Does the A-29 have experience on the battlefield?
Yes. The A-29 was selected by 13 air forces worldwide and is the only light air support (LAS) aircraft in the world with a U.S. Military Type Certificate. The A-29 has more than 360,000 flight hours and more than 46,000 combat hours.The A-29 is a durable, versatile and powerful turboprop aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of fighter and ISR missions. With more than 150 certified load configurations, it is equipped with advanced electronic, electro-optic, infrared and laser system technologies, as well as secure radio systems with data links and unrivaled munitions capacity.
Is the A-29 Super Tucano made in the USA?
Yes. Working together with our partner, Embraer Defense and Security, the A-29 is made in Jacksonville, Florida. Sierra Nevada Corporation is based in Sparks, Nevada and has locations in 19 U.S. states. Embraer has had a U.S. presence for nearly 40 years and employs more than 2,000 people in 12 facilities throughout the U.S., including 1,000 employees in Florida.
Does training in the A-29 really prepare pilots for flight in a 4th or 5th generation fighter?
Yes. As a training aircraft, the built-for-combat A-29 provides pilots with the avionics, systems and performance experience that prepares them for real-world missions in advanced jet aircraft. The training capability of the A-29 is specifically designed for military aircraft mission experience, giving pilots the expertise and confidence they need to advance in their training to fly 4th and 5th generation aircraft and achieve success. With a similar cockpit to 4th generation fighter jets, the A-29 enables the effective training on processes and procedures to master the essential capacities of formation flying: hanging on another’s wing, providing protection in air-to-ground and air-to-air scenarios, and weapons deployment.
Isn’t the A-29 vulnerable, even in semi-permissive environments?
The well-armored, fast-flying and low-infrared-signature A-29 performs well in permissive and semi-permissive environments, which typically entail small arms fire and man-portable missiles. It has exceptional maneuverability and the ability to turn quickly in a smaller space, as opposed to faster aircraft. The engine on the A-29 is very difficult to target with heat-seeking munitions. For example, in 2016, the U.S. Air Force 81st Fighter Squadron’s A-29s participated in a Green Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. During the exercise, a platoon of U.S. Marines equipped with Stinger Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS) missiles were unable to get a valid shot at an A-29 light attack aircraft.
Doesn’t the U.S. already have planes that can handle light attack missions?
No. As Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson recently stated, “We should not be using an F-22 to destroy a narcotics factory in Afghanistan.”
Expensive fighters that are required for fights in defended airspace are being used in uncontested airspace, which increases operation & sustainment costs and reduces the lifespan of aircraft at a time when the USAF is already below the minimum sustainable fleet size for combat aircraft.
The A-29 is purpose-built for the light attack mission. Using the A-29 in permissive and semi-permissive environments frees up the more expensive fighter forces to take on threats in defended airspace. The continued use and interest in the A-29 by U.S. allies around the world, combined with its U.S. Air Force military type certificate, make it the most proven, capable aircraft for the light attack mission.
What does LAE and LAA stand for?
Phase 2 of the OA-X experiment commenced in 2017 was known as LAE: Light Attack Experiment. It was held at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico and concluded in July 2018.
LAA: Light Attack Aircraft, which is the initiative of the U.S. Air Force.
Why is the Light Attack Aircraft (LAA) Program a smart use of taxpayer money?
The cost-per-flight-hour of an A-29 is significantly less than that of 4th and 5th generation aircraft. The cost to operate a 4th or 5th generation fighter in a single close air support mission is over $64,000 per hour. An A-29 has a historical operating cost of approximately $1,000 per hour.
Further, a fleet of light attack aircraft would provide the U.S. Air Force with the aircraft inventory required for new pilot training along with much-needed relief to current fighters. It would preserve the combat capability of high-end aircraft while giving pilots experience for contested fights by training in a combat-proven, flexible aircraft.
Is the A-29 going to replace the A-10?
No, according to the United States Air Force. The A-29 would sustain and extend lifecycles of current fighter fleets.
The A-29 looks like a plane flown during World War II – How is it different?
While the esthetic design of the A-29 is reminiscent of World War II aircraft, the A-29 is equipped with state-of-the-art fifth generation technology to combat the modern threat of insurgents and violent extremists in a cost-efficient package. The A-29 can employ guided bombs, rockets and machine guns, and is equipped with advanced datalink capabilities, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance-(ISR) quality electro-optical and infrared sensors, and excellent combat identification capabilities.
In addition, the armor included on the A-29 is significantly enhanced from that featured on the light attack aircraft of previous generations, while its maintenance footprint is extremely low.
Are all A-29s the same?
No. For the proposed OA-X program, the A-29 would be built to the specifications set by the United States Air Force, giving U.S. pilots the best aircraft for these missions. Every A-29 can be configurable to perform Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and security missions, counter insurgency and counter terrorism.
Is the A-29 capable of networking with other aircraft including more advanced platforms?
The A-29 is mission-proven as having the interoperability and networking capability to gather, process, harness and disseminate data to U.S. and allied forces on the ground and in the air. It has achieved this objective in combat in Afghanistan and with 13 partner air forces around the world.
With its combination of advanced sensors and its ability to network with joint forces and coalition partners, the A-29 acts as a force multiplier as part of a fully integrated air and ground combat team sharing data across the battlefield.
The A-29 also features the operationally proven advanced networking and communications tool, Tactical Radio Application eXtension, known as SNC TRAX® software. SNC TRAX routes data from one datalink to another utilizing MIL-STDs and industry standards, effectively combining them and eliminating any proprietary interfaces and protocols. This allows users to work around incompatible waveforms and experience the full advantages of net-enabled combat.
Isn’t the A-29 too slow?
As a function of light attack mission environments, the A-29’s ability to fly low and slow is one of its main benefits. It allows for additional time to hone in on small or hard-to-see targets, as well as the ability to operate under the weather for improved visibility. The A-29’s long loiter time and rough field capabilities offer high-precision engagement that is comparable to a 4th and 5th generation aircraft at a much lower cost.
What is OA-X?
OA-X was a United States Air Force (USAF) experiment. Generals from USAF have stated publicly the need to explore the benefits of acquiring a non-developmental light attack aircraft to provide close air support and other missions in permissive and semi-permissive environments. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have stated the need to reduce fighter pilot training costs and mitigate the Air Force’s fighter pilot shortfall. The USAF announced it was conducting a Capability Assessment of Non-Developmental Light Attack Platforms. Learn more here.