Home » Wars » Afghan Update » Super Tucano Wins USAF’s Light Attack Contest

Super Tucano Wins USAF’s Light Attack Contest

by John Reed on December 31, 2011

It’s official, the Air Force has selected Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano as the Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft, better known as a counterinsurgency (COIN) plane.

The air service is buying 20 Super Ts from Embraer and its U.S. partner, Sierra Nevada Corporation, for $355 million, according to an announcement that Embraer released last night. Remember, a couple of years ago the Air Force planned to buy dozens of cheap, turboprop-driven COIN aircraft that could be used to provide light air support and ISR for troops fighting insurgents in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The planes were supposed to take the burden for such unglamorous missions off of jet fighters like the F-16, which cost far more to operate.  However, the draw-down from Iraq combined with shrinking defense budgets forced the air service to dramatically reduce the program. Now, the  service will use the small fleet of turboprop planes to help build up the nascent Afghan air force and the air services of “other nations.” Those last two words leave the possibility open for more Super T sales beyond those to the U.S. Air Force and Afghan air force.

“The A-29 Super Tucano will be used to conduct advanced flight training, aerial reconnaissance and light air support operations,” reads the company announcement.

Just over a month ago, Hawker Becchcraft’s AT-6B, Embraer’s rival in the LAS contest, was booted from the competition leaving the door wide open for the Super Tucano to win. The only question was whether the service would even buy the little planes.

Click through the jump to read the full text of Embraer’s announcement:

SPARKS, NV, DECEMBER 30, 2011 – Eren Ozmen, President, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), and Luiz Carlos Aguiar, CEO, Embraer Defense and Security (Embraer), today announced that the U.S. Air Force has selected SNC, partnered with Embraer, to supply Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft to be used as part of the U.S. government’s partner building efforts in Afghanistan and other nations.  The A-29 Super Tucano will be used to conduct advanced flight training, aerial reconnaissance and light air support operations.

As specified by the Air Force, SNC is being awarded a firm-fixed price delivery order 0001 contract in the amount of $355,126,541 for the Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft and associated support.  The delivery order is being issued under the simultaneously awarded basic contract FA8637-12-D-6001, an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract.  The initial demand is for 20 LAS aircraft together with ground training devices to support pilot training and support for all maintenance and supply requirements for the aircraft and associated support equipment.

“We are honored by this decision and the opportunity to serve our country,” said Taco Gilbert, Vice President of ISR Business Development at SNC. “We believe in the goals of the Light Air Support mission and are proud to be able to support the United States in its partner-building efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.  American warfighters, American workers, and our partner nations all win with this award.”

The LAS mission requires a non-developmental solution that provides the versatility, engagement, and persistence that the warfighter needs in a counterinsurgency environment, at a significantly lower cost than fighter jets.  That aircraft must offer intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities; deliver a wide variety of munitions configurations, including precision guided munitions; and operate in extremely rugged terrain and austere conditions.

The A-29 Super Tucano was built specifically for counterinsurgency missions and is currently used by six air forces and on order by others.  It has proven extremely capable for LAS missions and is credited with helping the Colombian government defeat the FARC and other governments counter illegal activities.  The more than 150 units now in operation around the world have logged over 130,000 flight hours, including more than 18,000 combat hours without any combat loss.

“We are ready to support the LAS mission immediately,” said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President Embraer Defense and Security.  “This is a tremendous opportunity for Embraer, the citizens of Florida and the thousands of employees who will be part of our supply chain.  We look forward to working with SNC and the U.S. Air Force to provide these aircraft.”

The LAS bid process received strong support from political leaders and Members of Congress from many states, including Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Texas and Oregon. “The goal of Sierra Nevada’s team, which included its partner Embraer and major suppliers FLIR, based in Oregon, and Elbit Systems of America, based in Texas, was to present the U.S. Air Force and partner nations with the best LAS capability.  We appreciate the many Members of Congress and other officials who supported a fair and open competition. We are particularly grateful to the many Florida state officials and members of the Florida congressional delegation who assisted in establishing a production facility in their state that will result in the creation of new jobs, bringing prosperity to their communities,” SNC’s Gilbert said.

The A-29 Super Tucano will be built in Jacksonville, FL by American employees with parts from American companies.  Aircraft training will be provided in Clovis, NM.  More than 70 U.S. suppliers in 21 states will supply parts or services for this contract.  At least 1,200 U.S. jobs will be supported through this contract.

Embraer is now moving to prepare for assembly operations.  The new production facility in Jacksonville joins a facility in Melbourne recently opened by Embraer to assemble executive jets.

With a fully developed aircraft, a familiar supply chain and SNC’s expertise in providing in-theater logistical support, commanders in theater will take possession of the first A-29 Super Tucanos on-schedule and on-budget as per the LAS requirements.

Embraer will provide the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft; ground training devices (GTD) – simulators and planning stations; and spare parts.  SNC will provide in-field logistic support and pilot and maintenance training.

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{ 149 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicky December 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The A-29 Super Tucano is not only perfect as a COIN and ISR aircraft, it can also be used to patrol the CONUS and the US Borders. I think a Fleet of these should be used for the US Air force as well. It would be perfect if each Air National guard unit has a squadron of these in addition to their F-16's and F-15's.

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ajSpades January 1, 2012 at 11:02 am

Why use the Super Tucano at ~$20 million a piece when a cheaper general aviation platform is all that is needed for patrolling the borders? I would imagine a bush-pilot type plane would be even better if they really needed to land out in the desert for some reason.

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tiger January 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm

It's for the Borders of Afghanistan. Did you miss the point about suppling the Afgan Air Force?

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fromage January 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm

And did you miss the point about Nicky saying "it can also be used to patrol the CONUS and the US Borders?" ajSpades wasn't being illiterate.

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Tony January 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm

The SIA-Marchetti fighter can do a lot better job for about $100,000 each. I know I've flown one.

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Thomas L. Nielsen January 4, 2012 at 2:08 am

Have you flown the A-29 as well? If not, then please tell us on what you base that comparison.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Paul C January 9, 2012 at 9:04 pm

This is BS. Once again, the USAF proves itself CORRUPT by buying OUTSIDE THE USA. They considered the EADS aircraft as a tanker to replace KC-135s and now this. The question is: Did OBAMA influence USAF procurement officials and is this a kickback to Brazil to support their other interests in the USA, nemaley gaining USD for oil exploration? I am retired USAF and this disgusts me to no end. US tax dollars going to a Brazilian aircraft company. This is another reason we need a SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

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Musson December 31, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Aww man. You could have bought half an F-35 instead.

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kim January 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Well played….

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William C. January 1, 2012 at 8:53 pm

It's always been that way. In 1970 how many PA-48s (based off the P-51) could you buy for a single F-15? Yet which is more useful?

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William C. January 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm

You down-voters are missing the point. There is a balance to be struck in everything. For COIN operations it may be good to have something like the A-29, though I kinda preferred the OV-10X proposal. Yet we still need our F-15s, F-22s, and F-35s. Modern fighters are damned expensive, there is no avoiding that. But they're survivable in conventional warfare. We can't ignore needs related to COIN warfare, but we can't use the procurement of aircraft like the A-29 as an excuse to weaken other aspects of the air force.

If you guys want specifics you could get 2.5 F-35s for $355 million, going by current LRIP prices which will go down as production continues.

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Paralus January 3, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Yes, I agree. Don't weaken the Air Farce, give it and the A-10s to the Army and Marines instead.

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Mat January 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm

US sold 15 T-6A Texans to Iraq for 210mio$ and that is a very basic plane compared to this with 50% less power ,no armament ,no surveilance equipment,very basic elctronics

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George December 31, 2011 at 2:58 pm

They could just rebuild a A-1 Skyraider with new cockpit instead of buying Brazilian-designed Ceesna look-a-likes

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tiger December 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm

We are not going back to 1950. There are no mass of Skyraiders left worth rebuilding. Best plane won for a change.

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carloscardoso December 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Cry, baby, CRY!!!!!

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bob December 31, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Dumb brazillian.

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jungleboy January 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm

dumb american

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Belesari December 31, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I think both the sky raider and the tucano are over built for this.

The airtractor or any other could have done just as well for around 5mil or so per plane and would have been less maintanence intensive.

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TGR December 31, 2011 at 8:53 pm

A-1 = wrong engine for starters

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tribulationtime January 1, 2012 at 11:03 am

I agree with all new technology. Carbon fibers, Titanium and some finishing aerodinamics (wingtips, reshape engine area, or something like that). Advantages? A) sort time airwhorty qualification B) Real COIN enought warload with long loitering/patroling time. C) All COIN performance Tested D) damage endurance and lower maintenance and cheaper. Disavantages? killer One) minimun builder profit.

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Rajarata December 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Great choice ..cuz… proven along Brazilian & Ecdudorian border !

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SKyepapa January 3, 2012 at 10:30 am

Brazil does not border Ecuador at any point.

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jhm January 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm

i think he meant the ones used to intercept little cessnas loaded with coke

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B_Smitty December 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I was hoping the OV-10X could've broken into the competition. Yes, it's not in production, but IMHO it had more going for it.

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moose January 2, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Boeing said they were going to move forward with OV-10X even without a win, but haven't heard much from them since. If they got the line rolling they'd have a better shot at follow-on contracts.

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Tanvi March 24, 2014 at 10:37 pm

There are so many good ones there that it’s hard for me to pick a favourite! Though the mycorcotlist who ended up in the garden had me wincing before he made his lucky escape.Do you think the driving is so bad over there in general, that it’s compulsory for everyone to have a camera in their car for insurance purposes?

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Jim December 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Close to $18MM per unit? Sure doesn't seem like much of a bargain.

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MCQknight December 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Compared to a $100 million dollar F-15 or $250 million dollar F-22 it is.

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TGR December 31, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Still cheaper than operating a Reaper

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ew3 December 31, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Not so sure about that….

Be curious how you came to this conclusion.

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TMB January 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

There is a massive difference in cost per flight hour between an F-16 and the Tucano.

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Tony January 3, 2012 at 11:17 pm

An Italian Merchetti for $90,000 can do the same job if not better. I know, I've flown one.

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Thomas L. Nielsen January 5, 2012 at 2:10 am

To repeat: Have you also flown the A-29 Super Tuc? If not, please let us know how you arrive at your conclusion that the SIAI Marchetti (what version?) will "do the same job if not better".

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Eric December 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm

what's the closest civilian version?

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Dennis January 2, 2012 at 11:40 am

No civilian counterpart – built specifically for the military trainer markeplace.

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Ben January 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm

There's no equivalent to this particular craft, but the Pilatus PC-21 has broadly similar size, specs, and performance.

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Marcel December 31, 2011 at 4:43 pm

avionics are the expensive part of the A-29 this is why it costs $18MM. But the good thing of this airplane is the operational cost, much cheaper than a jet plane and able to do the same job:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON4tt8XKOHw

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@Earlydawn December 31, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I'm glad that the Air Force is getting into the light attack business, but with Afghanistan winding down, I'm worried that these might just get donated to a "friendly" country.

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Brian Black January 3, 2012 at 8:03 am

The USAF isn't getting into the light attack business… yet, these are for mentoring and developing basic air forces in Afghanistan and around the globe.

I don't understand your government's opposition to light attack aircraft, especially considering the potential financial savings.

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Robert Colt December 31, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Question remains, will the high-tech Airforce actually get the aircraft for its service. Airforce always like the high-tech verse low tech, including A-10s. Only through reality did they cave in a keep the plane. A-29 seems like with wars winding down, Air Force will likely not employ them in the service since their budget going down likely want keep the high-cost ticket aircraft instead.

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Anthony March 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm

This aircraft IS high tech, its a precision strike capable aircraft, it simply doesn't have the speed and payload capacity of a larger aircraft. The quality of the electronics is comparable to large jet fighters.

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DockScience December 31, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Be interesting to see why Beechcraft was shut out.

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tiger January 1, 2012 at 4:09 am
OCLandspeeder January 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm

They were dropped because the AT-6C is simply not as capable & robust as the A-29. Plus, Raytheon needed more time to get everything working properly since the AT6-C needed A LOT of work for it be anywhere as good for COIN as the A-29 is right out of the box. The Texan II was designed as a trainer for "rich" air forces of the world who can afford to have it land and maintained at nicely paved, clean, air bases.. The Super Tucano was designed as a COIN from the ground up that will take a beating, land on rough fields, carry more weapons, carry a gun (internally), and loiter for very long periods.

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major.rod January 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Specifics? What work needed to be done? . What says the AT6 is for rich countries that have neat clean runways? Because its US made? Morocco has ordered them and so has Iraq. Do they operate from only "nice" runways. The AT6B is cheaper I believe. Why do you say its maintenance costs are higher? Payload, speed and endurance are virtually the same. Landing gear? Uh the fact that its a training aircraft might say the landing gear isn't as "dainty" as you'd like to believe.

You are trying awful hard to convince everyone that the Tocano is hands down superior without specs. Hmmmm, you have any embraer stock?

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Gladius January 3, 2012 at 3:01 pm

You are righr DS.There was no contest. Today I understand Beechcraft is sueing as it seems to be turning out to be a no bid contract for a foreingn company. Is this anything like " We want to Brazil's best buyer " ?

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major.rod January 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm

No one is answering the question. Beechcraft was supposedly a couple of days late responding to the notice it was dropped which was sent to the wrong office.

That's why no one Tocano fanboys aren't listing specifics or refering you to Tocano's fact sheet which is written by guess who? Embraer.

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jamFRIDGE January 4, 2012 at 8:52 am

Maybe we wanted a good deal on some Brazilian oil?

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Belesari December 31, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I think the picking of the Tucano had more to do with politics than the best craft to win.

Some part of me expects to see brazil announce a important defense deal go down with US defense companies.

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kim January 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm

http://www.builtforthemission.com/

Looks like the Tucano is a superior aircraft. Have a look et the comparison sheet and decide for yourself.

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major.rod January 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Looked at the sheet. They didn't list the AT6 is an AMERICAN plane, is cheaper, already in use by the USAF or any areas specs where the AT6 has better performance.

It's a pretty partial piece of paper.

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ronald January 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Please produce your proof that the Hawker aircraft is cheaper than the Tucano.

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major.rod January 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Tucano $10.6 mil http://www.aircraftcompare.com/helicopter-airplan… Which is a lot less than 355 bil for 20 planes (then it's $17mil per)

The AT6B $10mil http://www.casr.ca/mp-army-aviation-coin-daly.htm

Google is a wonderful thing. You have better numbers?

Mat January 2, 2012 at 10:17 am

Tucano will be as american as Texan II (Pilatus PC-9) ,but is the right plane for the job ,bigger sturdier with wing mounted guns .

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Praetorian January 2, 2012 at 11:40 am

Belesari has a point. The Super Hornet is in compition with the Rafale in Brazil for thier next fighter aircraft. Most of things I have been reading say the Rafale will win
but you never know.

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bob December 31, 2011 at 10:05 pm

So much for "buy American". Now we're sticking with this stupid brazillian made crap when we have f-16's/f-15's stuck in the scrap yards waiting to be destroyed.

With the most spent in defense budget, we can't even come up with our own light attack fighter.

Pathetic.

This is why the Russians/Chinese have been, and will be more ingenuitive than us.

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Mister Rose December 31, 2011 at 10:10 pm

But we still have the top spot for inventing new words!

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idiot January 1, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Nope, not a new word, it's called slang.

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tiger January 1, 2012 at 3:38 am

Bob, the plane will be built in the USA. Try reading the article.

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kim January 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm

It's ok – pretty often other countries buy American instead of their own stuff….

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BAJ15 January 2, 2012 at 11:47 am

I suspect this might have something to do with Brazils long awaited A-4 replacement decision; aka more F-18 sales for to big to fail/big political donor Boeing.

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major.rod January 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm

BINGO!!!

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Mastro January 3, 2012 at 9:10 am

If the Texan had been All-American (not a Swiss design that takes a big royalty bite per unit)- maybe the Brazilian model would have come up short.

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Paul C January 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Ingenuitive? No such word. BTW, this is OBAMA corruption forced on the USAF.

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Mc Donald April 17, 2013 at 11:33 am

Gringo idiota, só olhar toda a ficha técnica do Super Tucano. Você não pode utilizar um F-15 ou F-16 para fazer o mesmo serviço.

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Lance January 1, 2012 at 12:52 am

Should have brought back the A-1H Skyraider Carries more munitions and is faster prop plane. and could absorb alot more damage and bring the pilot home.

An A-10 could do a better job then this lousy Turboprop could. Piston and or pure Jet is the way to go Turboprops are worthless.

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tiger January 1, 2012 at 4:08 am

Lance, you must be a Obama advisor with all the bad ideas…….

The A29 Is faster, has a better service ceiling and the same range. There are only about 20 flyable Skyraiders in the world. They have not built one since Buddy Holly was alive. The Tucano is a off the shelf plane in service with many Air forces. The design was better than the AT6 on many levels.

http://www.builtforthemission.com/

The A-10 is not built for the mission at hand. Hell Fairchild is not even in business anymore.

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John January 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Exactly, and we already have several hundred paid-for A-10s with recently modernized avionics supported by a mature training and logistics pipeline that can do everything the Tucano can and much more. Instead, we spend a third of a billion dollars on a lousy 20 aircraft to create a niche fleet that needs its own separate training and logistics support network and can only survive in a benign air environment. For the same money, AF could have financed the last major unfunded A-10 upgrade (a new engine core) and made our entire low and slow CAS/COIN fleet golden for another 25 years……..

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SJE January 2, 2012 at 10:22 am

A-10 is an awesome plane, but you don't need a titanium bathtub, 30mm cannon with DU rounds and $1000s/hr fuel to shoot up some guys in a mud hut or a pickup truck.

I agree that the logistics and costs are a concern. Personally, I see this as a test run to a larger buy at a lower unit cost, including lower tech versions to give to friendlies.

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Belesari January 1, 2012 at 8:50 am

Wow the tucano fan boys are out in force today ya'll. No matter how much you down click you still can't take away the fact that our opinions are more than likely right,

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Alex January 1, 2012 at 9:29 am

Why can't you all accept that the A-29 is the right plane for the given mission?

The A-29 won "fair & square" the USAF competition…. Hence the contract!

Done.

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Belesari January 1, 2012 at 10:45 am

Because something like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Tractor_AT-802U

Would have better range be cheaper to operate and more than twice the payload. Of course…damn its a terribly unsexy plane. Oh and cheaper.

We don't need a P-51 or a super fast super powerful prop fighter.

We need a cheapish long endurance, slow, reliable, powerful bomb truck.

The Airforce screwed this around till it was forced to pick the Tucano. If this was a army program more than likely the Tucano would not have been selected.

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tiger January 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm

That is a damn crop duster trying to be a combat plane. It would not even come close fitting the requirements.
http://www.builtforthemission.com/

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Belesari January 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm

OMG you idiot YOU DONT NEED A DAMN FIGHTER PLANE JESUS.

How many fighters does the taliban have? NONE

AQ? NONE

Than why do you need a fighter?????

YOU DONT!

And sending the site promoting the damn thing is just annoying its on 20 different post on this one topic atleast. THE point is that the ONLY thing going for the Tucano is this.

Its sexy and its already in service………wow big woop.

That modified crop duster can carry more of a bomb load longer and is more robust and able to get hurt without killing the pilots as well as being more reliable and cheaper.

The C-130 was built to be a cargo aircraft…someone converted it into a ground support aircraft with the AC-130. Guess what it works great.

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kim January 1, 2012 at 6:48 pm

An F16 is a fighter. The Tucano is a state-of-the-art COIN plane.

Drink decaf from now on.

Brian Black January 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I see Hawker have launched a legal protest against the competition decision.

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major.rod January 3, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Alex – what "fair and square" competition are you talking about? Beechcraft got bounced because they didn't respond to correspondence sent to the wrong office.

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Paul C January 9, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Alex, No IT DID NOT. Once again, the USAF procurement team has been corrupted. This is Obama paying off Brazil.

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Tad January 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm

How does the pilot see over the front engine? And over the wing? Wouldn't something with the wing on top and engines off to the sides or in the backt be better for viewing the ground? Just curious.

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kim January 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm

An old Bronco would give the pilot a better view, but it also had two engines to maintain. Though not this perfect, the pilot sits fairly high in the Tucano for better visibility. Low wings makes it easier to arm the plane with rockets or bombs.

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Jonathan January 1, 2012 at 7:03 pm

How the hell does one of these cost 18 million dollars?

Does America even know the worth of a million dollars anymore? We are so used to spending billions that we forget how much a million really is.

Multi million dollar avionics? Haha yeah right.

This plane is worth $750,000 at most.

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bob January 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Agreed, we're buying old ww2 modeled planes now because we're 14+ trillion dollars in debt and we don't care about the surplus jets we have.

This is why the defense budget NEEDS to be cut. The money isn't going to the troops, it's going to worthless contracts such as this.

Who benefits? Not the American people that's for sure.

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William C. January 1, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Multi-million dollar avionics? Yep. Guess how much a modern targeting pod costs? Hell, do you know how much work has to go into simply making the "glass" used block certain laser wavelengths yet allow others?

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Mat January 2, 2012 at 10:06 am

US sold 15 T-6A Texans to Iraq for 210mio$ and that is a very basic plane compared to this with 50% less power ,no armament ,no surveilance equipment,very basic elctronics
Price includes goldplating ,Florida jobs program and fees for congresmen and lobbyists and in teh end of that Sierra needs to make a profit even in case of cost overruns . Buying 20 planes would never justifly setting up a production but that is the price of politics.

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major.rod January 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Look at the AT6B

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William C. January 1, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Anyway, it's good to see this contract finally get awarded. But it seems 4 years late.

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bob January 2, 2012 at 1:04 am

For all you 'BUY AMERICAN' folks out there. Hawker Beechcraft may be based in Kansas but is partially owned by a Canadian company (Onex) and has been closing their US plants and moving them to Mexico.

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation Opens Facility In Mexico http://www.aviationpros.com/press_release/1040610

Hawker Beechcraft opens second facility in Mexico http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/hawker-

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Rhyscurrency January 2, 2012 at 2:34 am

Embraer is a Brazilian company. SNC is based in Sparks, NV with around 30 locations throughout the US.

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dockem January 2, 2012 at 8:48 am

Talk about re-inventing the wheel!

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PolicyWonk January 2, 2012 at 10:45 am

Where the US Navy used these planes successfully (they leased them) and tested them in COIN operations, the Navy's version of the USAF's infamous "fighter mafia" is suspicious of the A-29 partially because it isn't carrier certified. Then again, neither is a PC-3.

The A-29 should be able to perform COIN operations well. Its got the range, loiter capability, and sufficient hard points to be really useful (and cheap to run/maintain).

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robertro2 January 2, 2012 at 11:54 am

LOOKS LIKE IT WILL DO THE JOB THAT THEY NEED IT FOR AND BRING WORK TO PLACES IN THE USA….

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OCLandspeeder January 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm

The A-29 won because it is the ONLY COIN aircraft of the type that is proven, in service, and can be delivered now. The Raytheon AT-6C simply is not meant for COIN but optmized as an advanced trainer. It can't operate in rough fields! Meanwhile the A-29 has been doing its job as COIN for years and years now. It has a robust airframe, heavy duty landing gears, greater payload, range, etc. The cost of the plane is commensurate with its capabilities. It has the latest avionics AND the most advanced targeting and observation & network system available. That is why it cost money. $18M is nothing when you factor in the cost of an F16 $55M+. A Blackhawk UH60M cost around $15M! The A10 is no longer in production and the cost of tooling up to produce it will exceed the $55M of a new F16 Block 52. The closest alternantive to the A-29 is the AMX MR fighter jet but it sure as hell would cost more than $18M and it won't have anywhere close to a 4 hour loiter time loaded with weapons as the A29.

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major.rod January 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Uh, you do know trainers are flown by students that tend to have rough landing skills? How do you KNOW the AT6B can't operate from rough fields? Why is that a requirement. We haven't operated CAS from rough fields since WWII.

Why are you comparing the Tocano's price against jets and helicopters? Seems a comparison against the Beechcraft's $10mil price would be more appropriate (though it put a nice big neat hole in your argument). Combat proven? The Tocano is a good plane. Its "combat" record is not an insurmountable achievement. OV10's have a more distinguished record against a much less permissive environment.

You're creating a straw argument you can easily knowck down. When you compare the numbers the Tocano isn't a hands down winner. Now include a multibillion dollar F18 deal to Brazil and it sure is… My recommendation is wait on this purchase until Brazil decides what its going to do and look at the beechcraft while we wait.

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major.rod January 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Absolutely!!! Amazing how they cite Tocano press releases (like they are going to say anything derafatory) instead of putting down specs. Real free innovative thinkers?

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major.rod January 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm

So does the AT6B

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PolicyWonk January 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Granted. But the A-29 is purpose built, and has 50 cals built in, where the AT6B requires pods., and the sensors are better placed to do the job (if the stuff I've read is correct). I would prefer to buy American – but if we haven't got the goods, then why not buy off the shelf if we can? This is a small purchase.

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major.rod January 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Even small purchases mean a lot of jobs. Sensor placement is a ridiculous aircraft criterieon (they are easily moved). I'd prefer guns in the wings but not a gamechanger. The purpose built is a trojan horse. What ARE the differences. The AT6 is in use, it's American and it will do the job.

Check out the reasons the Air Force turned it down and consider the pending potential F18 Brazilian purchase which is not a sure thing.

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tiger January 3, 2012 at 5:12 pm

What is the deal with the flag waving?We live in a multi national world. I guess a Camaro built in Canada is great "American" car?

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major.rod January 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Premature decision by the Air Force. Beechcraft has a protest in.

This looks more and more like a "reach around" to induce the Brazilians to go with the F18.

The Tocano is a fine plane but the lengths its supporters go to ignore other inconvenient facts is a strong indicator that there is a lot more than meets the eye.

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Rodrigo January 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm

What are the inconvenient facts? not starting a flame war here, just trying to understand your point of view.

The decision was not premature as this was a lengthy process.

But hey, US can surelly put together a better plane with the same US parts.

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PolicyWonk January 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Yo majrod –

Please elaborate – I'd love to know where you're coming from.

Cheers,
PW

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major.rod January 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Endurance – beechcraft (+300mi), speed, – Tocano (5mph), price, beechcraft is a little better ($10 vs $10.6).

Google for more inconvenient facts. No flaming necessary but let's not hate on the messenger. LOL, look how many negatives I got for telling th truth!

They are both good planes. I'm just for buying American unless clearly outclassed. The Tocano doesn't do that. That's where ploitics comes into play.

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Super Fly January 2, 2012 at 11:06 pm

A small amount of faith in the USAF has been restored but this plane should have been bought 7 years ago and in significant quantities (100+).

Unfortunately history is not repeating but rhyming, after Vietnam we divested ourselves of our excellent COIN aircraft (A-37, A-1, OV-10, OV-10, etc…) developed over that long war and now at the probable last stretch of these conflicts we are going half in and too late.

But we'll take what little the fighter mafia will give…

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Super Fly January 2, 2012 at 11:07 pm

OV-10, OV-1 I meant…

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grimreaper January 3, 2012 at 8:45 am

Why is this little varmit eating aircraft being given to the Air Farce? They are just a gaggle of prissy blustering do nothing lead sled drivers. If the govt is going to buy this type of aircraft, they why arent they distrbuted to the Army and the Marines and the Coast Guard and the Border Patrol where they will be used for something other than kiddy rides for AF woosies. Ground troops need aircover, the AF needs to get a life !!!

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m167a1 January 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Don't make fun of the wingnuts… they get all huffy. :-) to demonstrate I encourage you to repeat your remarks to the next PJ you meet.

Now BS aside there has always been an issue in the DOD when it comes of who does what. there are good, bad and political arguments on both sides and we don't need to rehash the "who owns CAS" thing here.

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jungleboy January 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm

south american socialist nation only in your tv watcher brainless mind, bacon eater fat american friend

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StrumPanzer January 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I'm sure the Super Toucan will be a great COIN fighter and Fire support aircraft. I just wish they had dusted off the old Burt Rutan Ares Mudfighter plans and used that instead. I was just reading that the AT-6 is actually based on the PC-9 which is a Swiss design so what the big deal if we or plain is designed by the Swiss or the Brazilians. Hey may it will be able to samba on the battlefield.

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Rodrigo January 3, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Hey, if they do samba on the battlefield, Shouldnt they also drop beer instead of bombs?

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Rodrigo January 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm

wow… i hope you dont represent the majority of the US view… cuz you sound stupid.

When did Canada become part of the US? Did it become the 51st state?

The Beechcraft brand has since been purchased from Raytheon by Onex Corporation a Canadian "private equity fund" which retained the name Hawker Beechcraft.[3]

That said, their plane is not better, its an adaptation of a smaller plane to try to match the requirements and it failed at that.

Brazil is not anymore socialist than the US with its socialized education and 911 services. Yes our constitution gives us some garantees on what everyone gets equaly, like health care and education, police, etc etc etc. The Country does a terrible job at creating a fair situation for everybudy, but we are improving. that doesnt mean we're communist, that acusation alone lets everyone else who can look into reality know that you are not very informed of the time and age we are living in. Cold war is over, get over it.

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tiger January 3, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Well said!

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driesz January 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm

What about resurrecting a proven classic – the A-1 Skyraider! Unit costs would sure probably be lower.

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stef January 3, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Main cost is not the airframe or the engine but all the electronics and weapon system

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Thomas L. Nielsen January 5, 2012 at 2:17 am

"sure probably"? A bit conflicted there?

Besides, "resurrecting" an old (yes, old) design, with no existing production capability, nu support structure and no spare parts is NOT going to be cheap.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Paralus January 3, 2012 at 11:09 pm

It would be interesting to see if they can integrate the SDB or the mortar rounds that they are adopting for CAS. Laser guided AKPWS-II hanging off the wing would be a nice touch.

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Tacairman January 4, 2012 at 11:09 am

The Blackwater owner saw the need for this first. They bought a Super T back in 2005 already. It was used as a precision CAS demonstrator for JSOC and USAF. Too bad the USG didn't listen then. USG would have saved billions in fuel and aircraft maintenance already.

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jhm January 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm

i miss the old broncos…

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Tim January 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Uh oh… It looks like this is not going to happen… yet.
http://defensenews.com/story.php?i=8751302&c=

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Oudin January 5, 2012 at 3:35 am

I think AT6B best buy, but AF so much corrupt win super tucano A29.

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Thomas L. Nielsen January 6, 2012 at 2:08 am

So the USAF is corrupt because they didn't choose your favourite?

Seriously? Well boo-hoo….

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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bill mcdonald January 26, 2012 at 10:54 am

when will the dept of defence start working to help fight our wars, instead of working for other countries and agaist our servicmen and bussinesses angry americanmcrexd

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biochip technology and the computers of the future February 17, 2013 at 2:58 pm
Felica December 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm
Musson December 31, 2011 at 2:58 pm

There plane is to fill the large gap between a Predator and an F-15. It does not have to be much better than a P-51 to do that.

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tiger December 31, 2011 at 3:07 pm

That is the mission. Low, slow, Long loiter, Easy to fly & maintain. Can fly off unpaved strips. Has all the modern avionics, proven platform.

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Mastro January 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm

The P-51 was for high altitude fighting. A lot of pilots died on straffing runs- with that big gas tank and an engine that would seize up if it or the radiator was hit.

Tuning a Merlin engine was a nightmare- the maintenance on a Tucano is probably 1/10th of that on a Mustang.

Tucano is better for the COIN role- hands down.

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Mat January 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

WW2 fighters eat turboprop trainers for breakfast ,but turboprops are far cheaper to operate and far more reliable and unlike WW2 fighters dont need speed ,guns and armor to train pilots.

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IronV January 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm

The performance, per se, of the Super Tucano is considerably inferior to all US front-line fighters of WWII. And not close to the Mustang. While it's fun to compare, it's also not relevant to the Tucano's intended role.

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SJE January 3, 2012 at 9:15 am

The performance of a bayonet is not much different than a metal-tipped spear, which people have been using for 1000s of years. But, its still a good tool for a messy job, and has the benefit of being cheap, reliable and simple. The same can be said for props for COIN. You don't need an F-22 or an A-10 to attack some Taliban hiding in an orchard.

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William C. January 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Why would every state need a squadron? When it comes to CONUS need for them anywhere but along the border with Mexico, where they could certainly be useful.

Flying one of these doesn't give any experience with flying the F-15 or F-16. For basic pilot training we have plenty of T-6 Texan IIs. If you want pilots to be proficiency in the aircraft their fighter wings are equipped with, they'll have to be flying those far more often than just on emergency occasions.

Of course I wouldn't argue with my state ANG unit flying these instead of those C-21s that they've been flying since they lost their A-10s.

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SJE January 2, 2012 at 10:20 am

Exactly.

A-10 is an awesome plane, but you don't need a titanium bathtub, 30mm cannon with DU rounds and $1000s/hr operating costs to shoot up some guys in a mud hut or a pickup truck.

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major.rod January 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Good points Rodrigo. How do you get to write so much in one post?

Foreign money is nice. US money, company production is better (For the US).

If we are going to "give" this airplane away it would be nice to have the client have to come to us for parts vs. Brazil which could differ with us foreign policy wise.

I would differ that it's the best option worldwide. Seems a bit early to say that based on one country's combat experience (Columbia). A stronger case would be listing the performance specs next to each other including cost and that the Air force flies AT6B's also.

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Belesari January 2, 2012 at 11:32 am

With around 3,000lbs of payload. COIN planes don't need to be real manuverable. Just have alot of range and a good payload.

Ironicly that crop duster uses the same engine and gets Does this by the way with a engine that is just barely more powerful 1,200kw-1,193kw.

It also is a far more robust aircraft and would be cheaper to operate as well as but.

SO. Really in the COIN role the AT-802U comes out above either the TEXAN or the Tucano…..but then this is a airforce thing so it must go by the guideline of sexy and inefficent.

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Nicky January 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Think of it this way, a squadron of A-29 would be perfect for the Air Guard in Pilot training, CONUS training, COIN and Border patrol. Plus side is that each state can keep a flyable aircraft as well.

It would also allow pilots to keep up with their flight hours and keep some training stateside and at home as well. It's cheaper to fly per hour vs flying an F-16 or F-15 per hour. That money we saved from the A-29, could be used down the road for the F-16 or F-15 in case we need to go overseas.

Also, what state wouldn't mind having an A-29 Super Tucano that can help in so many areas such as ISR, COIN, CONUS patrol, border patrol and even some basic pilot training as well.

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tac airlifter January 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Nicky, you have no idea what you are talking about. I appreciate the good idea juice you've been drinking, but the idea the fighter guys would be helped by practicing on a different aircraft with a different mission set (not to mention your cluelessness about funding) shows you're way out of your lane and don't have any idea how these programs work. These comments apply the other 95% of you clowns as well.

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William C. January 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I like the good intentions but flying these won't help pilots master their F-15s or F-16s. Sure it would provide some basic flying practice, but nothing in regards to the operation of the systems and avionics of those fighters. I've heard some claim that ANG pilots already don't get enough flight-time in their aircraft. Cutting back further wouldn't help even if they got to fly the A-29 on occasion.

I presume we have enough T-6 Texan II trainers, but I suppose the A-29 could supplement them if need-be.

But is there a use for these along the border? Definitely.

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tiger January 3, 2012 at 12:08 am

One is a established design vs. upgrading a trainer. There is a comparsion link further up this thread.

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Gunny J January 3, 2012 at 12:20 am

Not to mention pot patrol.

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SJE January 3, 2012 at 11:50 am

I would like to have seen more development of the AT: it is a proven to be durable, able to use dirt runways, and excellent at going low and slow in attacking the ground (even if that was for crops). OTOH, AT has not been combat proven.

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The_Hand January 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm

The thing with the AT is it's reeaalllly slllooooowwwww. I know speed isn't the top requirement for COIN but at the same time you do want your air support to get to the fight in an expedient fashion.

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m167a1 January 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm

If you want to go all WWII then get a P47 or a gun nosed B-25.

The Tucano is as good a light COIN aircraft as exists today. I would prefer a twin ala OV-10 or Pucara but if you hang some fancy night optics on this it will do the job.

The Jarheads had a nice night OV-10 with a turret that was impressive.

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FormerDirtDart January 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I say go A-26 Invader over a B-25

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tiger January 3, 2012 at 5:04 pm

It's crop duster. No speed, Can not break Angels 20, No ejection seats, poor vision cockpit.

A plane built for the job will always be better than some ad hoc prototype.

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major.rod January 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm

yes it was written by embraer. I wonder how that's going to turn out?

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major.rod January 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Uh, let's see how the F18 sale goes and we'll revisit your theory.

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stef January 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm

The performance of the Super Tucano is way superior since it got plenty of electronics, optics, radars and smart weapons that did not even exist in dream in WW2

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major.rod January 4, 2012 at 12:56 am

I've looked at that graphic. It is a bit misleading e.g. wheel base is wider but heck Tocano's a longer plane. A B2 also has a larger wheel base. The Tocano doesn't clearly outclass the AT6B or justifies a 70% greater sticker price. BTW, the AT6B has a longer endurance (300 mi). When you stack numbers against numbers (not picture against picture) the planes are about the same. Beauty counts in Samba contests. The numbers don't lie.

If its petty cash what's the big deal about winning the contract? Silly point. Your Canada point holds a little bit of water though most of the production is US and Beechcraft is a US company. I'm a little partial to Canada. They sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. Brazil hasn't been all that supportive with our squabbles with Chavez..

Not really concerned with US lobbying power. If Brazil wants to buy second best they can. I agree its silly for the US to buy Brazilian just in the hopes to get the Brazilians to buy. Another reason to buy "US" made.

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major.rod January 4, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I'm not going to pursue the geopolitical points. This thread is about an airplane. I answered the issues you raised. If you want to continue I will but Brazil is not as gooad an ally as Canada and that's not Canada's fault.

Yes one could pull the guns on the ST. One could also beef up the tires on the AT6. My point was and remains the ST (a great plane) doesn't outclass the AT6 , the highly touted graphic is salesmanship and the AT6 is a lot cheaper for a largely American product. You have your poverty issues. We have an employment one.

Happy 2012!

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