Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
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.
SOCOM has been eyeing its own light attack aircraft since at least 2017, according to The War Zone.
The new SOCOM solicitation comes several months after the Air Force announced plans in October to purchase two new light attack aircraft, the Textron Aviation's AT-6 Wolverine and Sierra Nevada Corporation/Embraer Defense & Security's A-29 Super Tucano, which the service evaluated as part of its OA-X experiment.
But those aircraft likely won't see combat: the AT-6s are intended for the "continued testing and development of operational tactics and standards for exportable, tactical networks that improve interoperability with international partners," according to the Air Force statement, while the A-29s will be used to "develop an instructor pilot program for the Combat Aviation Advisory mission, to meet increased partner nation requests for light attack assistance."
The armed overwatch focus on precision strike and close air support functions marks a departure from the ISR and training focuses of the Air Force's OA-X experiment, which were partially intended to free up other aircraft like the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for more complex combat operations.
Indeed, Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper hinted one month after the AT-6 and A-29 announcement that the service could see its light attack efforts split into two distinct efforts: one focused on the procurement of additional AT-6 and A-29 airframes, and another that emphasizes a new platform to fulfill a need for the specific combat functions that SOCOM's been pursuing for years.
"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," as Air Force Magazine reported at the time. "Roper said more experiments could be an ideal way to explore those possibilities."
Some Fort Bragg paratroopers who left for the Middle East on a no-notice deployment last month came home Thursday.
About 3,500 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team were sent to Kuwait beginning Jan. 1 as tensions were rising in the region. The first soldiers were in the air within 18 hours of being told to go.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Large cargo ships, small fishing boats and other watercraft sail safely past Naval Station Norfolk every day, but there's always a possibility that terrorists could use any one of them to attack the world's largest naval base.
While Navy security keeps a close eye on every vessel that passes, there's an inherent risk for the sailors aboard small patrol boats who are tasked with helping keep aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers on base safe from waterborne attacks.
So the Navy experimented Wednesday to test whether an unmanned vessel could stop a small boat threatening the base from the Elizabeth River.
Nancy Turner's modern version of keeping a candle in the window while her soldier son is away is a string of electric lights on the front porch that burn red, white and blue.
But where Turner sees patriotism and support for the troops, her Garner homeowners association sees a covenant violation and a potential $50-per-day fine.
Turner was surprised to receive a threatening email last week after an employee from Sentry Management, which manages the Sheldon Place HOA, spotted the illegal illumination during a neighborhood patrol.
"I honestly had no idea it would be a problem," Turner said.
The HOA did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent as a message through its Facebook page.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."