SPARKS, Nev. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- When Gen. Charles F. “Chuck” Wald emerged from a test flight in the A-29 Super Tucano his first comment was, “this is an awesome 21st century airplane.” The retired four-star general and decorated combat pilot has a keen appreciation for how an aircraft handles. Moreover, as one of the top military leaders responsible for planning and executing Operation Enduring Freedom and serving as Air Commander for the initial stages of the war, Gen. Wald knows what an aircraft like the A-29 Super Tucano would mean on the ground in Afghanistan.
“I think if we’d had this in the inventory at the beginning of Afghanistan, it would have led the way for all the things we are doing there,” he said. “It’s not for a high-threat environment, but Afghanistan isn’t. It’s for close air support and staying close to the target. It has a lot of endurance.”
Gen. Wald tried out the aircraft – a contender in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Light Air Support (LAS) competition offered by Sierra Nevada Corporation in partnership with Embraer. He compared the A-29 Super Tucano to an F-16 in terms of handling, capabilities, displays and navigation. Where the similarities end, he said, was cost. “This airplane doesn’t cost anything like an F-16 in terms of initial cost, fuel or maintenance. This is an affordable aircraft that gives you F-16-type delivery performance.”
The aircraft selected for the LAS program initially will be used to provide close air support, reconnaissance and training capabilities to the Afghanistan military. As such, it is a critical element of the United States’ Afghan withdrawal strategy and central to maintaining security in that region going forward. The LAS program also will provide the United States and other partner nations with critical capabilities for agile, flexible, economical, new generation multi-role airpower.
The A-29 Super Tucano is a relatively small, sleek, and powerful turboprop aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of missions, including close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The aircraft is in use with seven air forces around the world and, for more than five years, has employed state-of-the-art munitions in real operational missions. The aircraft is equipped with advanced electronic, electro-optic, infrared and laser system technologies, as well as secure radio systems with data links and unrivalled munitions capacity. This makes it highly reliable and allows for an excellent cost-benefit ratio for a wide range of military missions, even operating from unpaved runways and in hostile environments. These characteristics along with the fact that the aircraft has a proven combat record make it the leading contender for the LAS contract.
During his test flight, Gen. Wald put the aircraft through its paces. “It handled beautifully,” he said. “I didn’t have to worry about a lot of rudder. It powered up and came through the loop at 4Gs no sweat. I didn’t have any problems going over the top.”
In summary, Gen. Wald said: “Easy to fly. Easy to maneuver. I think it’s perfect.”
Facts about the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano:
Learn more at www.BuiltfortheMission.com.
About Sierra Nevada Corporation
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is one of America’s fastest growing private companies. Under the leadership of CEO Fatih Ozmen and President Eren Ozmen, SNC employs over 2,300 people in 32 locations in 17 states. SNC’s six unique business areas are dedicated to providing leading-edge technology solutions to SNC’s customers. For more information visit www.sncorp.com.