So, after Congress shut down the Navy’s plan to lease and operate four A-29B Super Tucanos in Afghanistan, it looks like the Navy has decided to try another tack.
Several OV-10 Broncos are still operational outside the DoD. Now comes word that the Navy has snagged one that NASA has been using and is apparently going to retrofit it to a combat capable role.
I’m stealing some info from a forum for veterans of VAL-4, the Navy squadron that operated the Bronco in Vietnam.
The following is provided courtesy of the OV-10 Bronco Association, Inc. Thanks.
[redacted by XBrad] had the privilege of attending the first public showing of the updated OV-10G+ being operated by the Nay’s RCU-1, as a “Black Pony.” They are preparing a second airplane for light attack, battle field management and communications roles or as the unit calls it; “Find-Fix-Finish.” The airplanes are flown by Navy pilots with Marne WSO’s in the back seat. The ground crews include both Navy and Air Force personnel. This is not a Boeing project, it is a Navy program. The attached pictures and video were taken at NAS PAX river on March 22nd.
If all goes well, this airplane will be joined by a second one. Both airplanes came from NASA and pervious to that were used by the State Department as spray airplanes. Before that, they belonged to the Marine Corps. If everything works out right, both airplanes will be here in Fort Worth for BroncoFest May 3 to 5, 2013.
At present this project is proof of concept and is only funded through October. After that is anybody’s guess.
You will notice there are no sponsons on the airplane. Those will be added soon. The normal configuration for the missions will be centerline and with external fuel and four seven shot pods for laser guided 2,75″ rockets.
Funded through October means to the end of the current fiscal year. We’ll see what the FY14 budget has. I presume the impetus for this is coming from the special operations side of the house more than the NavAir side, and the fact that is as far along as it is says SPECWAR finds it pretty important. It wouldn’t suprise me a bit if they got money for next year, and maybe even another couple aircraft. There’s still quite a few Broncos out at the Boneyard.
And while they’ll eventually add the sponsons, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just forego installing the M60D guns in them. Mostly they’ll want the sponsons for holding the rocket pods.
As a long time fan of the OV-10, I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl. Why the heck didn’t we do this a decade ago?