Seeking 100 Quick-Turn IW Aircraft

The Air Force wants to find a fixed-wing light attack/armed reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft that it can field beginning in Fiscal 2012. Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, issued a capability request for information last week to “explore cost effective options” to fill a need for 100 such aircraft. This aircraft must be able to operate from dirt fields at forward operating locations where the pilots will find jet fuel and not much else. According to the announcement, “the aircraft must be capable of employing a variety of air-to-ground weapons and munitions,” including aerial gunnery, at least two 500-pound class precision munitions, 2.75-inch rockets, and flares. This new irregular warfare aircraft is to have dual, tandem seats with dual controls for both pilots, enabling it to function as either a combat or training aircraft, and its supposed to be armored against small-arms fire. There’s no indication whether this platform would fill the new light gunship capability desired by special operators. USAF has said it’s investigating several platforms, but US Special Operations Command in late June said it still wanted a C-27 gunship. According to the announcement, the service would like to achieve initial operating capability with the LAAR aircraft in Fiscal 2013.