FlightGlobal has reported that Saudi Arabia is considering purchasing the Textron AirLand Scorpion light attack aircraft. The recent major arms deal between the US and Saudi Arabia includes a $2bn segment for close air support aircraft. Textron’s Scott Donnelly, speaking on a second-quarter results call, said that talks with Saudi Arabia were in ‘formative stages.’
The news comes as the US Air Force prepares to run its ‘light attack’ experiment at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, in August.
The OA-X assessment is not an air force acquisition program, it’s an evaluation aimed at exploring the capabilities and characteristics required for undertaking close air support (CAS), light attack and armed reconnaissance missions from austere locations in permissive and semi-permissive environments.
The OA-X assessment may eventually lead to a US Air Force decision to proceed with an actual purchase of a light attack aircraft, with a ‘program of record’ and an eventual tender for a light attack aircraft, though this is far from certain. Lt Gen Arnold Bunch, the USAF’s acquisition deputy, has said that the OA-X assessment at Holloman could lead to another experiment, a combat demonstration, or even an immediate acquisition program.
A full report on OA-X appears in the forthcoming September issue of Combat Aircraft, out next week.