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U.S. Lawmakers Nix Light-Attack Aircraft Proposal

Oct. 14, 2011 - 03:45AM   |  
By MARCUS WEISGERBER   |   Comments
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U.S. lawmakers continue to reject the Pentagon's attempts to deploy light-attack aircraft to Afghanistan as part of a combat experiment.

The House Appropriations and Armed Services committees and Senate Armed Services Committee rejected a $17 million U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) request for the Combat Dragon II program, according to a Pentagon reprogramming document.

For more than a year, the Pentagon has wanted to test propeller-driven planes outfitted with reconnaissance sensors and precision-guided weapons in combat to see if they can improve coordination between ground troops and aircraft.

But, lawmakers have not been receptive.

Last year, the House Armed Services Committee and House and Senate Appropriations committees rejected a $22 million DoD reprogramming request to deploy light-attack aircraft to combat as part of the Navy-initiated Imminent Fury program.

During the first phase of the Imminent Fury program, the Navy -- and eventually Air Force - tested an Embraer Super Tucano, which featured integrated intelligence sensors and guided-weapons.

The services wanted to deploy four light-attack aircraft for six months as part of the second phase of Imminent Fury.

CENTCOM initiated the Combat Dragon II initiative late last year. Both Embraer and Hawker Beechcraft - which builds the AT-6 attack plane -- had expressed interest in the Imminent Fury II program.

Military officials have been considering using 1960s-era OV-10 Broncos for the Combat Dragon II demonstration, according to sources.

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