A partial replacement for the A-10 Warthog has reached a key milestone, with lawmakers backing a $400 million investment in the program. The OA-X program, designed to procure a light attack/observation aircraft, could see up to 300 aircraft purchased by the U.S. Air Force to take over aerial warfare in low-intensity conflicts.
The Air Force took one step closer to fielding a fleet of up to 300 light attack aircraft. Funding for the OA-X, or Observation, Attack, Experimental aircraft was included by Congress in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, other
wise known as the 2018 Defense Budget.
OA-X is an attempt to develop a low cost weapon and sensor platform for close air support duties. The Air Force expects to use the aircraft over conflicts that don’t involved high tech adversaries like Russia or China, where the biggest threat is a light anti-aircraft cannon or a shoulder-fired surface to air missile. OA-X could have supported U.S. forces against the insurgency in Iraq, or today’s conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, and the Philippines.
This summer, four candidates for the program, the Textron Scorpion, Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine, Embraer/Sierra Nevada Super Tucano A-29, and Air Tractor AT-802U were all tested at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico in a variety of simulated missions from convoy escort to supporting friendly ground troops in contact. Earlier this fall the Air Force proposed sending two of the aircraft, the Wolverine and Super Tucano to fly real missions in a conflict zone.