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Offline Ex-Dragoon

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Prop driven attack aircraft coming back?
« on: March 15, 2009, 19:58:56 »
from Defence

U.S. Eyes Super Tucano for SpecOps Work
By andrew scutro
Published: 13 Mar 19:11 EDT (23:11 GMT)
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The U.S. Navy's new Irregular Warfare office has been looking at an agile Brazilian observation and ground-attack turboprop to provide an "organic" close air support aircraft for special operations forces.
The Irregular Warfare office of the U.S. Navy has tested the Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano, shown here in Bogota, Colombia, in December 2006, for use on special-operations missions. (MAURICIO DUENAS / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE)

Under the classified "Imminent Fury" program, the Navy has already leased, tested and armed at least one Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano, according to Capt. Mark Mullins, a naval special warfare officer serving as the deputy director of the Navy Irregular Warfare Office at the Pentagon.
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"This is a close air support, manned aircraft with a pilot and sensor operator. The idea here is that SOF needs an organic capability that can stick with them while they're doing their mission," Mullins said. "We're not buying them; we're leasing them right now. That's an important point."

Speaking March 12 at an exposition on expeditionary warfare in Virginia Beach, Va., Mullins said the intent is to put four of the single-engine aircraft into the fight as quickly as possible.

"Now we're in an operational pause, trying to figure out how to get to Phase II. We need about $44 million," he said. "Back to the method of venture capitalism, we're working with the Air Force and Marine Corps, socializing it with those guys to see if we can get money invested and get to Phase II, where we're taking four aircraft into theater."

The EMB-314 is flown by the military forces of Brazil and Colombia, according to Christine Manna, communications director at Embraer's office for North America in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

As well, Manna said, Chile bought 12 planes and the Dominican Republic bought eight, but the planes have not been delivered yet.

The Super Tucano has a flight endurance of more than six hours, carries several sensors, can be armed with a heavy machine gun in each wing and has mounts for bombs, cannon and rocket pods, according to Jane's All the World's Aircraft 2008-9.

Calling it a "fascinating piece of kit," Mullins said "the proof of concept" is complete after a year of testing. But he described Imminent Fury as his new office's "most contentious project," mostly due to wariness from naval aviation.

"You can imagine the SOF guys and Marines really love this," he said. "The challenge here, and why it's so contentious, is it falls into the seam where it's really not clear whose bailiwick it is. It's not a marinized aircraft. It doesn't fly off the carrier."

Mullins said the Super Tucano can be landed on an unimproved airstrip such as a road, refueled in minutes and sent right back into the fray.

A briefing slide on the Imminent Fury project obtained by Defense News sister publication Navy Times identifies the need for a "tactical fixed wing [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] platform to provide expeditionary, organic Find/Fix/Finish operations for SOF Forces in a maneuverable, long range, low heat signature platform."

The project began following a visit by Navy Secretary Donald Winter with naval special warfare task forces in the Central Command area in October 2007, according to a similar brief.

"It's not about flying in from 1,000 miles away, dropping some thousand-pound bombs and leaving," Mullins said. "It's about working with [the ground force], doing the intelligence preparation of the battlespace, doing a [communication] relay, close air support, eyes on target and if there's squirters leaving the target, keeping up with them and tracking them down and doing [bomb damage assessment] at the end."

Although Mullins said the project is awaiting funding to move forward, a slide in Mullins' presentation indicated it's sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Naval Air Systems Command and the Navy.

"Imminent Fury is a classified Navy initiative to address urgent warfighter needs," said Lt. Sean Robertson, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon. "Initial developmental testing has been promising, and the Navy is currently conducting discussions with our Joint partners on various courses of action as this initiative moves forward."

Mullins delivered an unclassified brief, but details of Imminent Fury remain classified, Robertson said.

The Irregular Warfare office, part of the Navy staff at the Pentagon, was established in July under the direction of Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations. It's headed by Rear Adm. Mark Kenny, a submariner.

"Our goal is to rapidly deliver capabilities and effects," Mullins said. "And we are the CNO's lead for irregular warfare."
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Offline S.M.A.

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Re: Prop driven attack aircraft coming back?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2009, 10:11:05 »
An update that fits with this topic, since the Super Tucano is mentioned:


Secret Program Works to Field SEAL Plane
July 21, 2009|by Christian Lowe

In a move that harkens back to the days of recycled World War II torpedo bombers sheep-dipped as close air support planes, the Navy intends to field a limited number of turbo-prop attack planes outfitted with the most modern surveillance, tracking and weapons systems to help special ops forces keep track of bad guys and, in a pinch, put warheads on foreheads.
Call it an AH-1 Skyraider on steroids – a “Back to the Future”-resurrection of a kind of plane last seen pounding enemy positions with rockets, guns and bombs over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1960s.
Code named “Imminent Fury,” the classified, year-long program has so far produced one fully-outfitted plane and is set to field four more to directly support SEALs and other operators on the battlefield in Afghanistan.
According to a source close to the program who declined to be named, the Navy has leased an EMB-314 Super Tucano for the job. Made by the Brazilian aerospace company Embraer, it is now being tested  on desert ranges in California and the service’s top test facility at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. The Navy loaded it up with sensors and weapons systems that “would make an F-16 pilot blush,” the source said.

With top end electro-optical and infrared sensors, laser and GPS-guided bombs, rockets, twin .50 cal. machine guns, encrypted radios – and even the capability to tie in UAV surveillance feeds – the Super Tucano outfitted for the SEALs is a ground-pounder’s angel from above. contacted the Navy for comment on this story, but despite a detailed public briefing on the program in March by a high-ranking program official, the service declined to elaborate on the program other than to say in a written statement: “Imminent Fury is a classified Navy initiative to address urgent warfighter needs. Initial developmental testing has been promising and the Navy is currently conducting discussions with our Joint partners on various courses of action as this initiative moves forward.”
News of the Imminent Fury program comes as commanders in Afghanistan wrestle with the persistent problem of civilian casualties resulting from errant or mistaken bomb strikes – typically from aircraft high above the battlefield.
A recent investigation report on a high-profile friendly-fire incident in Farah province showed that high-altitude B-1 bombers had little ability to discriminate enemy from civilians during several bombings in support of Marine spec ops forces under Taliban assault.
Many argue that low-altitude aircraft that can fly for long periods over combat zones loaded with various weapons are needed to avoid such incidents. For advocates of the Imminent Fury program, the Super Tucano – with its five-hour endurance – fits the bill for a so-called “counter insurgency aircraft.”
“The SEALs said ‘we want a persistent capability at low cost, small footprint and turbo-prop aircraft to do armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions,’ ” the source close to the program said. “Everyone who gets briefed on this program has been blown away.”
Over the past year, both Navy and Air Force pilots have flown the leased Super Tucano in tests. According to the source, the single-engine, two-pilot plane has successfully dropped both laser and GPS guided bombs, as well as a wide range of guided and unguided rockets.
According to statistics from an Embraer brochure, the EMB-314 has a maximum speed of nearly 370 mph and a maximum ceiling of 35,000 feet. The plane can take off and land in just under 3,000 feet and can carry a maximum load of nearly 3,500 pounds.
The initial cadre of four SEAL-supporting Super Tucanos will be flown by Navy pilots activated as individual augmentees, and multiple sources close to the program report that aviators are clamoring to get involved with the program.
But it is still unclear whether Imminent Fury will get off the ground since funding for the program is in doubt. Sources say there is no money earmarked for the program in the 2010 budget but that the service “is hoping for some reprogramming authority” to move funds from other accounts to buy the four planes requested by the SEALs.
(Photo: Embraer Defense Systems)
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 10:16:58 by CougarDaddy »
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