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COIN Air Wing in the Wings

The Air Force looks as if it has punted the establishment of a COIN Wing (though we’ll see when the authorization process starts) based on its budget submission yesterday.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, the service's chief of staff, had floated the idea of a COIN air wing in April last year. He told DoDBuzz at the Air Force Association conference that the wing would have to wait, but he provided no details as to how long the wait might be.

Now we have Air Force budget officials saying the so-​​called “light attack aircraft” would not have any significant funding until the 2012 submission, where the service will allot $172 million for the so-​​called COIN plane.

The Air Force did, however, take a step toward a COIN wing by ordering up 15 Light Mobility Aircraft to the tune of nearly $66 million. According to a submission to FedBizOpps, the LiMA must be able to carry a minimum of six pax and crew, operate from “austere landing surfaces” and carry a minimum of 1800 pounds with crew. The plane needs a loading door that can take litters and a 36 inch warehouse skid and have two pilot stations but be able to be flown by one pilot.

The Air Force is budgeting for these planes in FY 2011 only. And part of the idea behind the plane is to help train other air forces during counterinsurgency operations.

The Light Mobility Aircraft (LiMA) program will acquire Commercial-​​Off-​​The-​​Shelf (COTS) aircraft to satisfy the USAF light mobility mission requirement. These aircraft will be suitable for building partner capacity (BPC) especially in lesser developed partner nations (PN). This program supports irregular warfare efforts that help prepare PN to defend and govern themselves by demonstrating an airlift capability that is consistent with their needs for supporting infrastructure, performance, anticipated methods of employment, acquisition and sustainment costs, and multi-​​role/​multi-​​mission capability.

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