Too Little for Too Much? Or A Lot for A Little? The Air Force OA-X Light-Attack Program
Center for Strategic and International Studies
April 10, 2019
Since July 31, 2017, the United States Air Force (USAF) has been testing the abilities of a “light attack” aircraft to more effectively manage its operating costs by better tailoring the force for low-intensity operations.

While the air force recently announced that the start of the competition for the OA-X contract has been postponed indefinitely, the two aircraft that had been under consideration were the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and the Textron/Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine. The addition of one of these aircraft is intended to reduce wear on the fleet of fifth-generation fighters (aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, which possess stealth qualities as well as advanced flight and weapons systems).

This program, designated OA-X, has generated significant debate surrounding the feasibility of safely using small propeller driven aircraft in combat zones. This discussion will provide and examination of the advantages and disadvantages of the OA-X program in comparison to the current USAF force structure.

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