Air Tractor and L3 have announced that their AT-802L Longsword light attack and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft will join the US Air Force’s OA-X light attack aircraft experiment at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, next week.
The Longsword joins the Textron AirLand Scorpion, the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine and the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano in the USAF’s study.
Jim Gibson, president of L3 Platform Integration and the L3 Aircraft Systems sector said: ‘The AT-802L Longsword provides a highly effective capability based on a rugged, proven platform that adds class-leading technologies integrated by L3 for a simple, yet powerful solution.’
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 this Thursday.