I’ve decided to list a few top candidates for a counter-insurgency aircraft for US Special Operations, if (or when) a requirement is produced. Feel free to add more suggestions if you like, or — if you must — tell me why I’m an idiot for selecting the aircraft I already did. The candidates are:
- Hawker Beechcraft AT-6. Pros: Already in the US inventory with Joint Primary Aircraft Training
System (JPATS). World War II-era version of the T-6 was later used by France, the UK, Portugal and South Africa in counter-insurgency campaigns, according to the book "Airpower in Small Wars," by James Corum and Wray Johnson.
- Embraer Super Tucano. Pros: Incorporates an internal gun pod; already in service as a counter-insurgency aircraft with the Colombian Air Force. Selected by Colombia over competitors, such as the T-6B.
- US Aircraft A-67 Dragon. Pros: Presumably the cheaper alternative, and, thus, probably more attractive as an export candidate. It remains in flight test.
- Fairchild Republic A-1O Thunderbolt II????
Parting thought: The Corum and Johnson book persuasively argues that the ground attack mission in a counter-insurgency campaign is miniscule. Instead, airpower is best applied in support and surveillance missions. "In numerous counterinsurgency campaigns the ability to airlift army and police units to remote locations and to keep them supplied by airdrop and helicopter has proven decisive," the book says.