US lawmakers are threatening to wipe out most of a three-year investment by the US Air Force to stand up a small corps of conventional aircraft and flight crews dedicated to irregular warfare missions.
Two of the three pillars of the USAF's irregular warfare strategy could be cancelled or transferred to the US Army if amendments passed on 17 November to the Senate's version of the defence authorisation bill make it into law.
One amendment would eliminate funding to launch the light attack armed reconnaissance fleet next year. The LAAR role is the subject of an intense, ongoing competition between the Hawker Beechcraft/Lockheed Martin AT-6 and the Embraer/Sierra Nevada EMB-314 Super Tucano.
Another amendment passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee would require the air force to transfer the MC-12W Liberty fleet to the army.
Both the LAAR and Project Liberty programmes have been the most visible centrepieces of the USAF's effort to be more responsive to counter-insurgency requirements in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
The Senate panel left untouched the third pillar of the USAF irregular warfare strategy - a new fleet of "light lift" aircraft. Last month, the USAF selected the Cessna 208 Caravan for the role.
However, the proposals affecting the LAAR and Project Liberty are the latest attempts to diminish the scale and funding of the USAF's original irregular warfare strategy.
In 2009, the USAF envisioned standing up a new force of 100 light strike fighters and at least 60 light lift aircraft, along with more than 40 MC-12s for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
These requirements were gradually reduced to acquiring a single squadron each of light strike and light lift aircraft.