USSOCOM to Award OTA Agreement for Armed Overwatch Prototype; Flight Demo in November

The U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is planning the award of an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) Agreement for the Armed Overwatch prototype program.

“The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), Directorate of Procurement, on behalf of USSOCOM Program Executive Office-Fixed Wing (PEO-FW), is considering the award of an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) Agreement for a Prototype Project for the Armed Overwatch Program (hereinafter “the OTA Agreement”)”, said the presolicitation notice posted on the Federal procurement website, beta.sam.gov.

The flight demonstrations of the selected prototypes are scheduled to occur in November 2020, the notice added.

The Armed Overwatch Program will provide the U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) with a  deployable, affordable, and sustainable manned aircraft system fulfilling Close Air Support (CAS), Armed Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (Armed ISR), Strike Coordination & Reconnaissance (SCAR), and Forward Air Controller (Airborne) (FAC(A)) requirements in austere and permissive environments for the Countering-Violent Extremist Organization (C-VEO) missions.



According to the Commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Lt. Gen. James Slife, the new Armed Overwatch aircraft will also eventually replace the AFSOC’s U-28 Draco intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft fleet.

This prototype project initiative will require demonstration of a prototype system evaluated against well-defined criteria for an Armed Overwatch Program. The USSOCOM Armed Overwatch Other Transaction (OT) for Prototype effort will consist of three phases:

+ Phase 1, white papers, will occur prior to the award of the OTA Agreement.
+ Phase 2, Offeror Deep Dives, will occur prior to award of the OTA Agreement, and the Government may down-select at the end of either or both phases.
+ For Phase 3, the Government intends to award an OTA Agreement to multiple contractors for competitive demonstration and evaluation.

The OTA Agreement will include a provision for a potential follow-on production contract to be awarded without additional competition. The follow-on contract is expected to be an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) with a base 5-year ordering period and a 2-year option ordering period and an estimated quantity of 75 aircraft with associated support.



USSOCOM’s Armed Overwatch program is similar to the U.S. Air Force’s previous Light Attack Experiment (OA-X) program.

The OA-X program was later cancelled by the Air Force with the service announcing the procurement of a limited number of Textron Aviation AT-6 Wolverine and Sierra Nevada Corporation/Embraer Defense & Security A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to be used as testbeds and not as prototypes for a potential larger buy. The contract for two A-29s was announced in February.

According to the Air Force:

The AT-6 Wolverine will 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 will be used at Hurlburt Field, Florida, by Air Force Special Operations Command to develop an instructor pilot program for the Combat Aviation Advisory mission, to meet increased partner nation requests for light attack assistance.

The AT-6 Wolverine and A-29 Super Tucano will also likely participate in the Armed Overwatch program.

Beechcraft AT-6B Wolverine
A Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine light attack aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Ethan D. Wagner)
Embraer EMB 314 A-29 Super Tucano
An Embraer EMB 314/A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Ethan D. Wagner)




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