Light Attack Funding Request

The US Air Force is requesting funding in the FY2017 supplemental budget request for a test and evaluation programme for its A-X (attack-experimental) light attack aircraft programme. The evaluation will aim to identify the potential of off-the-shelf designs that can provide an A-X capability and build on experience gained in a limited objective experiment dubbed Combat Dragon II programme.

In 2013, Combat Dragon II operated two 1960s-era Rockwell OV-10G+ Bronco aircraft; modified to be able to deliver current precision-guided munitions, with US Special Operations Command at Naval Air Station Fallon and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. In 2016, these aircraft were used on combat operations in the US Central Command area of operations as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Speaking in Washington DC on February 23, Air Force Chief of Staff, General David Goldfein said: “The next step of the process is to go to industry and say, OK, here are the operational outcomes of the Combat Dragon II. Show me what you’ve got. I’m looking for something we can get right now, commercial off the shelf, low cost, that can operate in an uncontested environment; deliver the capabilities we need that can also be something for, perhaps, our allies and partners.”

The A-X evaluation is planned to start in the current year as soon as funding can be appropriated.

David C Isby