PHOTO: Boeing pitches OV-10X Bronco for USAF light attack

Boeing confirms it has proposed building new OV-10s with upgraded avionics and weapons for the US Air Force light attack contract.

Subscription-only Inside the Air Force broke the news this morning.

Boeing provided the photo above, providing a glimpse of the new OV-10 concept. The image will surely be embraced by the Bronco’s devoted following, who remember the aircraft’s notably effective service in the Vietnam War.

The OV-10 could face competition from other Vietnam-era light attack aircraft, such as the Piper Aircraft PA-48 Enforcer. A new class of turboprop fighter-trainers, such as the AT-6 and the Embraer Super Tucano are also vying for the contract. Alenia, meanwhile, plans to offer the jet-powered M346 trainer.

Boeing inherits the OV-10 Bronco’s design rights from its purchase in the 1980s of North American Rockwell, the aircraft’s original manufacturer.


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30 Responses to PHOTO: Boeing pitches OV-10X Bronco for USAF light attack

  1. ELP 11 September, 2009 at 11:46 pm #

    Of course the competition stops if one is able to convince the USAF of all the other mission sets the Bronco can do that a single engine fighter/trainer can not do.

  2. SMSgt Mac 12 September, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    Oh Gawd.Another candidate for the Nostalgia Air Force!

    Bring it Boeing!

  3. Dave 12 September, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    Let’s hope that the seats are upgraded and that the nose is strengthened to allow ditching without killing the pilot.

  4. SMSgt Mac 12 September, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    Not to mention a redesign that saves the crew’s hearing. The OV-10 had the worst acoustic environment and their crews experienced the most hearing loss compared to other AF planes – at least according to one of my old AF audiologists.
    Perhaps new engine/prop combinations? But given the relative locations, better sound attenuation would be more effective I think.

  5. mike j 13 September, 2009 at 4:39 am #

    I like the Bronco a lot, but Boeing had best get off its hindquarters. The competition is already airborne.

  6. TL 13 September, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    “I like the Bronco a lot, but Boeing had best get off its hindquarters.”

    An intentional pun Mike? ;)

    As long as it is not called the ‘Bucking Bronco(!), kicks like a Mustang, fights like a ???’

    My preference would be to rename it something more appropriate like the ‘OV-10X Vampire’, as it has yet again risen from the dead…

  7. mike j 13 September, 2009 at 9:08 pm #



    nah, just needed an editor.

    I’d like to see it fly before I’ll call it “undead.”

    Sure have been nice to have these over Astan the last few days.

  8. HerkEng 14 September, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    For what they want it to do… there would be nothing better than the OV-10. Didn’t the AF ask for a single engine aircraft? That is why I was backing the A-67 Dragon or the Super Tucano…But if two engines are ok for the competition then I would like to see this thing go for it. Nothing much can out maneuver, out turn the OV-10 not to mention the complete Situational Awareness with the big beautiful canopy.

  9. mike j 14 September, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

    Can anybody point me to any source, outside of the blog rumor mill, that says the PA-48 Enforcer is actually in consideration?

    As far as I can tell, it was a nice idea someone had about 40 years ago that petered out and turned into museum pieces.

  10. BR 15 September, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    Since we seem to be moving towards a single air frame military is it smart to come to the table with a turbo prop aircraft with noted noise/hearing issues. I am personally against the single air frame concept but I am not sold on this air frame either. We can do much better if we are to have a manned surveillance airframe. The UAV’s are doing a great job and the current Bronco airframe is superfluous at best. Do not even get me started on the Enforcer, while it was a good airframe in its time that time is past.

  11. Alan 17 September, 2009 at 2:39 am #

    PA-48 Enforcer is to large and would use to much fuel in an age of stressed budgets and climbing energy costs. Raise your hands if jet-A is still going to cost less than $3 dollars a gallon in ten years come on get real out there. The day of the multi-engine manned aviation jet platform for attacking low risk insurgent targets is over. It is only time now when a single-engine turboprop propeller driven unmanned aviation platform will be hunting and killing the bad guys using a gun packing a few Hell Fires as party favors. The costs are penciling out everyday as computer chips get smarter and faster and the cost of a barrel of oil climbs and more of the developing world (remember those people) wants a car in front of the mud huts. Gentleman all Boeing is trying to do is push the conversation at officer clubs around the world to start talking about a new world of attack “propeller” aviation platform that is coming. Now is the time to start to think how nations are going to control conflict and war in a age of growing volatile fuel prices and reduced military budgets, wake up and smell burnt jet-A gentleman and ladies the sand is shifting. How we apply hard force is going to change it has to and we all better start thinking how to use a single-engine turboprop “propeller” aviation platform manned or unmanned to take care of business over the battlespace the day has arrived. I’m working on how to take a single-engine turboprop fixed-wing platform and turn it into an in-flight refueling tanker able to refuel below 100 knots for unmanned class III and IV systems. Change is coming to aviation along with thinking how to use it to take care of business.

  12. F106A 18 September, 2009 at 3:48 am #

    If we keep relying on UAVs, or RPVs, and keep thinking that is the future, we’ll end up being back where we were in the late ’50s and early 60s when everyone thought we’ll never need an integral machine gun in fighters. The day of the dogfight never ended and neither has the day of the COIN aircraft. History folks! History!! I wish I could remember that Star Trek episode where the computer decided how many people got killed in the computer battle and the government just sent that many people to their death chamber. Uhgh…

  13. rfc 30 September, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    Boeing is a stalking horse. The USAF ACC is purposely delaying the competition to allow HBC get “ready” to win. The presence of Boeing and Embraer allow the appearance of competition. USAF ACC has already awarded over 7M USD to Hawker to strengthen and make ready the AT-6 Texan II.

    If I was Boeing, I would tell the Air Force “no thanks” yet Boeing cannot – if it wants a shot at the Tanker project (KC-67). Meanwhile US Military is already flying the only proven COIN aircraft in action at present: The EMB-314 Super Tucano. It is about 5 years ahead of any competition. Yet the USAF does not want competition. It wants the “appearance” of competition.

  14. John 1232 4 November, 2009 at 6:03 pm #

    Buy A-10C’s instead.

  15. Arm Chair General 20 December, 2009 at 2:01 pm #

    The best of both worlds?
    A UAV’d Bronco with turreted tail
    ventral mini gun, nose mounted 40 mm
    grenade launcher, various wing mount
    and internal guided stores.

    Optional dorsal fuselage mount jets for carrier basing-
    ” Diesel for long loiter.

    A mini Specter

  16. Nicholle Hardman 24 December, 2009 at 8:43 am #

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  17. Jfo 23 January, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    The Bronco’s twin engine makes sense in terms of survivability — important given the likelihood of taking fire in CAS missions in places like A’stan.
    All the candidates are more survivable than attack helicopters, and all of them make more sense for CAS than F-16s, Tornados etc.: they are less wasteful and more effective. Unlike jet fighters they can fly slow enough to see what’s going on and make sure that munitions don’t land on our own troops or civilians…
    The question will be who gets to operate them: the army and marines, or the USAF which wants a monopoly of fixed wing aircraft but hates the whole, unglamorous CAS mission…

  18. Chuck 29 January, 2010 at 2:26 am #

    Just finished reading Air and Space rag’s Bronco’s Tale and immediately landed here to check out the reborn OV-10. I have fond memories from Vietnam while flying along side the Broncos as we flushed out Charlie in I Corps. Flying the Bronco’s tandem seated younger brother, the Bird Dog, I admired their fighter stance and reconnaissance prowess. Go Boeing and the USAF. On the other engine, recon drones appear to be way of the future. 220th and 21th RAC, Vietnam.

  19. edward_m 1 February, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    “The costs are penciling out everyday as computer chips get smarter and faster and the cost of a barrel of oil climbs…..”

    Thanks Allan, you just made the case for the OV-10X. As costs go up, the use of Air Force hot rods (F-16, F-15, F-35, etc.) will be prohibitive: a multi-million dollar fast jet, burning massive amounts of fuel, to hit a few ‘mud huts’ and a squad of men? Isn’t that the problem the COIN mission was conceived to cure in the first place? F106A hit it on the head: history, people…learn it, know it, live it.

    As for UAV’s, what no one seems to be thinking about is the unvoiced problem with them: they still need a human in the loop to make the decision to drop that smart bomb on a target.
    And while computer power is getting faster and cheaper, its still a long way to an AI that can make the same decision a man on the spot can make.
    And can we always expect perfect reliability? So far, no one has disabled a UAV in combat (that we know of), but that same increase in computer power that makes the UAV so cost effective also make inevitable the appearance on the battlefield of cheap ECM that will disable these wonder weapons.

    And then what do we fall back on? After putting all our eggs in that electronic basket?

    We will need a dedicated manned COIN aircraft well into the foreseeable future, and the OV-10X is a proven product, with unmatched maneuverability, twin engine safety, superior visibility, and the ability to carry a variety of weapons for an extended loiter time.

    Just because something isn’t the latest model on the showroom floor doesn’t mean it isn’t the better tool for the job.

  20. Old Marine 16 February, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    I worked for the Navy at NAA Columbus A/C Division when it was still North American, and we were building the OV-10. Several of our Navy Aviators there had flown it in Nam, and I never heard anything but praise for its rugged simplicity, magnificent field of view from the cockpit, and adaptability (eg: The USMC NOGS [Night Observation Gun Ship]). Also, we sold a bunch to Venezuela for counterinsurgency use… They could carry a few infantry behind the GIB, land on rough field to let them off, then take off and fly their air support, return and take them out.

    As an old Marine (tanker, Korea), I can’t imagine anything I’d rather have flying close support for the grunts on the ground.

    Count me as an OV-10 supporter. I love what’s tried and true!

  21. Marine Brat Turned Marine Grunt..... 17 February, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    Being a former Marine Corps brat and former active duty Marine Grunt, I think the OV-10 x will be well recieved by the ground pounder looking up for the all-mighty close air support that is loved by all mud Marines. My father was a mech. with VMO-2 when I was a kid and I learned early on what an asset the bronco was. would love to see her fly with U.S. military markings again. It would prove very valuable in the high altitudes and mountains of Afg. with upgraded avionics and software it would be a beast in the turbo prop arena. I would love to see her flie again.

  22. My 2¢ worth= “If this rugged war bird can be effectively revived,revamped & refitted- GO FOR IT!”
    I like the new Handle “OV-10X Vampire”.

    Any thoughts to making it unmanned?

    Then again-
    Yes two human brains with 4 eyes on time & target are vastly superior to some Nintendo/X-box jockey pimple faced kid in a conex box sipping on his espresso-ochino late whatever drink watching the REAL MARINES who need the REAL TIME PROTECTION offered by skilled USMC aviators flying
    this weapons platform NOW!
    Simply put-

    ( sadly too many liberals & most likely our present comander in chief does not think this way! )

    Again this is just my 2¢ worth= as you were.

  23. Bruce Kearvell 28 February, 2010 at 3:45 am #

    Just how many OV-10(X)’s can fit on a Canberra class LHD? Interesting concept.

  24. kuyog 17 June, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    We still use the OV-10′s here in the Philippines for COIN work. Marsh Aviation refitted the birds with new 4-blade props from Hartzell for better performance and less noise footprint. Some units have also gotten upgraded avionics suites installed. The airframes have been zero-timed under an ongoing SLEP program, and we expect to keep these birds flying for several more years.

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