Sierra Nevada Corporation Receives U.S. Air Force Contract for Two A-29 Super Tucano Light Attack Aircraft

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has been awarded an undefinitized contract action (UCA) by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for two A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft.

The UCA, with a not-to-exceed (NTE) value of around $129 million, provides for two light attack aircraft with associated contractor support and spares. This includes aircraft ground support equipment, pilot training (including difference training and instructor pilot upgrade training), contractor logistic support, aircraft sparing and sustainment for the Combat Air Advisor mission for Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8637-20-C-1000). Fiscal 2018 and 2019 production funds in the amount of $63 million are being obligated at the time of the award.

Work will be performed in Jacksonville, Florida and Centennial, Colorado. The aircraft will be delivered in 2021, and the training and support activities will continue through 2024.

“SNC is honored to build and deliver the combat-proven A-29 to the U.S. Air Force,” said Mark Williams, vice president of aviation strategic plans and programs for SNC’s IAS business area. “The U.S Air Force will now have the opportunity to deploy the A-29 in support of U.S. and allied operations. This acquisition provides long-overdue capabilities to the warfighter and best value to the U.S. taxpayer.”

A-29 Super Tucano

Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, also named ALX or A-29, is a turboprop light attack, combat and reconnaissance aircraft designed and built by Brazil’s Embraer as a development of the Embraer EMB 312 Tucano.

The A-29 Super Tucano carries a wide variety of weapons, including precision-guided munitions, and was designed to be a low-cost system operated in low-threat environments.

In addition to its manufacture in Brazil, Embraer has set up a production line in the United States in conjunction with Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) for the A-29’s many export customers. The A-29 is the only light attack aircraft in the world with a U.S. Air Force Military Type Certificate.

The A-29 has already been selected by 14 partner air forces around the world including Afghanistan and Lebanon to deliver cost-effective close air support (CAS) and reconnaissance capabilities. For more than a decade, U.S. Special Forces have sought to secure the A-29 for close air support and reconnaissance operations.

USAF Light Attack Aircraft Requirement

On Oct. 24, the U.S. Air Force released final requests for proposal (RFP) for a limited number of Textron Aviation AT-6 Wolverine and Sierra Nevada Corporation/Embraer Defense & Security A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft. It was announced at the time that, the Air Force “plans to purchase two to three light attack aircraft from each manufacturer to help support the National Defense Strategy’s focus on building allies and partner capacity, capability and interoperability via training and experimentation”.

The AT-6 Wolverine is to be used by Air Combat Command (ACC) at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for “continued testing and development of operational tactics and standards for exportable, tactical networks that improve interoperability with international partners”.

The A-29 Super Tucano is to be used at Hurlburt Field, Florida, by Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) to “develop an instructor pilot program for the Combat Aviation Advisory mission, to meet increased partner nation requests for light attack assistance”.

Both A-29 Super Tucano and the AT-6B Wolverine participated in the second phase of USAF’s Light Attack Experiment (OA-X) program at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico from May 7. The live-fly experiment, initially scheduled for three months, was suspended prematurely after the fatal crash of a Super Tucano on 22 June.

The second phase of the Light Attack Experiment was conducted to gather additional information about aircraft capabilities, as well as partner nation interoperability, prior to the purchase. The first phase of the 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.

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