Air Force bringing back two prop planes for low-intensity conflicts
Two propeller-driven aircraft have been selected by the United States Air Force to fill a wide variety of combat roles.
The Light Attack Aircraft Program has produced two winners for the USAF- the Sierra Nevada-Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and the Textron AT-6, two prop-driven aircraft that are ready, willing and able to handle a multitude of missions.
With internal armaments akin to a World War II fighter and a speed that would make 5th-generation fighter pilots doze off mid-flight, the aircraft aren’t exactly sexy, but they fill roles that larger jet aircraft might not be suited for.
According to the National Interest, the two planes are designed to support ground maneuvers and potentially fire precision weapons at ground targets from close range.
With laser/infrared targeting systems (for precision-guided bombs and missiles), long loiter times and the ability to use everything from .50 caliber to 20mm in terms of gunfighting, the two planes are able to keep troops happy in low-intensity conflicts, and even hold their own in contested airspace (if the pilots are savvy enough).
From Close Air Support to Forward Observation and Combat Search and Rescue, the throwback birds may usher the return of a role once made legend by prop-driven aircraft such as the A-1 Skyraider and P-47 Thunderbolt.
U.S. trained pilots with the Afghan Air Force have been attacking the Taliban with A-29s, while an unarmed variant of the AT-6 has been used as a trainer for the U.S. Navy.
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