AF Senior Leaders, International Visitors Observe Light Attack Experiment
(Source: Air Combat Command; issued Aug 09, 2017)
A Beechcraft AT-6 armed trainer flies over White Sands Missile Range. It is one of four aircraft types participating in the U.S. Air Force Light Attack Experiment (OA-X), a series of trials to determine the feasibility of using light aircraft in attack roles. (USAF photo)
WASHINGTON --- Air Force senior leaders and international visitors gathered at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, to observe the ongoing Light Attack Experiment Aug. 9, 2017.

During the first week of the experiment, Air Force pilots flew basic surface attack missions in Textron Aviation’s AT-6 Wolverine turboprop, as well as in Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano.

“We’re experimenting and innovating, and we’re doing it in new and faster ways,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “Experiments like these help drive innovation and play a key role in enhancing the lethality of our force.”

Air Force pilots also completed familiarization flights in Textron Aviation’s Scorpion jet, as well as in Air Tractor Inc. and L3 Platform Integration Division’s AT-802L Longsword.

Pilots will continue to fly the four aircraft through a range of combat mission scenarios during the live-fly experiment to evaluate each platform’s military utility. The live-fly experiment is part of a broader Air Force effort to explore cost-effective attack platform options under the Light Attack Experimentation Campaign run by the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

“This experiment is about looking at new ways to improve readiness and lethality,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein. “Working with industry, and building on the Combat Dragon series of tests, we are determining whether a commercial off-the-shelf aircraft and sensor package can contribute to the coalition fight against violent extremism. I appreciate industry's willingness to show us what they have to offer.”

The Air Force established vendor parameters in the initial invitation-to-participate earlier this year. Industry members were asked to propose aircraft that could potentially meet an Air Force need for a low-cost capability that is supportable and sustainable.

Scenarios during the experiment are designed to highlight aspects of various combat missions, such as close air support, air interdiction, combat search and rescue and strike coordination and reconnaissance. The experiment includes the use of weapons generally used on fighter and attack aircraft to evaluate the participating aircraft’s ability to execute traditional counter-land missions.


Click here for additional photos and videos of the Light Attack Experiment, on the Pentagon’s DvidsHub website.

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Statement by SASC Chairman John McCain on light attack experiment at Holloman air force base, New Mexico
(Source: Senator John McCain; issued Aug. 9, 2017)
WASHINGTON, D.C. –-- U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today on the light attack experiment at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico:

“The light attack experiment at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico provides an example for how rapid acquisition and experimentation can help our military procure the needed capabilities more quickly, more efficiently, and more affordably than we have in the past. Our adversaries are modernizing to deploy future capabilities aimed at eroding the U.S. military advantage--and reversing that trend will require a new, innovative approach to acquisition and procurement.

“I am encouraged to see the Air Force using the rapid acquisition authorities that Congress has given the Department of Defense in recent defense authorization bills. The light attack aircraft will be an integral part of building our military capacity to combat current threats, and this experiment is a new model for quickly getting our warfighters the capabilities they need to bring the fight to the enemy.

“I have been a strong advocate of the light attack concept and recommended the program in my report, ‘Restoring American Power.’ The Senate Armed Services Committee has been supportive as well and included $1.2 billion in authorized spending for the program in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.”

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