A Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft crashed over the Red Rio Bombing Range at approximately 11:30 a.m. MDT on June 22, 2018, during a training flight as part of the U.S. Air Force’s Light Attack Experiment (OA-X) program.
One U.S. Navy pilot was killed in the incident and was identified as Lt. Christopher Carey Short from Canandaigua, New York. Another crew member suffered minor injuries and was airlifted to a local hospital.
“There’s no way to to describe the shock of this loss and the sadness we feel for his family,” said Col. Houston Cantwell, commander of Holloman’s 49th Wing. “He did pioneering work in aviation that will help shape American air power for years to come. We’re thankful to have known him and grateful for his devotion to duty.”
The crash is currently under investigation, and no cause has been determined at this time.
Fire and police units from the White Sands Missile Range Directorate of Emergency Services initially responded to the report of the crash. The ground-based military exercise scheduled for the evening had been canceled due to the crash.
The Red Rio Bombing Range is part of the White Sands Missile Range, a U.S. Army installation and the Department of Defense’s largest, open-air test range. It is just 65 miles north of the Holloman Air Force .
The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, also named ALX or A-29, is a Brazilian two-seat turboprop light attack and trainer aircraft designed and built by Embraer as a development of the Embraer EMB 312 Tucano.
USAF Light Attack Experiment (OA-X) Competition
On May 7, the U.S. Air Force kicked off the second phase of the Light Attack Experiment at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.
Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and the Textron Aviation AT-6B Wolverine turboprops were selected for the second phase which involve a three-month, live-fly experiment to gather additional information about aircraft capabilities, as well as partner nation interoperability, prior to a potential light attack purchase.
The experiment is part of a broader Air Force effort to explore cost-effective attack platform options under the Light Attack Experimentation Campaign led by the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
The first phase of the Light Attack Experiment took place in August 2017 at Holloman AFB, with four models of light attack aircraft which also included L3/AirTractor AT-802L Longsword and Textron AirLand Scorpion.