The U.S. Air Force has narrowed the field in the competition for its new light attack aircraft to just two, the AT-6 Wolverine and A-29 Super Tucano, eliminating the Textron Scorpion and L-3 Longsword, a militarized Air Tractor 802 aerial application aircraft. It’s also canceled plans to test the aircraft in combat. “Rather than do a combat demonstration, we have decided to work closely with industry to experiment with maintenance, data networking and sensors with the two most promising light attack aircraft — the AT-6 Wolverine and the A-29 Super Tucano,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said. “This will let us gather the data needed for a rapid procurement.”
The Air Force hopes the winner of the competition will be able to help out in close support roles in anti-terrorism and counter-insurgent roles now undertaken by much more expensive platforms like the A-10 and F-16. The new aircraft will also make it easier to cooperate with allies in the fight against terrorism because many of the countries on the front lines can’t afford the jets the U.S. flies.