A-29 Super Tucano

The A-29 Super Tucano is a turboprop light attack/armed reconnaissance aircraft designed by Embraer in Brazil and built under license by Sierra Nevada Corp.

USAF has long sought a cost-effective, manned light CAS/tactical ISR platform for operations in permissive counterinsurgency scenarios. The A-29 was initially a contender for the Air Force’s Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) requirement for approximately 100 aircraft that fell prey to budget cuts a decade ago.

The service launched a renewed effort in 2017, kicking off the Light Attack Experiment (OA-X) to rapidly evaluate off-the-shelf CAS/ISR platforms to relieve pressure on existing, higher-cost fleets such as the A-10 and F-16. A fatal A-29 crash abruptly ended the flight segment of evaluations at Holloman on June 22, 2018.

Trials, however, yielded sufficient data for USAF to opt for two AT-6Bs, and two—later increased to three—A-29s to form a Combat Aviation Advisor and SOF-support capability. The A-29 was not selected as one of the five aircraft USSCOM evaluated to replace the AFSOCoperated U-28A fleet, ultimately won by the AT-802U Sky Warden. AETC’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody also operated the A-29, initially training Afghan Air Force crews. The unit further trained a total of 64 Nigerian Air Force pilots through September 2021, supporting the sale of 12 A-29s to Nigeria. A total of 15 countries operate the type worldwide. Sierra Nevada delivered all three aircraft to Hurlburt in early 2021, though the Air Force now considers the aircraft excess to need and plans to offer the airframes for foreign military sale.

Contractor: Sierra Nevada Corp.
First Flight: June 2, 1999.
Delivered: Feb. 23, 2021-present.
Production: Three.
Inventory: Three.
Operator: AETC, AFSOC.
Aircraft Location: Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Moody AFB, Ga.
Active Variant: •A-29 Super Tucano. License-built version of the Embraer EMB-314 light attack aircraft.
Dimensions: Span 36.5 ft, length 37.3 ft, height 13 ft.
Weight: Max T-O 11,905 lb.
Power Plant: One Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68C turboprop, 1,604 shp.
Performance: Speed 368 mph, range 1,900 miles (with wing-mounted external tanks).
Ceiling: 35,000 ft.
Armament: Two internal wing-mounted .50-caliber machine guns (200 rd each), up to 3,714 lb of external weapons on four wing and one centerline station.
Accommodation: Two aircrew on Martin Baker MK10 zero/zero ejection seats.

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