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MODERN ATTACK AIRCRAFT RESEMBLES WWII FIGHTERS - A-29 Super Tucano, a counter insurgency powerhouse

Designed and built by Embraer Defense and Security, the EMB-314 Super Tucano (also named ALX and A-29) is a versatile turboprop aircraft aimed mainly for light attack, aerial support, and reconnaissance roles in low threat environments; attributes that are perfect for counter insurgency operations. Don't be deceived by its WWII-esque fighter aircraft airframe as the Super Tucano incorporates 4th-gen avionics and weapons systems to deliver precision guided munitions. Because of its low cost and high maneuverability (stemming from its light weight and low speed), the EMB-314 is also an ideal training aircraft. 

Super Tucano has been very successful and is currently in service with many developing countries (Brazil, Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, and Chile) where insurgency is a large problem. Several other countries have also ordered  EMB-314's, which, surprisingly, also included the United States. The Super Tucano won a USAF competition for a Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft, beating the AT-6 from Hawker Beechcraft.

The Super Tucano is based off the EMB-312 Tucano trainer aircraft used by the Brazilian Air Force. It was developed due to a rising need for a light attack aircraft to keep Brazil's borders secure. The Super Tucano also met the requirements of the air force's ALX project for a new trainer aircraft. 

The Super Tucano was planned to be equipped with the more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68C engines. With power came more weight in this case, so the fuselage of the original Tucano was extended fore and aft of the cockpit by 1.37-m total to restore the centre of gravity. The airframe was also strengthened, the landing gear reinforced, cockpit pressurization was introduced, and the nose was stretched to house the larger engine. Several prototypes were built and tested and in 1995, the Brazilian government granted Embraer $ 50 million to develop the Super Tucano for the ALX project. The initial flight of the production-configured Super Tucano happened on June 2, 1999.

Besides alterations to the airframe and overall structure of the baseline Tucano, the Super Tucano also had:
  • Kevlar armour protection
  • a .50 calibre machine gun mount
  • 5 hard-points on the wings (giving it a capacity to carry ordnances from cannon pods to air-to-air missiles)
  • a new Night Vision compatible cockpit
  • HOTAS (hands on throttle and stick) controls
  • Numerous new avionics systems including missile approach warning receiver systems (MAWS) and radar warning receivers (RWR).
Since its introduction in 2003, the Super Tucano has seen a large amount of military action, including Brazil's Operation Ágata 1,2, and 3. The operations involved rigorous military action over the borders of Brazil to rid them of illegal activities such as drug trafficking and non-permitted mining/logging. The Super Tucanos were also extensively used by the Columbian Air Force in its ongoing campaign against the rebel FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia) guerilla forces.

Specifications (wiki)

General characteristics
  • Crew: One pilot on single seat version, one pilot plus one navigator/student on double seat version
  • Payload: 1,550 kg (3,420 lb)
  • Length: 11.42 m (37 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 11.14 m (36 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 3.9 m (12 ft 9.5 in)
  • Wing area: 19.4 m² (209 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 3,200 kg (7,055 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 5,400 kg (11,905 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68C turboprop, 1,600 hp (1,193 kW)
  • Maximum speed: 590 km/h (319 knots, 367 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 520 km/h (281 knots, 323 mph)
  • Stall speed: 148 km/h (80 knots, 92 mph
  • g-limits: +7/-3.5 g)
  • Range: 720 nmi (827 mi, 1,330 km)
  • Combat radius: 550 km (300 nmi, 342 mi) (hi-lo-hi profile, 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) of external stores)
  • Ferry range: 1,541 nmi (1,774 mi, 2,855 km) 
  • Endurance: 8hrs 40mins
  • Service ceiling: 10,668 m (35,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 24 m/s (79 ft/s)


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