The newly formed company Bronco Combat Systems (BCS) is proposing a variant of the Paramount Group AHRLAC, designated Bronco II, for the American market, including the U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) lightweight ground-attack aircraft program, the OA-X.
Named after the OV-10 Bronco, a twin-engine turboprop aircraft designed for counterinsurgency (COIN) operations, the Bronco II is based on the AHRLAC aircraft platform, but with U.S. subsystems and weapons.
“Bronco II was designed with the US market in mind; it contains significant American content and we are now excited to be able to commit to bringing full production of the aircraft home to the USA,” said the Chairman of Paramount Group, Ivor Ichikowitz, on 21 February.
BCS was formed as a US company. Its partners are Paramount Group USA, Fulcrum Concepts LLC and the Aerospace Development Corporation. Fulcrum Concepts LLC will undertake the Bronco II’s weapon and subsystems integration work. BCS will manufacture the Bronco II in the U.S.
Earlier in February, Paramount Group announced that the production site for the AHRLAC is ready and it will begin serial production for several undisclosed launch customers. The AHRLAC is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engine, providing it a cruise speed of 500 km/h and range of 2,000 km.
The USAF began to test current lightweight close air support (CAS) aircraft at Holloman Air Base in summer 2017 with the aim of experimenting with the concept of fielding such aircraft.
Under the OA-X program, the USAF intends to reduce the operational costs of fielding attack aircraft in its COIN operations, namely in environments with limited-to-non-existing anti-air warfare (AAW) threats (i.e. not necessitating fast jets such as the F-16 and F-15).
“A light-attack aircraft would not only provide relief to our fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft, but also bolster our interoperability, so we can more effectively employ airpower as an international team,” said Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.
Thus far, the OA-X drew upon tested off-the-shelf aircraft, such as the Embraer-Sierra Nevada Corporation A-29 Super Tucano and Textron Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine alongside new designs such as the Textron AirLand Scorpion. The USAF narrowed the OA-X to the AT-6 and A-29, though it is unclear how this will impact (besides ostensibly extending tests for turboprop aircraft) the actual procurement bid.