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USAF seeks industry help for light attack aircraft experiment

By Richard Tomkins
The U.S. Air Force announced it will hold a platform experiment this summer in New Mexico to explore cost-effective light attack aircraft options. Pictured, a Beechcraft AT-6 light attack aircraft. Photo courtesy of Beechcraft
The U.S. Air Force announced it will hold a platform experiment this summer in New Mexico to explore cost-effective light attack aircraft options. Pictured, a Beechcraft AT-6 light attack aircraft. Photo courtesy of Beechcraft

March 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force issued an invitation this week to industry to participate in a capability assessment of light attack aircraft.

The live-fly experiment, part a broader Air Force effort to explore cost-effective attack platform options, will be held this summer at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

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The off-the-shelf aircraft from industry participants will be flown by service personnel in scenarios designed to highlight aspects of combat missions, such as close air support, armed reconnaissance, combat search-and-rescue, and strike control and reconnaissance.

The Air Force said the experiment includes the use of weapons commonly used by other fighter/attack aircraft. The experimentation will include a number of mission events including medium altitude basic day and night surface attack, precision munition surface attack, armed reconnaissance and close air support.

"After 25 years of continuous combat operations, our Air Force is in more demand than ever," Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, said in a press release. "Since we don't expect deployment requirements to decrease, we have to look for innovative and affordable ways to meet capability demands in permissive environments while building and maintaining readiness to meet emerging threats in more contested environments.

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"This is an experiment, not a competition."

The results of the demonstration will be used to inform requirements and criteria for future investment decisions, U.S. Air Force officials said, even if the upcoming event does not specifically lead to acquisitions.

The industry invitation can be viewed on the Federal Business Opportunities website, https://www.fbo.gov.

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