McCain praises Air Force light-attack experiment

By Courtney Albon / August 9, 2017 at 3:24 PM

Three industry teams are putting their light-attack capabilities on display this week during an experimentation exercise at Holloman Air Force Base, NM.

Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer are teaming to offer the A-29 Super Tucano, Textron will offer the Scorpion jet and subsidiary Beechcraft's AT-6, and L3 and Air Tractor are flying the AT-802L Longsword. The jets will perform a number of exercises to prove their light-attack capabilities and inform the Air Force as it determines whether it will pursue a program of record.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), a proponent of the effort, said in an Aug. 9 statement the exercise "provides an example for how rapid acquisition and experimentation can help our military procure the needed capabilities more quickly, more efficiently, and more affordably."

"I am encouraged to see the Air Force using the rapid acquisition authorities that Congress has given the Department of Defense in recent defense authorization bills," McCain said. "The light-attack aircraft will be an integral part of building our military capacity to combat current threats, and this experiment is a new model for quickly getting our warfighters the capabilities they need to bring the fight to the enemy."

The Senate's fiscal year 2018 defense policy bill proposes $1.2 billion for the service to begin procuring light-attack jets by 2022. McCain has proposed the service buy 300 new low-end fighters to operate in permissive environments.