Weapon Wednesday – New Close-Air Support Plane

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The OA-X aircraft will provide U.S. troops with close air support over distant battlefields.

 Over the deserts of New Mexico, the U.S. Air Force is kicking the tires on four light aircraft, one of which will almost certainly end up being the service’s next light attack aircraft. The Textron Scorpion, Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine, Sierra Nevada A-29, and Air Tractor AT-802U are all being tested at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico in simulated missions from convoy escort to supporting friendly ground troops in contact.

The program, known as the Light Attack Experiment, is basically a fly-off between the four planes to determine which best fits the Air Force’s requirements. The Air Force wants an observation and attack (OA-X) plane that can fly over battlefields with minimal air defense threats (think of the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan or Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq) and not only provide firepower on demand to ground forces, but also scout ahead and gather intelligence on enemy forces.The aircraft would not be suitable for fighting countries like Russia and China that deploy advanced, fully modern air defense systems.

Textron Scorpion conducting handling and flying quality maneuvers above White Sands Missile Range.

Basically, USAF wants a manned aircraft that can act as both a weapon and sensor platform, and is inexpensive to boot. Previously, the Air Force has used everything from A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jets to B-1B bombers in the close air support role. These aircraft are often an overmatch for chasing guerrillas, and they’re also extremely expensive to fly: a B-1B costs $61,000 an hour to fly, while the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, which the Air Force has designated the A-10’s successor, costs $42,000 an hour.

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About the Common Constitutionalist

Brent, aka The Common Constitutionalist, is a Constitutional Conservative, and advocates for first principles, founders original intent and enemy of progressives. He is former Navy, Martial Arts expert. As well as publisher of the Common Constitutionalist blog, he also is a contributing writer for Political Outcast, Godfather Politics, Minute Men News (Liberty Alliance), Freedom Outpost, the Daily Caller, Vision To America and Free Republic. He also writes an exclusive weekly column for World Net Daily (WND).

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