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Super Tucano Enters Air Force Light Attack Demonstration

The A-29 Super Tucano turboprop will join the U.S. Air Force's light attack aircraft demonstration this summer, industry officials said.

The aircraft, called the EMB 314 and made by the Brazilian defense firm Embraer S.A. in partnership with Sierra Nevada Corp., is the same type being purchased by the U.S. government for the Afghan air force.

Sierra Nevada on Friday announced the Super Tucano will participate in the event, dubbed OA-X and set to take place in July at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

It will join at least two other aircraft already slated to fly: the Scorpion made by Textron and AirLand LLC, and the AT-6B Wolverine, an armed version of the T-6 Texan II made by Textron's Beechcraft Corp. unit and Raytheon Co., according to a release last month from Textron.

"We have cleared the companies if they want to announce that they have been invited to participate, they're cleared to do that," Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, told reporters on Monday.

The Air Force is working to sign something called Other Transactions Authority, or OTAs, so that the companies know they will "pay and share the cost in delivering what ... we need," he said.

RELATED: Air Force to Invite Firms to Show Off OA-X Light-Attack Aircraft

The Pentagon often uses such documents for prototype projects. They stipulate that the government and a contractor will enter into a pact other than a contract, grant or cooperative agreement.

"This is taking a different approach in that we're opening to industry to bring in what is readily available [and] show us what the art of the possible is so that we can get an understanding of where is industry in that development, what technologies are out there, and how ready would they be to manufacture something if they wanted to," Bunch said.

The general emphasized that the effort is not a formal acquisition program.

"We want to see some demonstrations of some capabilities ... and rough estimates of the performance of it so that we can determine how we could operate such a vehicle," he said. "We'll collect all those data in, and make a determination."

The first phase of the demonstration and surveying the data is expected to be completed by the end of the year, Bunch said.

The Air Force distributed formal invitations to the fly-off in March.

At the time, Bunch said, "We need to look and see if there are ways to save costs and do this in an efficient and effective manner ... [and] it could create a building partnership capacity. Not every nation we want to build a partnership with needs and F-16 or an F-35."

Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and other leaders have said the light attack plane would not replace the service's beloved A-10 Warthog.

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