if the OA-X effort does proceed to become a full-scale acquisition program, Textron—which is also participating in the demonstration with its Scorpion light attack jet and AT-6 turboprop attack aircraft—is certain to attack Super Tucano because of its South American origins. For Textron, the OA-X is likely its best—and possibly only shot—at ever selling its Scorpion light attack jet to a paying customer.

However, that being said, there are real doubts as to how serious the Air Force is about the OA-X program. The current effort is the second iteration of OA-X after a previous iteration of the program in 2008 came to naught. While many airpower advocates insist that the Air Force is serious this time around, history has shown time and again that the service prefers big, complex and expensive combat aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and will sacrifice almost anything to fund those programs.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.

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05/12/2017 - Fight against Taliban: Afghan Air Force's newest weapon is a small prop plane

By Christopher Wallace | Published May 12, 2017 | Fox News

The key to defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan during the so-called spring-fighting season is not with jet-fueled American superpower hardware. Instead, the Pentagon said, the secret weapon is a small propeller plane reminiscent of World World II technology.

The Pentagon first started training the Afghans to pilot the A-29 Super Tucano last year. And the Afghan Air Force got another eight just in time for the spring-fighting season, when the snow melts and the Taliban gears up to defend the opium poppy fields, fresh in bloom.

It’s an annual escalation of violence that always begins with a Taliban press release, sent out this year on April 28th. They named this year’s offensive “Operation Mansouri” after the Taliban leader killed by a U.S. drone strike.

In just the past few days, the Taliban reportedly overran a district in Northern Afghanistan, causing thousands of people to flee. A bombing at a religious school killed the chief cleric and four students. Afghanistan’s Air Force struck Islamic State targets in eastern Afghanistan.

“Our focus right now continues to be down in the south,” said Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, “where we believe that the Taliban will want to protect their poppy investments and their drug trafficking.”

The brigadier general described the various efforts and resources poured into preparing the Afghan government forces to tackle the Taliban, including 900 new Humvees, new weapons and new training by U.S. Army troops and Marines.

But one of the newest, “most important” weapons will be the new propeller planes piloted by U.S.-trained Afghans.

“This time last year they had zero. This time today they have eight attack aircraft, and by the end of 2017 they will have another eight. It's gonna provide a tremendous bump and a tremendous extra piece of what the Afghans need to defend themselves,” Cleveland said at a press conference in Kabul.

They’ve already seen action. Late last month, the Afghan Ministry of Defense said an A-29 Super Tucano killed at least four Taliban manning a Russian-built DShK heavy machine gun in southern Uruzgan province. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has publicly accused Russia of moving weapons through Iran to arm the Taliban.

Despite looking like a small private propeller plane, the A-29 is neither old nor frail. The Pentagon says the Brazilian-made A-29 was designed in the mid-90s to operate in rugged, extreme high and low temperature environments like Afghanistan. It’s currently being used by 10 militaries around the world.

The Afghans are hopeful that it will make a difference this spring-fighting season, after 5,000 Afghan army deaths just the past year.

“This aircraft has the ability to fire rockets and machine guns,” said Col. Bahadur Khan of the Afghan Air Force. “This fighting aircraft will provide security and combat support for our ground units."

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03/27/2017 - Lebanese pilot trainee flies A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft for first time

A Lebanese pilot trainee has flown an A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft for the first time, as part of a training programme conducted by the US Air Force (USAF).

The first ‘in seat’ training sortie was conducted at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, on 22 March this year.

The training programme is being conducted to ensure that the Lebanese Air Force receives the support and training needed to safely and effectively employ the A-29 aircraft, the USAF stated.

USAF 81st Fighter Squadron instructor pilot said: “It was his first flight in the aircraft so it was a great (opportunity) for him to get oriented in the A-29 and how it flies.

“[Since training began] this was the first opportunity that we’ve had to get the first Lebanese airborne.

"They’ve been doing ground training, learning the procedures, patterns, simulator and emergency procedures."

Upon completion of the programme, 12 pilots and approximately 20 maintainers will be able to stand up their own fully functional A-29 squadron and be able to continue operations on their own in Lebanon, according to the statement.

The 12 Lebanese pilots will be fully-trained operational combat pilots in the A-29 aircraft and will be able to fight ISIS on their eastern border.

Built by Embraer, the Super Tucano light-attack aircraft is equipped with mission and display processors that receive and process data from sensors, navigation and attack variables and manage a multitude of other tasks such as hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) operations.

Image: A Lebanese A-29 Super Tucano student pilot from the 81st Fighter Squadron, conducts the first 'in-seat' training sortie. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf.

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03/22/2017 - Who Are Contenders For OA-X Light-Attack Demo?

Lara Seligman | Mar 22, 2017 | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The U.S. Air Force will take its first step toward potentially fielding a low-cost, light- attack aircraft this summer with a flight demonstration at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. The service is looking to choose up to four industry partners to bring one or two off-the-shelf aircraft to Holloman for a capability assessment in which Air Force aircrew will evaluate each aircraft’s ability to perform light attack and armed reconnaissance missions and operate from austere locations.

For industry, the stakes are high—the selected designs will likely have an advantage if the Air Force moves forward with a 300-aircraft buy. Since affordability is a main driver, Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp.’s A-29 Super Tucano is an obvious front- runner. Already in service with the Afghan air force through the U.S. Light Air Support (LAS) program, the turboprop is a proven asset, with historically low operating costs.

Textron also has a shot, with either its turboprop AT-6 Wolverine or light jet Scorpion. However, the AT-6 lost out to the A-29 in the 2011 LAS competition. Meanwhile, the Scorpion has never quite found its niche. Its performance is not up to par with most true fighters, and its reported $3,000-per-hour operating costs might be too expensive for an OA-X capability.

Other less obvious options will likely start appearing as the OA-X effort gains traction. Here is a look at some of the possibilities.

 

 

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A-29 Super Tucano (Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp.)

This turboprop light-attack aircraft is designed for counterinsurgency, close air support and aerial reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments. Designed to operate in high temperatures and extremely rugged terrain, the A-29 is highly maneuverable and has a low heat signature. It is in service with the Brazilian, Colombian, Chilean, Dominican and Ecuadorian air forces as well as the Afghan air force. The first of 30 Afghan A-29 pilots have graduated from training at Moody AFB, Georgia, and returned to Afghanistan. The full fleet of 20 A-29s will be in place by 2018.

Max. Speed: 367 mph
Combat Radius: 300 nm fully loaded
Endurance: 8 hr. 24 min.
Fuel Capacity: 3,300 lb.
Hard Points: 5 external, 2 under each wing, 1 under centerline fuselage

 

 

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AT-6 Wolverine (Textron/Beechcraft)

The AT-6 also is a low-cost turboprop, based on Beechcraft’s T-6 Texan trainer, used by the Air Force for basic pilot training and combat systems officer training, and by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps for primary and intermediate naval flight officer training. It is used widely as a basic trainer by the Canadian, Greek, Iraqi and Israeli air forces as well.

Max. Airspeed: 514 mph
Max. Ferry Range: 1,725 nm (with four external fuel tanks)
Max. Load: 4,110 lb.
Internal Fuel Capacity: 1,200 lb.
Hard Points: 7

 

 

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Scorpion (Textron Airland)

This is a bit of a dark-horse candidate. The Scorpion made its first flight in 2013 but has not yet signed any customers. Textron recently withdrew the Scorpion from the Air Force’s T-X Advanced Pilot Trainer competition because it cannot meet the stringent requirements.

The Scorpion is a light jet rather than a turboprop, with the operating costs to prove it.

Max. Speed: 518 mph
Ferry Range: 2,200 nm (with auxiliary fuel)
Fuel Capacity: 6,000 lb.
Hard Points: 6 (6,200-lb. capacity)
Internal Weapon Capacity: 3,000 lb.

 

 

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M346FT (Leonardo)

Leonardo says it is focused now on offering a variant of its M346 twin-engine transonic trainer for the Air Force’s T-X competition, but it will likely pitch the M346FT for the OA-X demonstration. Originally codeveloped with Russia’s Yakovlev as the Yak/AEM-130, the partnership was dissolved in 2000.

The M346 trainer is operated by the Israeli, Italian, Polish and Singaporean air forces. The M346FT is the multirole version of the advanced trainer.

Max. Speed: 658 mph
Ferry Range: 1,470 nm (with 3 external tanks)
Endurance: 2.75 hr.
Hard Points: 9 (6,600-lb. capacity)

 

 

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Hawk (BAE Systems)

This single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer is used by the Royal Air Force and several military operators of other countries. Northrop Grumman had planned to offer the Hawk T2 for the Air

Force’s T-X program, but in February 2015 it decided the British aircraft was not suited for the program requirements.

Aside from the age of the design, the Hawk might also be too expensive for OA-X, at £18 million per unit in 2003 or $33 million today.

Max. Speed: 638 mph
Fuel Capacity: 1,500 lb.
Hard Points: 5 (6,800-lb. capacity)

 

 

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OV-10X (Boeing)

The original founders of the OA-X concept, which dates back to 2007 as the surge in Iraq reached its peak, were inspired by the Vietnam War-era North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco, an observation aircraft that was repurposed as a light-attack bird. The Air Force even went so far as to evaluate two OV-10G+ aircraft—on loan from NASA—for the OA-X as part of the Combat Dragon II program. In 2009, Boeing put together plans internally to build a modernized version of the Bronco, dubbed the OV-10X, for a possible light-attack aircraft.

Although the original OA-X and following Light Attack and Armed Reconnaissance programs were both canceled, Boeing may revive the OV-10X concept for the new OA-X plan.

Max. Speed: 288 mph
Range: 700 nm (with internal fuel) 1,200 nm (with drop tank)
Hard Points: 7

 

 

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T-X Variant (Boeing-Saab)

Boeing insists it is focused on winning the T-X competition, but it could also offer a variant of its “Next-Gen T-X” for the OA-X demonstration. Boeing and partner Saab built a clean-sheet design for T-X, unveiling a twin-tail, single-engine jet in September that looks like a hybrid of an F/A-18 Super Hornet and a Gripen.

Boeing and Saab’s T-X is a twin-tail airframe designed for high maneuverability and angle of attack, powered by the single GEF404 engine used in the classic F/A-18 Hornet. It has two hard points on each wing and one on the centerline fuselage.

 

 

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Variant of T-50 (Lockheed Martin/Korea Aerospace Industries)

Similar to Boeing/Saab and Leonardo, Lockheed Martin could offer a light-attack variant of its T-50A for the OA-X demonstration. Lockheed last year decided against offering a clean-sheet design for T- X, instead settling on the T-50A codeveloped with Korea Aerospace Industries. The aircraft is based on the T-50, which is in service with the South Korean air force.

The T-50 is powered by a single GE F404.

Max. Speed: Mach 1.5
Range: 1,150 mi.
Hard Points: 7 (8,250-lb. capacity)

 

 

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Archangel (Iomax)

Iomax USA’s Archangel was unveiled at the Paris Air Show in 2013 and completed its first flight in July 2014. It is an armed surveillance aircraft designed to provide improved precision strike capabilities against fixed and moving targets over land and at sea. The United Arab Emirates is buying the Archangel for border patrol.

Cruise Speed: 207 mph
Endurance: 10 hr.+
Hard Points: 6 (on wings) 1 (on centerline)

 

 

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OA-8 Longsword (L3 Technologies)

L3 Technologies and Air Tractor marketed their AT-802L as the OA-8 Longsword at the 2017 Avalon Airshow in Australia. The Longsword is adapted from Air Tractor’s AT-802 agricultural aircraft, which can be configured into firefighting or armed versions.

Range: 400 nm range
On-station Time: 5 hr.+ (in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance configuration)
Endurance: 10 hr.+
Payload Capacity: 6,200 lb.

 

 

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ARES (Northrop Grumman/Scaled Composites)

The ARES Scaled Model 151 was initially designed in response to a U.S. Army request for a low- cost battlefield attack aircraft. Its mission goals were low-altitude, close-air support, with long endurance and with adequate field performance to operate from roads. Although the Army never bought the platform, Scaled Composites built a demonstrator with internal funds. The ARES first flew in February 1990.

ARES is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5 turbofan engine rather than the originally proposed turboprop, and is armed with a GAU-12/U 25-mm cannon.

Max. Speed: 466 mph (at 25,000 ft.)
Combat Radius: 600 nm

 

 

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KA-1 (Korea Aerospace Industries)

Possible international bidder that would need a U.S. partner.

 

 

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Hurkus-C (Turkish Aerospace Industries)

Possible international bidder that would need a U.S. partner.

 

 

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FMA IA 58 Pucará (Fábrica Militar de Aviones)

International possibilities (would need US partner).

 

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03/20/2017 - Additional A-29s Arrive in Kabul in Time for Fighting Season

Additional A-29s Arrive in Kabul in Time for Fighting Season

By Air Force Capt. Jason Smith, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

KABUL, Afghanistan, March 22, 2017 — Four A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft arrived for duty at Kabul Air Wing here, March 20, 2017, where they will be used by the Afghan air force for close-air attack, air interdiction, escort and armed reconnaissance.

The latest arrivals, which traveled from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, bring the Afghan air force A-29 inventory from eight to 12 aircraft in country.

There are still seven A-29s assigned to Moody where they are used for training pilots.

“The four additional aircraft will allow us to increase the number of missions we are able to support nationwide,” said an Afghan air force A-29 pilot who can’t be identified for security reasons. “More targets can be attacked -- more ground troops can be supported.”

The Afghan A-29 pilot said sometimes a nation needs its military to pressure the enemy in order to develop peace and stability.

“The AAF plays a major role in this,” he said. “We are helping the peace process. When an A-29 is overhead, it gives motivation to the ground troops, and the enemy realizes they can be struck anywhere and will feel the pressure to come to the peace table. This is how we will bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.”

Air Force Brig. Gen. David Hicks, Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air and 438th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, said the A-29s were a “game changer” in the 2016 fighting season, and he has high expectations for the aircraft and crews in 2017.

“The AAF pilots are continually gaining proficiency in the A-29,” Hicks said. “They are capable of providing air attack anywhere in the country. In the past, the Afghan National Army relied on the coalition for air support. Now, it’s their own countrymen overhead flying the missions.”

‘Unique Bond’

Hicks said the additional A-29s give the Afghan air force more options to deploy airpower throughout the country.

Air Force Lt. Col. Johnnie Green, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron commander, said the AAF and U.S. A-29 pilots have a unique bond.

“We have developed a close relationship with the Afghan A-29 pilots over several years now, not just in training, but also in the development of their own fighter squadron and advising them while they conduct operations,” Green said. “Training in the United States allows us the freedom and flexibility to control the environment and instruct to specific objectives, and the standard we hold them to directly translate to what they do in combat.”

Green said the AAF A-29 pilots are performing remarkably well, and the pilots have demonstrated excellent decision making.

“The experience they have gained in one year since beginning combat operations is phenomenal, and they are communicating these experiences with each other,” he said. “That is so important, as the new A-29 pilots return from training and begin flying combat operations themselves.”

The newest A-29s will undergo a brief reconfiguration after which they will be ready for combat operations in the 2017 fighting season.

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03/15/2017 - U.S. Air Force Low-Cost Fighters: Does OA-X Stand A Chance?

Lara Seligman | Mar 15, 2017 | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The U.S. Air Force has taken another baby step toward possibly buying 300 low-cost, light- attack aircraft to fight violent extremists in the Middle East. Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has approved a light-attack fighter flight demonstration at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, this summer to look at the capabilities of existing commercial designs.

But the “OA-X” concept is not a new idea. It dates back to 2007, as the surge in Iraq reached its peak and demands on air power there were at an all-time high, says Mike Pietrucha, now a colonel in the Air Force Reserves. At the time, the Air Force was starting to realize it had a fly-and-sledgehammer problem in the Middle East: Since 1991 it had been wearing out its expensive fighters striking terrorists armed with much cheaper and less sophisticated weapons.

“It is as if we were trying to shuttle kids to and from school, large numbers of them, in a Porsche,” says Pietrucha, one of the creators of the OA-X concept. “It’s not that our current aircraft are not good at the job—they are. It was just the most expensive solution.”

Inspired by the Colombian air force’s modern fleet of turboprop light-attack aircraft— including Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano, the older EMB-312 Tucano, Cessna’s Vietnam-era A-37 Dragonfly modernized with a partial glass cockpit, and the Douglas AC-47 gunship— Pietrucha, Lt. Col. David Torres-Laboy and Lt. Col. Mike Saridakis began studying a more cost-effective solution to fighting terrorists. They looked in particular at the Douglas A-1 Skyraider, a Korean War-vintage aircraft that had been retired by the U.S. Navy, and the North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco, an observation aircraft that was repurposed as a light-attack bird.

“We said, ‘OK, we’re combat-experienced dudes, let’s take a look at that kind of aircraft and update it conceptually with what we expect in a modern combat aircraft: precision weapons, sensors, situational awareness tools, data links, communications, etc,” says Pietrucha.

Out of this study came the OA-X Enabling Concept, officially approved by Air Combat Command in 2008, which laid out the requirements of an affordable light-attack and observation aircraft. The guidelines then were almost exactly the same as they are today: a commercial-off-the shelf aircraft with a turboprop powerplant—easier to maintain and more fuel-efficient than a jet engine, thus much cheaper to operate—and big guns, along with

modern precision munitions, sensors and communications suites. A key advantage of OA-X, then and now, is that it eases the burden on the A-10, bomber and fighter fleets currently flying close-air support (CAS) missions in the Middle East, while simultaneously lowering operating costs of CAS and armed reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments.

The original OA-X fell victim to the funding challenges of 2008, says Pietrucha. However, it did lead to several other initiatives, including Light Attack and Armed Reconnaissance, canceled in fiscal 2012, and the more successful Light Air Support effort to buy a small fleet of light-attack aircraft—eventually Super Tucanos—to train the Afghan air force.

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The U.S. Air Force is looking at possibly buying 300 low-cost, light-attack OA-X aircraft, inspired by the legacy OV-10 Bronco, to help fight terrorists in the Middle East. Credit: Technical Sgt. Bill Thompson/U.S. Air Force

“By 2008 we already had more mission than we had Air Force, and so if we got additional dollars we really needed to fix things that were broken or were on the verge of breaking,” Pietrucha says. “When you are under those kind of conditions with your funding stream, you spend a lot of time patching holes rather than reassessing.”

The air force is now reviving the OA-X concept. Potential contenders include the Super Tucano, Textron’s Scorpion and Beechcraft’s T-6. Money is still a problem—Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) detailed a 300-aircraft buy for just less than $6 billion over six years in a recent white paper—but the time may be right to introduce a light-attack fleet. The Trump administration has promised to lift sequestration cuts and invest more money in defense, from building a 350-ship Navy to boosting the number of Air Force combat-coded fighters to 1,200.

In addition, the Air Force has a pilot-retention problem. One way to keep experienced pilots in the service and simultaneously boost the ability to train new pilots is to buy additional seats.

“We are almost 1,000 pilots short, and that situation will never get better unless we have more cockpits,” Pietrucha says. “Because the cost to operate a turboprop is so much lower than a jet, if you compare to a Strike Eagle, you are probably looking at between one-sixth and 1/10 the cost, so you can fly the cheaper aircraft a whole lot more.”

Still, OA-X faces many obstacles. Gen. (ret.) Herbert Carlisle, chief of Air Combat Command until March 10, questions the utility of investing in a light-attack fighter—designed for low- end combat— that would not be survivable in more hostile air space.

“Would it be viable in the environments we are trying to operate in the future?” Carlisle asks. “The threat is getting greater capability, and the threat environment is increasing. So when we look at OA-X, we can’t look at it based on what we are doing today. I think the procurement cost and then the savings in [operations and maintenance] are very compelling, but I think the environment it is going to operate in is the one we really have to understand before we commit too many resources.”

However, Pietrucha argues that “permissive airspace is the majority of the planet, the majority of the time.” Many countries, and particularly nonstate actors, cannot afford the

advanced radars and surface-to-air missiles that pose a real threat to nonstealth aircraft, he notes. Turboprop aircraft are actually less vulnerable to the more common infrared seekers because the exhaust plumes are much cooler than those of the traditional jet fighter, he asserts.

The Air Force will be fighting coalition and irregular wars in permissive airspace for the foreseeable future, says Pietrucha. As long as that environment exists, a light-attack aircraft will be invaluable. “We are not talking about a radar threat environment, so for the vast majority of the world and certainly in our fight against violent extremists, you are looking at a lightly contested environment that these aircraft might as well have been designed for,” he says.

 

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02/28/2017 - With aging jets and a shortage of pilots, the Air Force weighs buying throwback ‘light-attack’ planes

By Dan Lamothe

The U.S. Air Force is facing a potentially protracted air war against the Islamic State. Aging fighter jets and a shrinking pilot corps is forcing the Air Force to look at using “light-attack” propeller planes. (Dan Lamothe, Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

The U.S. Air Force, faced with a potentially protracted war against the Islamic State, aging fighter jets and a shrinking force of pilots, is examining the adoption of a new fleet of “light-attack” planes that are both a throwback to earlier U.S. operations and a current staple of militaries in South America and the Middle East.

The aircraft would be able to carry out airstrikes against the Islamic State and other militants for less money than the F-16 Fighting Falcon or the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Options available could include Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano propeller plane, which the United States has delivered to Afghanistan and other allies, and Beechcraft’s AT-6, a version of which the U.S. military already uses in pilot training.

Air Force generals have discussed the proposal several times in recent weeks, saying that the planes could supplement existing aircraft, including drones, in regions where there is no enemy capable of shooting down U.S. planes. Gen. David L. Goldfein, the service’s top officer, said the proposal is part of an ongoing dialogue that dates back years and could soon include an experiment in which private companies demonstrate what the planes can do.

“I’m not interested in something that requires a lot of research and development here,” Goldfein said during a recent appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I’m looking for something that I can get at right now, commercial, off the shelf, low-cost, that can operate in an uncontested environment, that can deliver the capabilities that we need, that can also be something that perhaps our allies and partners that are in this fight with us” use.

Goldfein added: “If you assume this fight will be going on for a little bit of time, there is room and time for us to get after this.”

The experiment will follow related efforts in Iraq and the United States. In the most recent, U.S. Central Command deployed two Vietnam-era, twin-engine OV-10G Broncos on loan from NASA to Iraq in 2015, flying them in missions against the Islamic State to assess how light-attack planes might help in the air war.

The experiment was described by Navy Capt. Andy Walton in an article last year in Proceedings Magazine, a publication of the U.S. Naval Institute. He detailed one mission over Iraq in an OV-10G in which he and a colleague observed militants for hours as they traveled down the Tigris River in canoes, and then fired on them with laser-guided rockets.

The use of the planes was the latest step in a program called Combat Dragon II, which dates back nearly a decade and involves Special Operations Command. Goldfein cited it recently, noting that some testing was carried out when he was the commander of Air Forces Central Command from August 2011 to July 2013. One of his bosses at the time was Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, now defense secretary, who supported the program as chief of U.S. Central Command.

The Air Force published a paper in 2008 that identified the need for a plane that could carry out both attacks and aerial observation. It called the plane “OA-X” and said continued reliance on other aircraft, ranging from the B-1 bomber to the F-16, at “rates that are much higher than planned and programmed” would wear them out.

The Air Force, the paper said, “faces a critical gap in its ability to conduct air support for extended periods in the Long War,” a reference to counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations worldwide. It recommended that the aircraft should have an armored protection for the crew and engine, missile warnings and countermeasures, among other features.

Air Force officials estimate that the cost of flying a propeller plane like the A-29 or AT-6 would be a few thousand dollars per hour. In comparison, it costs about $18,000 per hour to fly the A-10 attack jet. Other hourly costs are: $19,000 for the F-16; $24,000 for the F-15E; $42,000 for the F-35A; $44,000 for the AC-130J; $62,000 for the F-22A; $63,000 for the B-52; $77,000 for the B-1B; and $120,000 for the B-2, according to service statistics.

The light-attack effort has new momentum in part because one of its chief critics in Congress, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has shifted his opinion on the U.S. military experimenting with the aircraft. In 2011, he criticized research the Navy wanted to do for Combat Dragon as unnecessary because of the existence of the A-10, the slow-moving jet that has long carried out close-air support for U.S. troops in combat. At the time, light-attack planes were seen as a potential replacement for at least some A-10s, which McCain has long championed.

However, the service, which once said it would retire all 283 snub-nose “Warthogs” to save an estimated $4.2 billion, now plans to keep them because of their utility in the fight against the Islamic State. McCain said in a recent report titled “Restoring American Power” that the Air Force should not only keep its A-10s but also buy 300 “low-cost, light-attack fighters that would require minimal work to develop.” The planes could carry out counterterrorism operations, perform close-air support and help to season pilots as the Air Force addresses its pilot shortfall, the report said.

The shortfall has become an increasing problem as pilots leave the military at a rate that Goldfein and then-Air Force Secretary Deborah James declared a crisis last summer. Data released to The Washington Post showed there were about 723 fighter pilot vacancies in the service among 3,495 jobs, leaving 21 percent unfilled.

The Air Force has attributed the shortage to recruiting by the commercial airline industry; frequent deployments keeping pilots away from their families; and a reduction in stateside training amid budget constraints. It says it sees the new light-attack plane as an inexpensive way to get entry-level military pilots into planes as quickly as possible.

“When they end their commitment at the end of 10 years, we’re losing a lot of them to the airlines,” said an Air Force official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive personnel matter. “Just to keep up … you have to match that exit every year in the production and seasoning of pilots. You’ve got to have cockpits for those pilots to go to to get that experience and seasoning after you do initial training.”

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01/19/2016 - Afghan Air Force receives first four A-29s

Afghan Air Force receives first four A-29s

By Capt. Eydie Sakura, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing

KABUL, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- The U.S. Air Force delivered four A-29 Super Tucanos to the Afghan Air Force Jan. 15 at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan.

Eight combat-ready attack pilots and a handful of maintainers graduated Dec. 17, 2015, and have returned to Afghanistan after a year of training with the 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. The pilots are the first of 30 who will be trained by the 81st FS in the next three years.

The U.S. Air Force had no qualified A-29 pilots or maintainers prior to the start of the program, and stood up the 81st FS. These Airmen have been responsible for developing all the tactics and ways to instruct the students.

“The A-29 program has been an integral part of the U.S. government’s overall ‘Building Partnership Capacity’ efforts around the world and immediately supports the development of an indigenous air force in Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Craige, the commanding general at Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air.

“This rapidly developed program for Afghanistan is unique for the A-29 development because this is the first time (U.S. Air Force) pilots and maintainers have been trained as instructors to conduct training for Afghan students in the United States.”

The 81st FS instructors will be deployed to TAAC-Air where they’ll advise their counterparts on continued development of close air support, aerial escort, armed overwatch and aerial interdiction in the coming months.

Designed to operate in high temperatures and in extremely rugged terrain, the A-29 is highly maneuverable fourth-generation weapons system capable of delivering precision-guided munitions.

“It can fly at low speeds and low altitudes, is easy to fly, and provides exceptionally accurate weapons delivery,” Craige said. “It is currently in service with 10 different air forces around the world.”

The A-29 program was designed to help Afghan pilots gain an advantage by providing close air support to friendly forces engaged in combat on the ground. Training pilots on the A-29 in the U.S. provides them an opportunity to learn how to employ this weapon system and defend Afghanistan from insurgents, he said.

“This is a fighting aircraft which will destroy the centers of enemies in the country,” said Col. Bahadur, the Afghan Air Force public affairs officer, through an interpreter. “This aircraft has the ability of transferring weapons like rockets and machine guns. This fighting aircraft will provide security and combat support from the ground units in ground operation.”

Security cooperation provides a means for the Air Force to help international partners build airpower capabilities and fill operational needs, increase access, shorten response time and affect the strategic calculus of potential adversaries.

Through sustained security cooperation activities, the Air Force works to build a network of global partners who have the capacity and capabilities to respond to contingencies effectively and efficiently.

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12/21/2015 - First A-29 Afghan pilots graduate, ready for combat

First A-29 Afghan pilots graduate, ready for combat

By Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley, 23rd Wing Public Affairs

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) -- A new era for the Afghan air force began Dec. 18, when the 81st Fighter Squadron graduated the first class of A-29 Super Tucano combat-ready attack pilots at Moody Air Force Base.

"The extraordinary dedication of these pilots and the sacrifices these graduates have made will help establish a secure, stable and unified country," said Col. John Nichols, the 14th Flying Training Wing commander. "They are enabling the future of Afghanistan, a future that will be decided by the Afghans themselves."

Even though the 81st FS was reactivated in January 2015, the students began their classroom training in February and launched on their first A-29 training sorties in March.

"I stood on this stage 11 months ago to reactivate this perilous squadron," Nichols said. "We had three planes, a handful of motivated Airmen and no students. Now less than a year later, we are graduating our first class."

According to Nichols, this graduation is the first step in fulfilling the requirement from the International Security Assistance Force to conduct training outside of Afghanistan. These pilots are the first of 30 who will be trained by the 81st FS over the next three years.

"We are here this morning to graduate eight Afghan patriots who will execute a vitally important mission," Nichols added. "That mission, simply stated, is to help build the future of Afghanistan. This graduation marks the first step in this monumental undertaking."

After about 337 training days, the pilots are ready just in time as the Afghan air force's current light air support aircraft, the Mi-35 attack helicopter, reaches the end of its service life in January 2016.

"I'm just so proud of the Afghan pilots and even prouder of the instructors who were able to make them fighter pilots in less than a year," said Maj. Gen. James Hecker, the 19th Air Force commander. "(Pilot training takes) two to three years depending on which aircraft they are going to but they had to push it up because they need to get over there and get in the fight.

"When they get back there, we know that there is an ongoing fight that is mainly U.S. led, as far as in the air," Hecker added. "Now they are going to be up in the air with us helping their Afghan soldiers who are on the ground."

Although the graduation marks the end of the Afghan students' training journey, the mission will continue through advisory support in Afghanistan.

"Today does not mark the end, but the beginning of our continued friendship between the 81st Fighter Squadron and the 355th Fighter Squadron," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hogan, the 81st FS commander. "Please know that we are shoulder to shoulder with you and we look forward to many years of working together. Soon we will be flying together over the skies of your homeland. Shortly thereafter, you will be in combat defending your nation but most importantly, you will defend that soldier or commando on the ground."

As the ceremony came to a close, Nichols left the graduates with a few parting words.

"To those charged with securing the skies over Afghanistan, I congratulate you," Nichols said. "You have honored your country through your selfless actions, you have honored your families through your perseverance and the future of both will be better because of your dedication.

"You will now have a powerful vote in the governance of your country through the air arm of Afghanistan's defense forces," Nichols added. "We all want to improve the world for our family, our children, and our grandchildren ... it is clear to me that you are no different."

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09/25/2014 - Sierra Nevada Corporation & Embraer Roll-Out First U.S. Built A-29 Super Tucano for USAF Light Air Support (LAS) Program

Sierra Nevada Corporation & Embraer Roll-Out First U.S. Built A-29 Super Tucano for USAF Light Air Support (LAS) Program

First A-29 Super Tucano delivered at Roll-Out Ceremony
First A-29 Super Tucano delivered at Roll-Out Ceremony

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Sept. 25, 2014) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Embraer Defense & Security today presented the first United States-built A-29 Super Tucano light air support aircraft in a rollout ceremony with the U.S. Air Force and government officials, industry and community representatives, and news media. The aircraft, which also performs as an outstanding advanced trainer, is the first of 20 that are being delivered to the U.S. Air Force for its Light Air Support (LAS) program to support the stability of Afghanistan as it assumes increased responsibility for security with the redeployment of NATO forces.

“The Light Air Support program is critical to the U.S. objectives in Afghanistan and to our national security. SNC, as the prime contractor, is proudly serving our country through its strategic partnership with Embraer by providing a superior aircraft, exceptional training and expert support and maintenance for this U.S. Air Force program,” said SNC’s Chief Executive Officer Fatih Ozmen. “We look forward to continuing to deliver on time and on budget this important capability for Afghanistan now and into the future to ensure both the successful withdrawal of U.S. troops and the safety and security of the entire region.”

“The Super Tucano is a robust and powerful turboprop aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of missions and, in more than ten years of operations, it has confirmed to be a costeffective airpower solution for nations around the world,” said President and CEO Embraer Defense & Security Jackson Schneider. “These characteristics, along with its well-proven combat record, make it highly reliable and the logical choice for the LAS mission.”

“This first aircraft delivery is a significant milestone for the A-29 program,” said U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Eric Fick. “This delivery represents the birth of an important capability for Afghanistan, and we are very pleased Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer were able to deliver the aircraft on time to meet the start of Air Advisor Training at Moody Air Force Base.”

“Jacksonville has long been known as a military aviation center of excellence, a reputation that takes center stage once again with the roll out of the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft,” said Congressman Ander Crenshaw, member of the U.S. House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “Built by a highly-skilled and expert team, this aircraft is vital to securing Afghanistan and that region of the world. We can all be proud of the work behind the assembly of the Super Tucano – work that supports our national security at home and around the globe and helps keep our local and regional economy strong.”

On Feb. 27, 2013 the U.S. Air Force awarded the LAS contract to SNC to supply 20 Embraer A- 29 Super Tucano aircraft as well as ground training devices, pilot and maintenance training and logistic support. The aircraft will be used to provide light air support, reconnaissance and training capabilities to the Afghanistan military. In March 2013, Embraer officially opened a 40,000-square-foot facility in Jacksonville, Florida, to produce the LAS aircraft and to date has hired 72 employees. The facility in Jacksonville performs pre-equipping, mechanical assembly, structural assembly, systems installation and testing, and flight testing of A-29 aircraft. Through the LAS program, SNC and Embraer support more than 1,400 jobs with more than 100 companies throughout the United States.

The Super Tucano is a light air support turboprop aircraft with advanced training capabilities currently used by nine air forces in Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America. After more than ten years in action, the Super Tucano has gained an excellent performance record: over 230,000 flight hours and 31,000 combat hours. Embraer has received more than 210 firm orders and has delivered more than 170 aircraft. For more information, visit www.BuiltForTheMission.com.

About Sierra Nevada Corporation

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), headquartered in Sparks, Nevada, is one of America’s fastest growing private companies and among the “World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Space.” Under the leadership of CEO Fatih Ozmen and President Eren Ozmen, SNC has a workforce of over 3,000 personnel in 31 locations in 17 states. SNC’s six unique business areas are dedicated to providing leading-edge technology solutions to SNC’s customers. For more information on SNC visit www.sncorp.com and follow us at Facebook/Sierra Nevada Corporation. Sierra Nevada Corporation and SNC are trademarks of Sierra Nevada Corporation.

About Embraer S.A.

Embraer S.A. (NYSE: ERJ; BM&FBOVESPA: EMBR3) is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial jets up to 130 seats, and one of Brazil’s leading exporters. Embraer’s headquarters are located in São José dos Campos, São Paulo, and it has offices, industrial operations and customer service facilities in Brazil, China, France, Portugal, Singapore, and the U.S. Founded in 1969, the Company designs, develops, manufactures and sells aircraft and systems for the commercial aviation, executive aviation, and defense and security segments. It also provides after sales support and services to customers worldwide. For more information, please visit www.embraer.com.br.

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12/06/2013 - A-29 Super Tucano and T-27 Tucano Celebrate Milestone in the Brazilian Air Force

A-29 Super Tucano and T-27 Tucano Celebrate Milestone in the Brazilian Air Force

São Paulo, SP, December 6, 2013 - The A-29 Super Tucano, a single-engine turboprop light attack, advanced training aircraft, this month celebrated 10 years of operations for the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). The aircraft, which was recently selected by the United States Air Force (USAF) for the Light Air Support program (LAS), has surpassed 200,000 flight hours. The aircraft is currently in operation in nine Air Forces in Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Also this year, the A-29 Super Tucano was chosen as the new FAB’s EDA aircraft (Air Demonstration Squadron, better known as "Smoke Squadron"), replacing the venerable T-27 Tucano trainer.

The T-27 Tucano is used in the training of Air Force Academy (AFA) pilots and has been in operations in FAB for 30 years. To celebrate this milestone, one of AFA’s aircraft received a special livery that will be presented to the public for the first time at the aspiring-officers graduation ceremony taking place today (6/12), at the AFA headquarters in Pirassununga (SP).

About A-29 Super Tucano

The A-29 Super Tucano is the result of a project developed according to the rigorous specifications of the Brazilian Air Force. With more than 210 orders and more than 170 delivered airplanes, it is fully compatible with combat operations in complex scenarios. With its reinforced airframe for unpaved runways, the aircraft has advanced navigation and weapon aiming systems, which assure high precision and reliability, using both conventional and smart weapons, even under extreme conditions. The aircraft requires minimal logistical support for continued operations. The A-29 Super Tucano is in operation with nine Air Forces, successfully performing advanced training, border surveillance, light attack and counter-insurgency missions.

About T-27 Tucano

A single-engine low-wing turboprop, the T-27 Tucano is equipped with a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25C 750 shp engine, with gut propeller and retractable landing gear. It was the first basic turboprop trainer to use tandem configured (one behind the other) ejection seats. Other design innovations were used, such as the advanced cockpit with instruments displayed similarly to those featured in modern jet fighters and the combined engine power and fuel opening and closing controls as well as the single lever propeller operator, making pilot control similar to that of a jet. The first production aircraft were delivered on 29 September 1983. In total, 630 units were produced for the air forces of 14 countries. Follow us on Twitter: @EmbraerSA

Note to Editors

Embraer S.A. (NYSE: ERJ; BM&FBOVESPA: EMBR3) is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial jets up to 130 seats, and one of Brazil’s leading exporters. Embraer’s headquarters are located in São José dos Campos, São Paulo, and it has offices, industrial operations and customer service facilities in Brazil, China, France, Portugal, Singapore, and the U.S. Founded in 1969, the Company designs, develops, manufactures and sells aircraft and systems for the commercial aviation, executive aviation, and defense and security segments. It also provides after sales support and services to customers worldwide. For more information, please visit www.embraer.com.br.

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09/16/2013 - Embraer on Schedule with Jacksonville A-29 Super Tucano Assembly Facility

Embraer on Schedule with Jacksonville A-29 Super Tucano Assembly Facility

Washington, D.C., September 16, 2013 – Embraer Defense & Security Inc. announced, today, at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition that the company is on schedule with its Jacksonville, Florida, assembly facility to begin deliveries in mid-2014 of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to the U.S. Air Force for the Light Air Support (LAS) program. 

There have been several developments since the contract award was announced on February 27, 2013.

  • On March 26, a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the presence of government officials and local leaders including Florida Governor Rick Scott, Congressman Ander Crenshaw, and Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown marked the opening of the 40,000-square-foot assembly hangar located at Jacksonville International Airport. 
  • Shortly thereafter, Daniel W. Culleton, Jr., a seasoned professional with extensive experience in aircraft production and delivery of complex integrated structures for the aerospace and marine industries, joined the company as General Manager. Culleton’s experience includes more than 30 years working for Northrop Grumman Corporation and its predecessor, Grumman Corporation, in a variety of operational, production and management positions. He will oversee all operations at the Jacksonville facility. 
  • More recently, another seasoned executive, David J. Hall, joined the company as Director of Contracts. Hall brings extensive industry experience with ITT, Rockwell Collins, Thales, and Textron, among other companies. 
  • Hiring has commenced at an accelerated pace from the local Jacksonville community where, as of today, 40 critical positions have been filled for areas encompassing Production Engineering, Quality Engineering, Logistics, and A&P technicians.

According to Culleton, “This facility will perform pre-equipping, mechanical assembly, structural assembly, systems installation and testing, and flight testing of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft. It is the latest in a series of recent expansions by Embraer in Florida and the first for Defense & Security.”

In 2011, Embraer opened a production facility for its Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 executive jets and a Global Customer Center in Melbourne, Florida, and in 2012, the company broke ground for a new Engineering and Technology Center, also in Melbourne, that will employ 200 engineers. 

“As the aircraft selected for the LAS program, the A-29 Super Tucano will be used to provide light air support, reconnaissance and training capabilities to the Afghanistan military,” said William Buckey, Vice President, Business Development, Embraer Defense & Security. “This award also opens the door to additional orders from other nations under the Building Partnership Capacity program,” he added. 

On February 27, 2013 the U.S. Air Force awarded the LAS contract to Sierra Nevada Corporation to supply 20 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, as well as ground-based training devices, pilot and maintenance training, and logistical support. 

Embraer currently employs over 1,300 people across the United States.  More than 100 U.S. companies will supply parts and services for the A-29 Super Tucano.  Some 1,400 U.S. jobs will be supported by the LAS contract.

Learn more about the A-29 Super Tucano at www.BuiltForTheMission.com. 

Follow us on Twitter: @EmbraerSA

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06/13/2013 - Joint Statement Of Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer For June 13, 2013 that the GAO Validates U.S. Air Force Selection

JOINT STATEMENT OF SIERRA NEVADA CORPORATION AND EMBRAER FOR JUNE 13, 2013 THAT THE GAO VALIDATES U.S. AIR FORCE SELECTION

Sparks, Nev., June 13, 2013 - - The General Accountability Office (GAO) today denied Beechcraft Corporation’s protest of the U.S. Air Force contract award to Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and partner Embraer Defense & Security for the Air Force’s Light Air Support (LAS) program.  

The LAS program is an integral part of the U.S. government’s overall Building Partnership Capacity efforts around the world and immediately supports the development of an indigenous air force in Afghanistan. The program is a vital element of the U.S. Afghan strategy and essential to the United States’ timely and successful withdrawal from the region.   

Under the contract awarded Feb. 27, 2013, SNC is supplying 20 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft that will be built in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as ground-based training equipment, pilot and maintenance training, and logistical support.  Delivery of the initial aircraft is scheduled to occur in mid-2014, which allows time for the necessary training before the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

“Today’s decision is a win for the American warfighters and our allies in Afghanistan who urgently need this light air support capacity to fulfill our mission there,” said Taco Gilbert, vice president of Integrated Tactical Solutions for SNC’s Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance business area. “It is also a victory for the American workers who are producing this aircraft.  SNC, Embraer and our partners across the United States hit the ground running February 27th, and we will deliver the most operationally capable aircraft on time and at the greatest value to the American public.”  

More than 100 U.S. companies in over 20 states, including Elbit Systems, Honeywell International, FLIR Systems, Inc., GE Aviation, L-3 Communications, BAE Systems, Hartzell, PPG Aerospace, Rockwell Collins and Lord Corporation, are part of the supply chain already working to build the A-29 Super Tucano.  In all, the contract supports more than 1,400 jobs across the United States.  “Moreover, this American production operation will continue to produce the A-29 aircraft for other nations as part of the Building Partnership Capacity efforts of the United States, supporting the continued employment of highly talented American workers”, said Gilbert.

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04/19/2013 - Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer Joint Statement for April 19, 2013 Federal Court of Claims Hearing Ruling in Favor of USAF

Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer Joint Statement for April 19, 2013 Federal Court of Claims Hearing Ruling in favor of USAF 

Statement by Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer Defense and Security on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims decision to deny a request from Beechcraft for a temporary injunction, allowing the U.S. Air Force to override a procedural stop-work order on its Light Air Support contract:

SPARKS, Nev., April 19, 2013 - - Today’s decision ensures that work will continue uninterrupted on the LAS contract and that we will be able to deliver these aircraft in mid-2014. Delivering the LAS aircraft on schedule is essential to the United States’ Building Partnership Capacity in Afghanistan, as it allows our troops to wind down U.S. involvement there, while helping to ensure the Afghans will be able to maintain security in the region.

Today’s decision also allows the process to continue of standing up the U.S. production facility for the A-29 Super Tucano in Jacksonville, Fla., hiring American workers to support that effort, and contracting with U.S. suppliers for parts and services for the LAS contract. More than 100 U.S. companies, including Elbit Systems, Honeywell International, FLIR Systems, Inc., PPG Aerospace, Rockwell Collins and Lord Corporation, are part of the supply chain already working to build the A-29 Super Tucano. In all, the contract supports more than 1,400 jobs across the United States.

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03/26/2013 - Embraer, State and Local Officials Gather for Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for Super Tucano Assembly Facility

Embraer, State and Local Officials Gather for Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for Super Tucano Assembly Facility

Jacksonville, Florida, March 26, 2013 – Embraer President and CEO Frederico Curado, joined by Florida Governor Rick Scott, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and Representatives Corrine Brown and Ander Crenshaw, today marked the opening of the facility where the company will assemble the aircraft for the U.S. Air Force’s Light Air Support (LAS) program. More than 200 local business people, public officials and news media attended the ribboncutting ceremony at the 40,000-square-foot hangar at Jacksonville International Airport.

Through the LAS program, Embraer and its prime contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation will support more than 1,400 jobs with over 100 companies throughout the United States.

“Today, we mark another achievement in Embraer’s growing presence in the United States and the State of Florida, not only with our expansion in Jacksonville, but also with our first participation in a contract to supply high tech equipment and services to the USAF. We are honored by this opportunity and ready to get to work,” said Frederico Curado, Embraer S.A. President and CEO.

Embraer, with its U.S. headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, currently employs more than 1,200 people in the United States. The Jacksonville site joins recent expansion of the company’s operations in Melbourne, Florida where, in 2011, it opened a production facility and Global Customer Center for its Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 executive jets. In 2012, the company broke ground in Melbourne for a new Engineering and Technology Center that will employ 200 engineers.

“With this manufacturing facility, Embraer will create 50 new jobs for Jacksonville families, which is great news. Thanks to our business friendly strategy of keeping taxes low, making targeted investments and supporting education, these 50 new jobs will build on the more than 280,000 private sector jobs that have been created in the last two years,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott.

“Jacksonville’s exceptionally talented workforce will be assembling the world’s most capable light air support aircraft with parts from suppliers across the United States. In terms of a ‘winwin’ it doesn’t get better than this,” said Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), who represents Florida’s 4th congressional district.

“At a time when many companies are outsourcing, Embraer is insourcing and creating highquality jobs right here in Northeast Florida; I commend them for this action,” said Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL), who represents Florida’s 5th congressional district. With the support of the State of Florida, the City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Airport Authority, efforts already have begun to prepare the facility for industrial operations.

“Embraer’s success in Jacksonville speaks volumes about the direction of our economy and our city’s role as one of America’s most military-friendly cities,” said Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. “This project promotes economic security at home and global security for all. I’m proud of the teamwork that helped to make it happen and I look forward to working with Embraer for many years to come.”

“I know many of the leaders at Embraer, and they have created an outstanding global aviation company in both the commercial and military business sectors,” said JAX Chamber interim president and CEO and JAXUSA Partnership president Jerry Mallot. “I am excited to be here today to celebrate the opening of an Embraer facility in Jacksonville and the creation of new jobs for our region.”

On Febuary 27, the U.S. Air Force awarded the LAS contract to Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to supply 20 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, as well as ground-based training devices, pilot and maintenance training, and logistical support. The initial 20 aircraft will be used to provide light air support, reconnaissance and training capabilities to the Afghanistan military. The facility in Jacksonville will perform pre-equipping, mechanical assembly, structural assembly, systems installation and testing, and flight testing of A-29 aircraft.

Delivery of the first American-made A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is scheduled to take place next summer. For more information about the Super Tucano, please visit: www.BuiltForTheMission.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @EmbraerSA

Note to Editors

Embraer S.A. (NYSE: ERJ; BM&FBOVESPA: EMBR3) is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial jets up to 120 seats, and one of Brazil’s leading exporters. Embraer’s headquarters are located in São José dos Campos, São Paulo, and it has offices, industrial operations and customer service facilities in Brazil, China, France, Portugal, Singapore, and the U.S. Founded in 1969, the Company designs, develops, manufactures and sells aircraft and systems for the commercial aviation, executive aviation, and defense and security segments. It also provides after sales support and services to customers worldwide. For more information, please visit www.embraer.com.br.

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03/15/2013 - Embraer Signs Jacksonville Airport Lease for A-29 Super Tucano Assembly Facility

Embraer Signs Jacksonville Airport Lease for A-29 Super Tucano Assembly Facility

Florida, March 15, 2013 – Embraer Aircraft Holding, Inc. announced today it has signed a 10-year lease on a 40,000-square-foot hangar in which the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft for the U.S. Air Force Light Air Support (LAS) program will be assembled. Preparation of the facility is currently underway. The LAS aircraft are urgently needed to support the successful withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown welcomed Embraer to the city. “I'm excited for this economic milestone as Embraer's A-29 production facility becomes Jacksonville's first fullscale aircraft assembly operation,” said Mayor Brown. “Not only does this show confidence in our workforce, it expands Jacksonville's role as one of America's most military and veteran-friendly cities. I commend Embraer for embracing these values and I look forward to a long, productive relationship.”

“We have been looking forward to the day that we can officially establish our presence in Jacksonville and we are ready to get to work,” said Gary Spulak, President of Embraer Aircraft Holding, Inc. “This important step is the first of many that will solidify the new partnership we have created between Embraer and the Jacksonville community.”

With the support of the state of Florida, the City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, the facility at the Jacksonville International Airport already is undergoing modifications. The facility will perform pre-equipping, mechanical assembly, structural assembly, systems installation and testing, and flight testing of A-29 aircraft.

“A great team came together to make a solid case for building this plane in Northeast Florida, resulting in a 'win - win' for the First Coast economy and our national defense,” said Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), who represents Florida’s 4th congressional district. “The addition of this facility underscores Jacksonville as a military aviation center of excellence.”

“We are proud to host production of this important aircraft,” said Steve Grossman, executive director of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority. “This brings economic investment and good jobs to the area.”

“This is a wonderful example of insourcing and exactly what our region and our nation need more of. This facility will create high-wage jobs and represents millions in economic investment. Production of the aircraft will draw upon U.S. suppliers from across the country, supporting many more American jobs,” said Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL), who represents Florida’s 5th congressional district.

Embraer has had its U.S. headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale for more than 30 years and currently employs more than 1,200 people in the United States. The Jacksonville site joins recent expansion of the company’s operations in Florida. In 2011, Embraer opened a production facility for its Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 jets and a Global Customer Center in Melbourne, and in 2012, the company broke ground on a new Engineering and Technology Center, also in Melbourne, that will employ 200 engineers. Some 1,400 additional jobs will be supported through the LAS contract.

As the aircraft selected for the LAS program, the A-29 Super Tucano will be used to provide light air support, reconnaissance and training capabilities to the Afghanistan military. As such, it is a vital element of the United States’ Afghan withdrawal strategy and central to maintaining security in that region going forward. The LAS program also will provide the United States and other partner nations with important capabilities for agile, flexible, economical, new-generation multi-role airpower. Learn more about the A-29 Super Tucano at www.BuiltForTheMission.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @EmbraerSA

Note to Editors

Embraer S.A. (NYSE: ERJ; BM&FBOVESPA: EMBR3) is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial jets up to 120 seats, and one of Brazil’s leading exporters. Embraer’s headquarters are located in São José dos Campos, São Paulo, and it has offices, industrial operations and customer service facilities in Brazil, China, France, Portugal, Singapore, and the U.S. Founded in 1969, the Company designs, develops, manufactures and sells aircraft and systems for the commercial aviation, executive aviation, and defense and security segments. It also provides after sales support and services to customers worldwide. For more information, please visit www.embraer.com.br.

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03/08/2013 - Joint Statement of Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer Defense and Security on Decision of Beechcraft Corporation to Protest LAS Contract Award

Joint Statement of Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer Defense and Security on Decision of Beechcraft Corporation to Protest LAS Contract Award

March 8, 2013 -- The United States Air Force for a second time has selected the A-29 for the Light Air Support (LAS) mission. In announcing the award, the Air Force stated “this award is the result of a full and open competition” and Lt. Gen. C.R. Davis, military deputy for acquisition in Air Force headquarters said, "I am confident that the source selection process was disciplined and meticulous." Even Beechcraft’s CEO commented on the care and professionalism of the USAF’s selection process. In fact, this was a completely new evaluation process, conducted by a new team and overseen by a three-star general.

In evaluating the competitors, the U.S. Air Force looked at three criteria, in priority order: mission capability, past performance and pricing in order to determine overall best value.

The A-29 received an exceptional rating on technical capability and low-risk in all other categories. Only the A-29 Super Tucano is operational and performing light air support missions today. Its capabilities and long track record are fully known and demonstrated. The past performances of SNC and Embraer are equally strong and proven. Based on these factors we are confident the Air Force selected the A-29 as the lowest risk solution for the U.S. and its partner nations and overall best value.

In accordance with the RFP, the U.S. Air Force selected the A-29 based on three factors stated above, not just a single factor. The Air Force determined that the price they are paying for the superior A-29 aircraft was part of the “overall best value.” We look forward to another rapid Government Accounting Office decision on Beechcraft’s protest.

An important aspect about our approach is the "in-sourcing" of jobs to Jacksonville, Florida. We feel it establishes an exciting future model of bringing high tech aerospace manufacturing jobs back to the United States to stem the recent tide of moving jobs offshore. The A-29 aircraft for the LAS program will be built in Jacksonville, Fla. The SNC award will support more than 1,400 American jobs, reflecting both the large U.S. supplier base – more than 100 companies will supply parts and services for the A-29 Super Tucano – and new jobs that will be created by SNC and Embraer. Embraer will create new high-tech jobs at its production facility in Jacksonville, adding to the 1,200 people Embraer currently employs in the United States, and new jobs at SNC will add to its U.S. workforce of 2,500 people.

The A-29 Super Tucano is the right choice for the mission, the warfighter, the U.S. taxpayer, the American workers and our partner nations. Given the strength of our proposal and the thoroughness of the U.S. Air Force’s evaluation process, it is unfortunate that Beechcraft is now protesting the Light Air Support (LAS) contract award once again.

The need for this aircraft was critical a year ago and more so today. SNC and Embraer are moving forward and preparing to begin operations in Jacksonville.

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02/27/2013 - U.S. Air Force Selects A-29 Super Tucano for Light Air Support Mission

U.S. AIR FORCE SELECTS A-29 SUPER TUCANO
FOR LIGHT AIR SUPPORT MISSION

SPARKS, Nev., Feb. 27, 2013 – Eren Ozmen, president of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced today that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has selected SNC and its partner Embraer Defense and Security for its Light Air Support (LAS) program.  After a thorough rebidding process, the USAF again deemed the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, and the overall solution offered by SNC, to be the superior choice for this critical mission. The initial $427.5 million delivery order is to supply the USAF with 20 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft.

As the aircraft selected for the LAS program, the A-29 Super Tucano will be used to provide light air support, reconnaissance and training capabilities to the Afghanistan military. As such, it is a vital element of the United States’ Afghan withdrawal strategy and central to maintaining security in that region going forward. The LAS program also will provide the United States and other partner nations with important capabilities for agile, flexible, economical, new-generation multi-role airpower.  

“The Light Air Support program is essential to the United States’ objectives in Afghanistan and to our national security. It is a great honor to serve our country by providing the aircraft, training and support for this program,” said Taco Gilbert, vice president of Integrated Tactical Solutions for SNC’s Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance business area. “The A-29 Super Tucano with its proven track record is exactly what’s needed for the LAS program where the mission is critical and time is short. We will deliver a superior product, on-time and on-budget.” 

“We are glad to provide the U.S. government with the best aircraft for the LAS program and to aid American warfighters and partners with a cost-effective solution,” said Gary Spulak, president of Embraer Aircraft Holding, Inc. “Through this contract with SNC, we will increase our investment in the United States by creating new jobs and supporting American businesses.”

“Congratulations to the Sierra Nevada Corporation and its partner Embraer Defense and Security for being selected by the U.S. Air Force for its Light Air Support program.  The program will be built in Jacksonville and bring valuable jobs to Northeast Florida families,” Florida Governor Rick Scott.

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Contract Announcement

U.S. Department of Defense
February 27, 2013

Sierra Nevada Corp., Sparks, Nev., has been awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (FA8637 13 D 6003) to provide both an advanced aircrew trainer and a light air support aircraft to establish air combat capability for allied countries under the Building Partnership Capacity program.  Delivery Order 0001 was awarded for $427,459,708 for 20 Light Air Support Aircraft, one computer based trainer, one basic aviation training device, one flight training device, six mission planning stations, six mission debrief systems, long lead spares for interim contractor support, outside the continental United States base activation, site surveys, flight certification to U.S. Air Force military type certification standards, and data.  The location of performance for Delivery Order 0001 effort is Sparks, Nev., and Jacksonville, Fla.  The maximum amount that can be ordered under this contract is $950,000,000.  The contract period of performance goes through Feb. 26, 2019 and Delivery Order 0001 work is expected to be complete by April 2015.  This award is the result of a full and open competition, and two offers were received.  Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity. Read More.

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01/31/2013 - Embraer Defense and Security Delivers the First Three A-29 Super Tucano to the National Air Force of Angola

Embraer Defense and Security Delivers the First Three A-29 Super Tucano to the National Air Force of Angola

São Paulo, January 31st, 2013 – Embraer Defense and Security delivered today the first three light attack and advanced training A-29 Super Tucano turboprops to the National Air Force of Angola, at a ceremony held in its facility in Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo, Brazil, as part of an total order for six aircraft. Upon this delivery Angola becomes the third operator of the Super Tucano in the African continent. The airplane will be used for border surveillance missions.

“The selection of the Super Tucano by the National Air Force of Angola demonstrates the great potential of this aircraft in Africa,” said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President of Embraer Defense and Security. “It is a robust, versatile and very efficient combat-proven aircraft with low operating costs and has generated great interest among other African nations.”

Ten clients around the world has already been chosen the A-29 Super Tucano which is being currently used by nine air forces in Latin America, Africa and Asia. More than 160 aircraft are already in operation and, so far, this international fleet has logged more than 170,000 flight hours and 26,000 combat hours. The A-29 Super Tucano is able to carry out a wide range of missions, including light attack, surveillance, air-to-air interception, and counterinsurgency. The aircraft is equipped with advanced electronic, electro-optic, infrared, and laser system technologies, as well as secure radio systems with data links and unrivalled weapon capacity, which makes it highly reliable and allows for an excellent cost-benefit ratio for a wide range of military missions, even operating from unpaved runways and in hostile environments.

The A-29 Super Tucano handles more than 130 weapon configurations, including 70mm rocket launchers, air-to-air missiles and laser-guided bombs totally integrated into the aircraft’s mission system, with a laser designator. These state-of-the-art smart weapons are employed in real operational missions carried out by the Super Tucano for more than five years. The A-29 Super Tucano is the result of a project developed according to the rigorous specifications of the Brazilian Air Force. It is totally compatible with combat operations in complex scenarios, in which data exchange and information processing capabilities are demanded. In addition to a reinforced airframe for operating on unpaved runways, the airplane has advanced navigation and weapon aiming systems, which assure high precision and reliability, using both conventional and smart weapons, even under extreme conditions. The aircraft requires minimal logistical support for continued operations.

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