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 counter-insurgency type scenarios. The A-29 was initially a contender for the Air Force’s Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) requirement for approximately 100 aircraft which 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. The AT-6s assigned to ACC at Nellis will support tactics development and testing, while the A-29s slated for AFSOC will form the basis of a Combat Aviation Advisor and SOF-support capability.
USSOCOM is simultaneously looking to replace its AFSOC-operated U-28A fleet with as many as 75 enhanced capability “armed overwatch” aircraft. Congress, however, banned funding the effort through FY23 pending study and justification.
AETC’s 81st Fighter Squadron also operated the A-29 as part of the Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air) training of Afghan Air Force crews at Moody. USAF handed-off training to the AAF, graduating its final class of pilots in November 2020. A total of 13 countries operate the A-29 world-wide. All three AFSOC aircraft are slated for delivery in 2021.
Contractor: Sierra Nevada Corp.
First Flight: June 2, 1999.
Delivered: Feb. 23, 2021-present.
Production: Three (planned).
Operator: AETC (AAF); Planned: AFSOC.
Aircraft Location: Moody AFB, Ga. Planned: Hurlburt Field, Fla.
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.