Assessing the interoperability and networking capabilities of new and potential U.S. Air Force (USAF) assets is an important objective to be met in order to achieve the goals set forth in the National Defense Strategy. As the USAF progresses toward achieving these goals, while also implementing a more rapid procurement process, it has utilized the light attack aircraft program as a source of information on how to most efficiently enable international collaboration between the USAF and partner nations.
USAF Light Attack Aircraft (LAA) Program
The LAA program, and preceding experiments that took place in 2017 and 2018 at Holloman Air Force Base, are part of a broader effort led by the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Its intent is to acquire “an affordable, non-developmental aircraft intended to operate globally in the types of Irregular Warfare environments that have characterized combat operations over the past 25 years.”
Together, SNC and Embraer have put forth the A-29 Super Tucano as the proposed solution to the need for LAA. The A-29 is purpose-built for light attack,is combat proven with partner nations globally. It has more than 46,000 combat hours under its wings.
Both aircraft in the competition are required to be equipped with the Aeronet, which is an “easily exportable means of exchanging data with coalition allies across the air, land and sea domains of operation.”
The A-29 fulfills this requirement along with inclusion of Link-16 to enable additional data sharing.
Partner Nation Interoperability
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 can enter inventory ready to plug into USAF Command & Control (C2) architecture. It’s unique in its design as an open architecture platform, capable of rapid integration of new sensors, radios and mission software, and in the aircraft’s ability to match the growing need for Multi-Domain Command & Control (MDC2) required for U.S. and allied forces.
SNC TRAX ®
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.
About the A-29
Built in Jacksonville, Florida, the A-29 is an established combat, reconnaissance and training aircraft that is already in use by air forces around the globe. It is currently in its third year conducting combat and reconnaissance operations in Afghanistan with more than 46,000 combat hours under its wings. The A-29 is known for its rugged and durable design, which allows it not only to perform routine operations from unimproved runways and at forward operating bases, but to leave a very low maintenance footprint while sustaining exceptionally high mission capable rates.