Why is Northrop Grumman a prime contractor for a fishing boat company (see here)? The answer is: because they’re not stupid.
“Need some air cover?” (Source: DOD)
Irregular warfare is a growth market, and converting fishing boats into riverine patrol veseels could soon be a booming business with the US Navy, which is standing up a new riverine command for the first time since the Vietnam War.
So far, no company has applied the same approach with aviation, but that will probably change. US Air Force Special Operations Command is talking about standing up an Irregular Warfare wing, with a full squadron of single-engine turboprop fighters to serve as counter-inusrgency aircraft in the mold of the Vietnam-era Douglas A-1 Skyraider.
The Embraer Super Tucano, the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 and the US Aircraft A-67 Dragon are all good candidates for the COIN aircraft role. But each will need a prime contractor, a la the riverine market, to usher the aircraft into operational service.
So, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and BAE Systems, are you reading this?