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​L-3 and Air Tractor join OA-X experiment

L-3 Communications will participate in the US Air Force OA-X experiment that starts on 31 July with the Air Tractor AT-802L Longsword, an armed reconnaissance version of a tail-dragging cropduster, the two companies say.

Longsword joins Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine turboprop and Scorpion jet, along with Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano for a demonstration at Holloman AFB, Nevada, evaluating off-the-shelf options to fill an attack and support role.

L-3’s announcement appears late, with the OA-X experiment already underway at Holloman this week. But the USAF has not announced all the OA-X participants, instead allowing the contractors to identify themselves. The service plans on announcing additional participants soon, an air force spokeswoman tells FlightGlobal.

L-3 unveiled the militarised AT-802L at this year’s Paris air show, showing off an Air Tractor equipped with a glass cockpit, Wescam MX-15 electro-optical/infrared sensor pod and hardpoints under the wings and belly. L-3 has a pending sale for 12 of the modified crop dusters to Kenya.

This week’s OA-X experiment is expected to garner more information not only for the USAF, but US Special Operations Command. On 28 July, the two services released a pre-solicitation searching for platform agnostic technology known as light attack support for special operations (LASSO). Air Force Special Operations will attend the OA-X experiment, but an air force spokeswoman could not say whether LASSO and OA-X are linked.

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