The A-29 Super Tucano Light Attack Multi-Mission Aircraft. Affordable Combat Capability
September 13, 2022
Constantly evolving threats require adaptable platforms. As the global threat landscape shifts from counterinsurgency missions to peer/near-peer competition, militaries around the world continue to turn to the versatile capabilities offered by light attack aircraft like the A-29 Super Tucano to build partner nation capability and enhance combat Air to Ground Integration.
Considered the gold standard for light attack, combat and reconnaissance aircraft, the A-29 Super Tucano is built in the U.S. by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and its partner, Embraer Defense & Security. It’s an affordable and effective Combat-Proven solution around the world to perform critical missions on its own as well as in concert with both ISR and traditional fighter platforms.
As the prime contractor to the U.S. Air Force for all domestic and foreign military customer A-29 sales, SNC brings a level of expertise in delivering aircraft, mission systems and end-to-end training and sustainment solutions that few can match. After all, aircraft systems integration has been among the company’s key areas for most of its near-60-year history. In fact, SNC has extensive experience in modernization, design, integration, modification, test and certification across platforms ranging from the C-130 to the Pilatus PC-12 and the Dornier 328.
SNC manages the diverse configuration requirements for each A-29 customer fleet – which includes Air Forces on nearly every continent – through production, training, delivery and lifecycle sustainment with what it calls a Total Package Approach. This includes on-site and virtual Contractor Logistics Support (CLS), Sustainment Engineering, Pilot and Maintenance Training and post-delivery upgrades and enhancements through the life of the program. SNC also works directly with the USAF to manage the configuration and airworthiness of the aircraft.
The Super Tucano’s attributes of rugged, durable, low maintenance and unprepared surface capabilities, along with its unmatched affordability – just $1,500 per flight hour – have made this powerful turboprop the go-to light attack aircraft for 16 air forces worldwide. With a global fleet boasting over 500,000 flight hours and 60,000 combat hours, developing nations have grown to rely on the A-29. It is operable both day and night and the combination of its low acoustic signature with FLIR and other sensors give intelligence operators off the aircraft a tactical edge. This, combined with the A-29’s extensive munitions, have kept the turboprop flying in theaters around the world as a combat fighter/trainer and for counterinsurgency operations, drug interdiction and border surveillance for more than a decade.
“Through our experience in the previous war in Afghanistan, along with our work in locations like Lebanon, Nigeria and the U.S., we’ve learned that this aircraft can reliably and effectively operate in an extremely cost effective manner across a variety of missions for 20-25 years when properly maintained,” explained Ed Topps, senior vice president of programs for SNC’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance [ISR], Aviation and Security (IAS) business area. “The avionics are state of the art, the aircraft itself is aerodynamically stable, straight forward to fly and easy to operate, and the four-phase training program has seen pilots achieve proficiency very quickly, giving them the knowledge to not only operate the A-29 but to train other attack aircraft pilots. SNC’s training also includes how to integrate fixed wing attack aviation with other assets, either ground or airborne.”
These factors make the A-29 ideal for foreign military sales (FMS) markets. For militaries without the resources of the few global superpowers, the A-29’s unrivaled versatility and cost effectiveness means that partner nation forces have a platform capable of meeting mission requirements in even the most unfavorable conditions and harshest terrain. And as the first light attack aircraft in the world to have earned a U.S. Air Force Military Type Certificate (MTC), these customers can also have confidence in the SNC-enhanced A-29’s airworthiness.
With a multitude of capable aircraft platforms available on the market today, the A-29's proven effectiveness, affordability, versatility and support from the USAF make it a standout among light attack, ISR aircraft solution.
Learn more about the A-29 Super Tucano.