OV-10 Comeback: Will the Bronco buck again?

Boeing has confirmed that it is going to offer a new, upgraded version of the Vietnam-era OV-10 Bronco for the USAF’s OA-X Light Strike aircraft programme.  While the plane would maintain much of its 1960s-vintage rugged external design, the 21st Century OV-10(X) “Super Bronco” would feature a computerized cockpit, intelligence sensors and smart-bomb-dropping capabilities. 


This will pit the twin-engine Bronco against the single-engine Hawker Beechcraft AT-6B Texan II and the single-engine EMB-314 Super Tucano.  Incidentally, these latter two aircraft happen to look remarkably similar! 


Besides being different in appearance, the OV-10 offers the additional resilience of a second engine, plus much better visibility and enhanced weapons-load potential over the two single-engine competitors.  These two things could well work in the OV-10’s favour, as the intended role for these aircraft is close air support in low-intensity, ground-conflict oriented, counter-insurgency warfare.

OV-10X Super Bronco

Needless to say, the entire OA-X programme, and the desire to create an entire Wing devoted to low-intensity/COIN warfare has ruffled more than a few feathers within the USAF hi-tech, supersonic, technocratic establishment.  Well, tough.  If I was out in the middle of bandit country, I’d much rather have a slow-mover carrying a mixed bag of tricks loitering overhead, than a fast mover with a couple of big bombs zooming in from far away.


So, yes – I’m a bit of a fan of the good old OV-10.  I can still remember the thrill I got from being able to get up-close-and-personal with one at an airshow when I was a kid.  Anyways, the original OV-10 served for around 30 years with the USAF, and with USMC right up through to the end of the First Gulf War – it is also still in service with Colombia and the Philipines.

OV-10 Bronco Wikipedia page – well worth a read, and see how much of this sounds strangely familiar…

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