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Air Force Orders More A-29 Super Tucanos for Afghanistan

The U.S. Air Force’s A-29 Afghanistan Program ordered six more A-29 Super Tucano aircraft late in October 2017 from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and its partner Embraer Defense & Security, according to a news release from the partnership. Production of the six new aircraft is taking place in Jacksonville, Florida, and will bring to 26 the total number of aircraft provided to the A-29 Afghanistan Program. The A-29s are being used for advanced flight training, aerial reconnaissance, and light attack operations in Afghanistan.

“We are proud to continue our support of the Air Force’s A-29 Afghanistan Program as it is not only a testament to the capability of the A-29 aircraft, but also to its ease of operation and cost effectiveness.”

“We believe this decision demonstrates that the A-29 Super Tucano is the best aircraft for close air support operations, as well as the most proven, reliable and cost-effective solution for counterinsurgency and irregular warfare scenarios,” said Jackson Schneider, president and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security. “We are honored to continue to support the U.S. government in this critical mission.”

A-29 flight line

An Afghan A-29 pilot walks toward his aircaft on the flightline Sept. 10, 2017, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The Air Force is procuring six more A-29s for the Afghanistan Program. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel

The A-29 Super Tucano is operated by 13 air forces worldwide, with more than  320,000 flight hours and 40,000 combat hours, according to the partnership. The Super Tucano is equipped with advanced electronic, electro-optic, infrared and laser system technologies, secure radio systems with data links, and “unrivalled” munitions capacity, including more than 150 certified load configurations. It is also the only aircraft of its type with a USAF military type certificate.

“We are proud to continue our support of the Air Force’s A-29 Afghanistan Program as it is not only a testament to the capability of the A-29 aircraft, but also to its ease of operation and cost effectiveness,” said Taco Gilbert, senior vice president for SNC’s ISR business area. “There is no other aircraft like the A-29 in its ability to provide flight training, light attack, and combat pilot seasoning. Its continued demand demonstrates its value to air forces the world over.”

The A-29 has been operating from at least four bases in Afghanistan since early 2016, and was selected for its ability to operate in austere locations, extreme climates, and rugged terrain with a small operational and maintenance footprint.