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Mon, Apr 01, 2013

LAS Contract To Be Decided By Dogfights

Best-Of-Three Series Planned Between Super Tucano And AT-6

ANN April 1 Special Coverage

The U.S. Air Force today announced that it will select its Light Air Support  (LAS) aircraft by holding a series of dogfights between the Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano and Beechcraft’s AT-6. The winner of two out of three contests will be awarded the contract to build 20 airplanes for use in Afghanistan.

One of the dogfights will be held in Florida near Jacksonville where Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp plan to build the Super Tucano. A second will be held in the skies over Wichita, KS, the home of Beechcraft. A third dogfight, if necessary, would be held at Edwards AFB in CA, … a site agreed to by the two companies as “neutral territory.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Ima Onthis said that each company is currently outfitting one airplane with laser-tag technology used by commercial dogfight operators popular around the country. Hits scored on the airplanes will be tallied by a by a computer in each of three 15-minute rounds per dogfight, and the airplane that scores the most hits will be named the winner of the round. The company which builds the winning airplane will be announced as the winner of the contract to build the planes. Critical hits will activate smoke canisters on the aircraft and disable non-critical systems, and that aircraft will be determined to be “shot down,” but ground crews will have a timed opportunity to  repair the systems to get the airplane flying again before the next round. If they are unable to fly, the other airplane will be named the winner of the dogfight.

In the event of a tie based on points after three rounds, the planes will be subjected to a series of challenges in which they will need to avoid ground fire during multiple strafing runs simulating actual combat conditions in Afghanistan.

“It seemed like the only fair way to actually judge the capabilities of the airplanes,” Onthis told ANN. “Both companies have agreed to abide by the outcome, which will mean no more lengthy and expensive challenges to delay the program. Each says they have the more capable airplane. It’s time for them to put up or shut up.”

No firm date for the dogfights has been released, but Ohthis said “we want to get this done quickly so that we can get needed airplanes to our warfighters in the field.

FMI: www.af.mil

 


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