The Navy – of all the services – appears ready to commit nearly significant resources to a propeller-driven light attack aircraft in support of deep overland NSW missions in Afghanistan:
Lockheed Martin and Hawker-Beechcraft are considering pitching its AT-6B light-attack counterinsurgency plane for the upcoming Navy-led Combat Dragon II program, according to sources familiar with the effort.
The Navy recently shifted over $17 million into the Combat Dragon II program, designed to prove that a small, turboprop-driven aircraft can be used for “high end/special aviation” missions in Afghanistan.
The program was driven by the need coming out of from Central Command to have aircraft do close air support missions that larger fighters and bombers could not do, specifically in support of Naval Special Warfare units.
The Navy tried to fill that requirement through the Imminent Fury program, using the Brazilian-built Embraer Super Tucano. But that program fizzled out shortly before the planes headed out to Afghanistan for operational tests.
What I found really interesting was the cited quote from USAF Chief-of-Staff Norman Schwarz that the junior service has no intention of fielding a COIN-tailored light attack aircraft of its own, despite the stated requirement from the JROC and JRB.
Which they call them “requirements” for a reason, and talk about not getting it…