The United States Air Force has chosen to not have a fly-off to select the best aircraft for troops in combat.
The reason given for no fly off between AT-6 and SuperTucano to Hill staff was is that it would take to much time. This was an on the record comment by an Air Force Major General during a Hill briefing.
Yet the same amount of time has been allotted in the “do-over” competition as was in the first LAS competition. There was a fly-off in the first LAS acquisition process even though, as reported in Inside the Air Force (07/30/2010), the terms of the ordinance delivery attack profile were “gamed” to favor HBC.
Afghan Light-Attack Plane Competition To Culminate With Major Flyoff
Few changes in updated requirements
One important change is that the “standard LAS combat mission” calls for the aircraft to strafe an enemy target with its .50-caliber machine guns while carrying two 500-pound GBU-12 bombs.
In the previous requirements document, the standard mission called for releasing one of the two GBU-12s, then strafing.
The change is critical because performing a strafing mission with two large bombs – which weigh more than 1,200 pounds when guidance systems are factored in – puts a great amount of stress on a small airframe, according to defense observers.
The aircraft would need adequate power to pull up while carrying the extra bomb during a strafing run.
A modified fly-off did occur and all reports were still that the SuperT was far superior.
However, that entire effort and results are not being allowed in new LAS selection process, nor are they being made public, even though USG taxpayer funds are paying for all this!
I stand very much behind my previously published observations about how the now Bankrupt HBC (backed by Goldman Sachs) was “faking it until you make it.”
The HBC AT-6, a developmental prototype, not-production ready, was honorably and rightfully eliminated in the first LAS competition. The SuprerTucano was awarded the contract and that decision was validated by a GAO study, with a finding about unacceptable risk with the AT-6.
YET without any real explanation a redo was ordered, which continues to squander the most precious commodity in war—–TIME.
This LAS ‘re-do” was ordered by the same command that was allowed to perform an as yet unreleased investigation of themselves, and investigation of one self to self-validate makes no sense at all when public funds are involved.
However, taking the world as it is right now, both LAS team’s spokesman who are equally accomplished Air Force pilots-“Taco” Gilbert representing Sierra Nevada Corp/Embraer Air and “Turk” Hess representing Goldman Sachs, Onyx/ Hawker Beechcraft said in public that they would welcome a Fly-off.
This is great news and both men and their teams should be congratulated.
Imagine a flying competition capturing the attitude personified in the great book by Tom Wolfe-The Right Stuff.
The SuperTucano and AT-6 aircraft actually in a fly-off to determine the best— well why not?
In fact, invite USAF Combat Controllers, and some Army/Navy/Marine SOC leaders to see what the Afghan Army Air Force will be flying.
Make it open to the press so all Americans can see the USAF pioneer a successful end game in our disengagement from Afghanistan, by leaving the most capable aircraft behind in the hands of the Afghans fighting the Taliban.
This would be a very visible validation of airpower as an important way ahead for the US transition in Afghanistan.
But USAF Acquisition leaders have said no!
Consequently, it looks like America has just seen an historical shift in power and warfighting from
To a new reality.
It is a sad very sad day for a mighty service, and I will give a legendary aviator Pancho Barnes the last word.
Her attitude was interpreted by Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff that if someone wasn’t a test pilot flying at Edwards “he would be eyed like some goddamn mouseshit sheepherder from Shane.”
So Just Do It: A Flyoff with Winner Take ALL.