After studying the concept for over a decade, the Air Force this summer will host a flight demonstration to determine whether off-the-shelf light attack aircraft have anything useful to offer in the way of future capabilities. Officials are thinking mainly of low-cost, slow-moving turboprops equipped for close air support. The idea doesn’t make much sense. First, turboprops won’t survive operation in most places worth going. Second, the Air Force already has a host of other aircraft available for the mission that are more capable. Third, rather than saving money, OA-X (as it is called) will cost the Air Force money it doesn’t have for the next decade or so. Fourth, even in uncontested air space, jets offer numerous performance advantages over turboprops in performing close air support. Finally, the global war on terror seems to be winding down, while the threat of high-end combat with near-peers is growing. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
Find Archived Articles: