VLJs Catch Military's Eye
Everyone likes to save a buck and if very light jets (VLJs) can stretch Uncle Sam's defense budget then the Air Force wants to know about it. The Air Force's Acquisition Center of Excellence has issued a Capability Request for Information urging VLJ manufacturers to show their stuff. The Air Force classifies VLJs as those with a maximum takeoff weight of no more than 10,000 pounds and "a commercial list price of much less than $5 million." Well, if everything goes according to plan there'll be no shortage of candidates for future military work as Eclipse, Cessna, Adam and Aircraft Technology Group (ATG) get ready to start delivering aircraft over the next year or two. The Air Force has already identified a host of potential roles the little jets could fill. Among the uses envisioned by Air Force brass are as passenger and cargo transports, and for navigation and transition training, homeland security, surveillance and target towing. At least one manufacturer has already identified the military as a prime market. ATG, which recently started flying its fighter-like Javelin prototype, plans to build a military version with ejection seats and military avionics. If the manufacturers have any other ideas on what military roles their planes could potentially fill, they're asked to include them in their response. The Air Force hopes to do some flight-testing of VLJs by the end of this year.