Light Attack For Lower Cost: Off-the-Shelf Aircraft Demos Could Shake Up Acquisition Process by Vivienne Machi - National Defense Magazine
A $6 million Air Force experiment to demonstrate the capabilities of off-the-shelf platforms may lead to a low-cost solution for a light attack and close-air support aircraft.
On a broiling August day, three turboprops and one jet were on static display just outside Hangar 1090 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. As top service brass, international partners and local lawmakers looked on, Air Force weapon loaders demonstrated reloading an A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft and an AT-6 Wolverine multi-role plane with weapons including precision guided munitions, unguided rockets and practice bombs.
Minutes before, the AT-6 had taxied into the hangar after undergoing several evaluations, coming to a stop before one of the pilots — Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein — removed his helmet and stepped out of the cockpit.
The demonstration was part of a month-long experiment of eight mission demonstrations run by the Air Force and three teams of defense companies that seek to explore the feasibility of purchasing a commercial multi-role attack aircraft for use in permissive environments. Air Force pilots and engineers evaluated four airplanes in tests on the ground and in the air across Holloman ranges and the nearby White Sands Missile Range, collecting mounds of data before determining any concrete requirements…