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Philippines orders 6 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft from Brazil’s Embraer

Deliveries to the Philippine Air Force will begin in 2019

The Philippines ordered six A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advanced training aircraft from Brazil’s Embraer, the company said on Thursday, November 30.

The turbo-prop aircraft, selected in a public bidding process as part of the Philippine Air Force’s ongoing modernization plan, will be used for close air support, light attack, surveillance, air-to-air interception, and counterinsurgency missions, Embraer said in a press release.

Deliveries to the PAF’s 15th Strike Wing will begin in 2019.

“We are honored to be selected by the Philippine Air Force, our second operator in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Jackson Schneider, president and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security.

The Philippines is the 14th air force that will field the aircraft. Near-neighbour Indonesia purchased a total of 16 A-29s.

Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucano
An Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucano over Kabul, Afghanistan, August 14, 2015. Image: US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr

The A-29’s inexpensive flexibility

The A-29 is a durable and flexible aircraft designed for counter-insurgency and close air support roles. It can also be used for reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments and for pilot training, and is capable of operating from unimproved runways.

A-29 Super Tucano, Afghanistan
An A-29 Super Tucano light air support aircraft delivered to Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, January 15, 2016. Image: US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb

Powered by a variant of the world’s most popular turboprop engine rather than a jet, the Super Tucano is relatively cheap to buy, fly and maintain – they cost around $18 million each and about $1,000 per flying hour, compared to around $6,000 per hour for the A-10 Warthog which performs a similar role. Embraer says the A-29 has been selected by 13 air forces worldwide and has clocked up 320,000 flight hours and 40,000 combat hours.

The A-29 was among three aircraft that were tested by the U.S. Air Force in July and August in the Light Attack Experiment, which was designed to assess the potential of low-cost light attack aircraft to conduct the missions most frequently flown including close air support, air interdiction, combat search and rescue, and strike coordination and reconnaissance.

Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucanos
Two Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft fly over Kabul, Afghanistan during a mission on April 28, 2016. Image: US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr

In October, the U.S. Air Force ordered six additional A-29s for the Afghan Air Force, bringing to 26 the total number of planes to be supplied under the Afghanistan Program. Earlier this month, Afghan Air Force A-29s conducted the first strike in Operation Jagged Knife, the new campaign against Taliban drug production facilities.

“The training of the Afghanistan Air Force and the introduction of the A-29 Super Tucano attacker plane is an outright success story,” the deputy air commander of CJTF-OIR’s land component Brigadier General Andrew Croft told The Defense Post in an interview earlier this month.

Lebanese A-29 Super Tucano student pilot
A Lebanese A-29 Super Tucano student pilot with the 81st Fighter Squadron, conducts the first “in-seat” training sortie, March 22, 2017. Image: US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf

Also in October, the Lebanese Army received two of at least six A-29 Super Tucanos it ordered using a $1 billion grant received from Saudi Arabia in 2014. The contract for the planes is expected to be completed by July 2019. Lebanese pilots train on the aircraft in the U.S.

6 more A-29 Super Tucano aircraft ordered for USAF Afghanistan program

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