(Source : Task and Purpose – Jared Keller ) – SOCOM is eyeing a fleet of light attack aircraft for ‘armed overwatch’

U.S. Special Operations Command is looking to pick up 75 light attack aircraft to conduct “armed overwatch” missions in conjunction with ground forces, according to new solicitation.

SOCOM plans on holding several industry days with defense contractors in March for the new Armed Overwatch program which is intended to provide U.S. special operations forces with “deployable and sustainable manned aircraft systems” for “close air support, precision strike, and SOF intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in austere and permissive environments,” according to the Feb. 3 solicitation.

Based on the outcome of those industry days, SOCOM intends to then award a follow-on indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract to furnish the command with an expected total of 75 light attack aircraft over a five-year base ordering period, according to the solicitation.

The Air Force had previously explored acquiring new light attack aircraft alongside the Navy and Marine Corps since 2017 through its experimental OA-X, or “Observation, Attack, concept,” program designed to identify light attack aircraft for non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) functions. (…)

“Special operations forces have been particularly vocal about the need for armed overwatch, which is currently provided by platforms like the MQ-9 Reaper and the AC-130J gunship.”  (…)

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Photo Credit >>> Textron AT-6B Wolverines (shown at top) and Sierra Nevada-Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos (shown at bottom), as published in :  https://www.airforcemag.com/air-force-to-buy-six-light-attack-aircraft-for-continuing-experiments/