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A-X all over again - USAF pushes for A-10 replacement

kaiserd

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Airplane said:
marauder2048 said:
litzj said:
I wondering why these kinds of light attack aircraft are needed. Vision, information or fire power from drone is already enough for counter terrorists
From the article above:

a light-attack fleet would provide much-needed seats for pilot training as the Air Force struggles with
pilot production, absorption and retention.
The answer to the usaf pilot problem is turboprops? Whoever said that needs to be fired.
Said before any analysis of the latest evaluation made public.
Making procurement decisions based on arbitrary factors and blatant predujice (either pro or con turboprop alternatives) would be very unwise and could be valid grounds for dismissal.
 

NeilChapman

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Airplane said:
marauder2048 said:
litzj said:
I wondering why these kinds of light attack aircraft are needed. Vision, information or fire power from drone is already enough for counter terrorists
From the article above:

a light-attack fleet would provide much-needed seats for pilot training as the Air Force struggles with
pilot production, absorption and retention.
The answer to the usaf pilot problem is turboprops? Whoever said that needs to be fired.
Sounds like a knee-jerk reaction to "not enough flying time".

Pilots want to fly, need planes to fly, $60-80M jets too expensive for flight hours, buy a "cheap seat".
 

bobbymike

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https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2017/10/17/skyraider-2-the-air-force-may-bring-back-vietnam-style-combat-plane/
 

kcran567

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Taking a step "backwerds" deliberate dumbing down of capabilities. A WW2 style TURBOprop? Are ::)you kidding?

Would be 100% better off buying SU-25 Frogfoots to replace the A-10.
 

AeroFranz

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WW2-style turboprop? ah, yes, i remember the crazy turboprop dogfights over the Pacific ::)
 

bobbymike

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Full Spectrum Close Air Support for the 21st Century: Leveraging Air Operations with Ground Forces

http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/a2dd91_5da6ef63b45a4a8097aa35c0063ebccd.pdf
 

jsport

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bobbymike said:
Full Spectrum Close Air Support for the 21st Century: Leveraging Air Operations with Ground Forces

http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/a2dd91_5da6ef63b45a4a8097aa35c0063ebccd.pdf
Sure the answer is in the "clouds". ::)

The Army will be left to provide their own CAS. The Army had better get serious about full combat high performance VTOL UAS or their souls will in the "clouds".
 

DrRansom

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bobbymike said:
Full Spectrum Close Air Support for the 21st Century: Leveraging Air Operations with Ground Forces

http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/a2dd91_5da6ef63b45a4a8097aa35c0063ebccd.pdf
I've been waiting for someone to approach the CAS debate from traditional Airpower theory. This is a very good summation of what traditional airpower recommends. It is also why the Congress will mandate a CAS capability outside of the F-35.

From traditional airpower theory, the F-35 is wasted if sent on a CAS mission... That observation isn't lost on anybody in the debate.
 

Triton

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"Air Force Nears Decision-Which Light Attack Plane Goes to Combat"
Scout Warrior - Nov 4, 11:30 AM

by Kris Osborn

Source:
https://scout.com/military/warrior/Article/Air-Force-Nears-Decision-Which-Light-Attack-Plane-Goes-to-Combat-109916473

The combat scenarios were part of experimenting with the a range of missions sets likely to be needed in attacks against terrorist fighters and other instances where the US Air Force has air supremacy - but still needs maneuverability, close air support and the ability to precisely destroy ground targets.

Air Force officials familiar with the experiment provided Scout Warrior with a detailed break-down of the mission scenarios now being evaluated:

- Basic Surface Attack – Assess impact accuracy using hit/miss criteria of practice/laser-guided bomb, and unguided/guided rockets
- Close Air Support (CAS) – Assess ability to find, fix, track target and engage simulated operational targets while communicating with the Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC)
- Daytime Ground Assault Force (GAF) – assess aircraft endurance, range, ability to communicate with ground forces through unsecure and secure radio and receive tactical updates
- Rescue Escort (RESCORT) – Assess pilot workload to operate with a helicopter, receive area updates and targeting data, employ ballistic, unguided/guided rockets and laser-guided munitions
- Night CAS – Assess pilot workload to find, fix, track, target and engage operational targets

The emerging OA-X Light Attack aircraft is envisioned as a low-cost, commercially-built, combat-capable plane able to perform a wide range of missions in a less challenging or more permissive environment.

While several news reports have indicated that the Air Force was very impressed with the technical maturity of the commercial offerings, service officials themselves are not yet ready to comment upon initial findings.

The Air Force will soon provide a complete analytical breakdown of results for senior service leaders to inform the decision-making calculus moving forward, Air Force Spokeswoman Col. Sharon Evans told Scout Warrior.

"The final experimentation report and associated recommendations are in development and will be deliberated by senior leaders when complete," Capt. Emily Grabowski told Scout Warrior in a written statement.

The idea is to save mission time for more expensive and capable fighter jets, such as an F-15 or F-22, when an alternative can perform needed air-ground attack missions – such as the current attacks on ISIS.

During the first week of the experiment, Air Force pilots flew basic surface attack missions in Textron Aviation's AT-6 Wolverine turboprop, as well as in Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer's A-29 Super Tucano, an Air Force statement said.

Air Force pilots also completed familiarization flights in Textron Aviation's Scorpion jet, as well as in Air Tractor Inc. and L3 Platform Integration Division's AT-802L Longsword.

Depending upon the performance of the aircraft, it is quite likely one of the offerings could soon be sent to perform combat missions in the ongoing war against ISIS, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch. Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Acquisition, told Scout Warrior in an interview earlier this year.

The Light Attack effort is designed to bring near-term, combat-ready technology to current conflict; its low-cost and potential mission-enhancing characteristics has inspired support and attention from senior members of Congress - and is closely followed by Air Force leaders who have been visiting and observing the experiment at Holloman.

“We’re experimenting and innovating, and we’re doing it in new and faster ways,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a written service statement. “Experiments like these help drive innovation and play a key role in enhancing the lethality of our force.”

Light Attack aircraft, able to hover close to the ground and attack enemies in close proximity to US forces amid a fast-moving, dynamic combat situation, would quite likely be of substantial value in counterinsurgency-type fights as well as near-peer, force-on-force engagements. The combat concept here, were the Air Force to engage in a substantial conflict with a major, technically-advanced adversary, would be to utilize stealth attack and advanced 5th-Gen fighters to establish air superiority - before sending light aircraft into a hostile area to support ground maneuvers, fire precision weapons at ground targets from close range and even perform on-the-spot combat rescue missions when needed.

“This experiment is about looking at new ways to improve readiness and lethality,” Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, said in an Air Force report. “Working with industry, and building on the Combat Dragon series of tests, we are determining whether a commercial off-the-shelf aircraft and sensor package can contribute to the coalition fight against violent extremism."

A-29 Super Tucano

US-trained pilots with the Afghan Air Force have been attacking the Taliban with A-29 Super Tucano aircraft.

A-29s are turboprop planes armed with one 20mm cannon below the fuselage able to shoot 650 rounds per minute, one 12.7mm machine gun (FN Herstal) under each wing and up to four 7.62mm Dillion Aero M134 Miniguns able to shoot up to 3,000 rounds per minute.

Super Tucanos are also equipped with 70mm rockets, air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9L Sidewinder, air-to-ground weapons such as the AGM-65 Maverick and precision-guided bombs. It can also use a laser rangefinder and laser-guided weapons.

The Super Tucano is a highly maneuverable light attack aircraft able to operate in high temperatures and rugged terrain. It is 11.38 meters long and has a wingspan of 11.14 meters; its maximum take-off weight is 5,400 kilograms. The aircraft has a combat radius of 300 nautical miles, can reach speeds up to 367 mph and hits ranges up to 720 nautical miles.

Textron Scorpion Jet

This emerging commercially constructed aircraft had its first successful flight in December of last year. Prior to this, the Scorpion successfully fired Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System rockets and AGM-114F Hellfire. The weapons were guided to their targets using first a ground-based laser designator system and then an airborne laser on the Scorpion‘s L-3 WESCAM’s MX-15Di sensor suite, a Textron statement said.

Textron has also announced Garmin as the avionics provider for the enhanced Scorpion. Textron information states that the newly configured G3000 avionics system include a large, high-definition display complemented by two high-definition touch-screen controllers and provides more mission capability in the forward cockpit position, additional navigation capability in the rear cockpit position and overall weight savings for improved performance as a multi-mission aircraft.

In addition, changes to the Scorpion airframe include four degrees of sweep to the wings, an enhanced aft horizontal stabilizer for improved high-speed performance, a simplified landing gear design, a next-generation Heads Up Display and hands-on throttle and stick controls, Textron data states.

Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 Light Attack

The AT-6 is a multi-role light attack aircraft. It uses a Lockheed A-10C mission computer and a CMC Esterline glass cockpit with flight management systems combined with an L3 Wescam MX-Ha15Di multi-sensor suite which provides color and IR sensors, laser designation technology and a laser rangefinder.
 

Triton

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"A light attack aircraft fleet: Could it change the fight or put lives at risk?"
by: Stephen Losey

Source:
https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2018/02/20/a-light-attack-aircraft-fleet-could-it-change-the-fight-or-put-lives-at-risk/
 

XP67_Moonbat

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https://theaviationgeekclub.com/usaf-kicks-off-second-phase-of-oa-x-competition/
 

crabanero

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I accept the fact (even though it is not a good one, IMO), that the replacement for the best (again IMO), will be a small prop plane that the AF still doesn't want. This is just to quiet the "law makers" who send the money to the AF. At some point in the future, maybe 20 years, a new aircraft will fill the role. The aircraft will be something better than what the "money folks" want now...
 

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The flying is cancelled, but the USAF will still try to complete the experiment based on data gathered so far:

“A combination of sorties flown during [the] light attack experiment phase I [last year] and [the] May-June portion of [the] light attack experiment phase II generated sufficient data to meet experimentation objectives,” the USAF says. “Even though the flying part of the experiment is concluded, developmental test, maintenance and sustainment data collection portions will continue as necessary to inform an acquisition decision.”

The USAF plans to use data gathered from the experiment to decide whether to buy potentially hundreds of light attack aircraft. The hope is these fighters could be cheaper alternatives for certain missions to using aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 and Boeing F-15.

The service said it did not have a timeline for when it would pick a winning aircraft.
 

FighterJock

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Dragon029 said:
The flying is cancelled, but the USAF will still try to complete the experiment based on data gathered so far:

“A combination of sorties flown during [the] light attack experiment phase I [last year] and [the] May-June portion of [the] light attack experiment phase II generated sufficient data to meet experimentation objectives,” the USAF says. “Even though the flying part of the experiment is concluded, developmental test, maintenance and sustainment data collection portions will continue as necessary to inform an acquisition decision.”

The USAF plans to use data gathered from the experiment to decide whether to buy potentially hundreds of light attack aircraft. The hope is these fighters could be cheaper alternatives for certain missions to using aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 and Boeing F-15.

The service said it did not have a timeline for when it would pick a winning aircraft.
Thanks for the update Dragon29, I did not know that it was just the flying that was cancelled and not the entire program. Pity that the USAF does not cancel the entire program especially since it was a fatal crash that was the problem.
 

MihoshiK

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If the USAF cancelled every program that killed someone there would be a lot less planes in it's history.
 

Moose

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MihoshiK said:
If the USAF cancelled every program that killed someone there would be a lot less planes in it's history.
They cancelled a flight test program of two established aircraft, not a development program of something new.
 

TomcatViP

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Let's see if the Scorpion got his way back on the competition then.
 

FighterJock

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TomcatViP said:
Let's see if the Scorpion got his way back on the competition then.
I would certainly like to think that the Scorpion could get back onto the program since the A-29 accident was fatal. If I were the person in charge of the program I would let the Scorpion have another chance.
 

Archibald

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MihoshiK said:
If the USAF cancelled every program that killed someone there would be a lot less planes in it's history.
Well, they would have no aircraft whatsoever, since the Wright military Flyer killed Thomas Selfridge in 1908. ;D
 

yasotay

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Scene in the bowls of the USAF hall of the Pentagon. The four senior flag officers of the USAF sit around the table, ties undone .
"Well now what do we do? The winner just crashed all over the desert."

"The Congressional delegations from Texas, Kansas, and who knows how many other states would object for a year."

"Here is what we will do. We will take a good long look at the accident investigation, that will take a quarter at least. Then we will go over the data from the first round with a fine tooth comb. Then do a 'blue ribbon panel' to confirm the findings. That will take a year. By then Congress won't know how to spell Light Attack."

"We coud give the money to the Army to help with the IADS issue... or we could buy a years supply of copy paper."

"Go with the second one."
 

TomS

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TomcatViP said:
Let's see if the Scorpion got his way back on the competition then.
This isn't a competition at the moment. The OA-X experiment is just that, an experiment that may help them refine specifications for an actual procurement contract.
 

FighterJock

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TomS said:
TomcatViP said:
Let's see if the Scorpion got his way back on the competition then.
This isn't a competition at the moment. The OA-X experiment is just that, an experiment that may help them refine specifications for an actual procurement contract.
Some experiment it turned out to be! Two highly experienced test pilots are dead because one of the A-29's crashed. Time to go back to the drawing boards and design a proper replacement for the A-10, and not take just of the shelf planes in the hope that it would be cheaper. :mad:
 

TomcatViP

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Jock, as sad as it is, the problem is that there is no room for an A-10 today. Low and close does not have any different meaning today than... Death.
It will be good to understand that CaS is a yielded activity:
- no opposition (with whatever platform suits your fight)
- no budget but understanding that you'd get losses by the many
- opposing low budget anti-air and high flying platforms.


I really believe thy Textron got the competition: there are the only one able to offer two platforms with redundancy that will allow low cost of ownership and cross-platform pilots. Then SoC should stick to upgraded Brinco's until FvL and the marines got something that will
Match their needs.
 

marauder2048

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FighterJock said:
Some experiment it turned out to be! Two highly experienced test pilots are dead because one of the A-29's crashed.
Did the second pilot die in the hospital?
 

Stargazer2006

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FighterJock said:
Time to go back to the drawing boards and design a proper replacement for the A-10, and not take just of the shelf planes in the hope that it would be cheaper. :mad:
You make it sound like an untested new design would be intrinsically safer than a proven off-the-shelf type... ::)
 

F-14D

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FighterJock said:
TomS said:
TomcatViP said:
Let's see if the Scorpion got his way back on the competition then.
This isn't a competition at the moment. The OA-X experiment is just that, an experiment that may help them refine specifications for an actual procurement contract.
Some experiment it turned out to be! Two highly experienced test pilots are dead because one of the A-29's crashed. Time to go back to the drawing boards and design a proper replacement for the A-10, and not take just of the shelf planes in the hope that it would be cheaper. :mad:
Correct me if I'm wrong (and someone will) , but doesn't the A-10 replacement "plan", such as it is, involve two aircraft? First, a light attack aircraft such as the A-29 for use in low intensity environments where there is little or now air opposition, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, and an at present nebulous larger (more costly) new design for more intense conflicts?
 

AeroFranz

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FighterJock said:
TomS said:
TomcatViP said:
Let's see if the Scorpion got his way back on the competition then.
This isn't a competition at the moment. The OA-X experiment is just that, an experiment that may help them refine specifications for an actual procurement contract.
Some experiment it turned out to be! Two highly experienced test pilots are dead because one of the A-29's crashed. Time to go back to the drawing boards and design a proper replacement for the A-10, and not take just of the shelf planes in the hope that it would be cheaper. :mad:
There are plenty of air forces out there operating Tucanos, and they don't seem to suffer from an abnormal accident rate. So it's not an intrinsically unsafe aircraft. You can disagree on the level of survivability required for the job, but as far as light turboprops go, it's a pretty competent design.
 

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marauder2048 said:
FighterJock said:
Some experiment it turned out to be! Two highly experienced test pilots are dead because one of the A-29's crashed.
Did the second pilot die in the hospital?
Nope, he fortunately only had minor injuries. Hopefully the USAF eventually releases an investigation report or findings as to why the A-29 crashed.
F-14D said:
Correct me if I'm wrong (and someone will) , but doesn't the A-10 replacement "plan", such as it is, involve two aircraft? First, a light attack aircraft such as the A-29 for use in low intensity environments where there is little or now air opposition, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, and an at present nebulous larger (more costly) new design for more intense conflicts?
The plan was / is to have both the OA-X (A-29 / AT-6B, etc) and a new A-X2 program (clean sheet design to replace the A-10). However, nothing has happened (funding wise) with A-X2 and I'm uncertain of what's happening with it (whether it's been canned, whether it's just in really early planning stages, whether they're waiting to see the results of OA-X, etc). Welsh had previously floated the idea of A-X2 possibly being an unmanned 'coke dispenser machine' that would carry a bunch of micro-PGMs and could be slaved to a JTAC (or possibly a loitering FAC-A in an OA-X), and personally I like the idea; the purpose of the OA-X is to provide forward air control and maintain situational awareness (which is the stated reasoning as to why the MQ-9 wasn't included in the experiment); if there's an OA-X in the area, the A-X2 should just be able to be a cheap, dumb bomb truck (maybe an unmanned T-X, maybe a larger quantity of something small and disposable like the XQ-222) that can loiter a bit, but also rapidly transit to and from the fight and have enough power to do things like strafe, deliver rockets, etc and remain survivable.
 

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Dragon029 said:
marauder2048 said:
FighterJock said:
Some experiment it turned out to be! Two highly experienced test pilots are dead because one of the A-29's crashed.
Did the second pilot die in the hospital?
Nope, he fortunately only had minor injuries. Hopefully the USAF eventually releases an investigation report or findings as to why the A-29 crashed.
F-14D said:
Correct me if I'm wrong (and someone will) , but doesn't the A-10 replacement "plan", such as it is, involve two aircraft? First, a light attack aircraft such as the A-29 for use in low intensity environments where there is little or now air opposition, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, and an at present nebulous larger (more costly) new design for more intense conflicts?
The plan was / is to have both the OA-X (A-29 / AT-6B, etc) and a new A-X2 program (clean sheet design to replace the A-10). However, nothing has happened (funding wise) with A-X2 and I'm uncertain of what's happening with it (whether it's been canned, whether it's just in really early planning stages, whether they're waiting to see the results of OA-X, etc). Welsh had previously floated the idea of A-X2 possibly being an unmanned 'coke dispenser machine' that would carry a bunch of micro-PGMs and could be slaved to a JTAC (or possibly a loitering FAC-A in an OA-X), and personally I like the idea; the purpose of the OA-X is to provide forward air control and maintain situational awareness (which is the stated reasoning as to why the MQ-9 wasn't included in the experiment); if there's an OA-X in the area, the A-X2 should just be able to be a cheap, dumb bomb truck (maybe an unmanned T-X, maybe a larger quantity of something small and disposable like the XQ-222) that can loiter a bit, but also rapidly transit to and from the fight and have enough power to do things like strafe, deliver rockets, etc and remain survivable.
The A-X2 sounds much more like what I have got in mind for a proper A-10 replacement, so it looks like the A-29 or whatever wins the current experiment will just fill in the gaps until the proper replacement aircraft gets designed and built. In regards to the second pilot, I do not know if the pilot is alive (potentially injured) or dead when he entered the hospital.
 

marauder2048

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Dragon029 said:
Hopefully the USAF eventually releases an investigation report or findings as to why the A-29 crashed.
Not particularly reassuring given that the last A-29 crash was attributed to a never-before-seen and AFIAK
still unexplained propulsion anomaly.

F-14D said:
if there's an OA-X in the area, the A-X2 should just be able to be a cheap, dumb bomb truck (maybe an unmanned
T-X, maybe a larger quantity of something small and disposable like the XQ-222) that can loiter a bit, but also rapidly
transit to and from the fight and have enough power to do things like strafe, deliver rockets, etc and remain survivable.
If the guided 30mm effort achieves its perf/price goals I tend to think it would force at least a re-think of both efforts.
 

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yasotay said:
Scene in the bowls of the USAF hall of the Pentagon. The four senior flag officers of the USAF sit around the table, ties undone .
"Well now what do we do? The winner just crashed all over the desert."

"The Congressional delegations from Texas, Kansas, and who knows how many other states would object for a year."

"Here is what we will do. We will take a good long look at the accident investigation, that will take a quarter at least. Then we will go over the data from the first round with a fine tooth comb. Then do a 'blue ribbon panel' to confirm the findings. That will take a year. By then Congress won't know how to spell Light Attack."

"We coud give the money to the Army to help with the IADS issue... or we could buy a years supply of copy paper."

"Go with the second one."
Sounds just about right.
;)
 

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Why aren't the results of this fly off between the A-10 and F-35. Understand the F-35 has had to drastically reduce stores just so it could fly under 1000ft for any length of time.
 

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jsport said:
Why aren't the results of this fly off between the A-10 and F-35. Understand the F-35 has had to drastically reduce stores just so it could fly under 1000ft for any length of time.
1) This isn't a flyoff or a competition. It's a research project to determine whether OA-X is worthwhile and if so, what features it needs.

2) OA-X is intended to be a low-cost, moderate-performance aircraft for permissive environments. It's not a competitor to either the A-10 or the F-35.
 

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Now that the A-10 v F-35 "flyoff" happened, the DOT&E (per the FY2017 NDAA) has to report to congress on it and the F-35 post-IOC status in general. No timeline was set in the law however, so the timeline for the report is not known.
 
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