Super Tucano-The JSF of South America
New Wars endeavors to keep you informed of one of mine and your favorite little COIN aircraft, the Brazilian Embraer Super Tucano, light attack prop plane. Here is a great story of future plans for the $10 million plane, which reminds of of another less modest program that has widespread interest, the US Joint Strike Fighter. Story is from the LA Times and I love the title “Modest Brazil warplane fitting into nations’ plans“:
The two-seater Super Tucano’s top speed is only about 350 mph. But it has a 620-mile combat radius and can stay aloft for six hours. Introduced in 2003, the plane can be outfitted with two heavy machine guns as well as 2 tons of guided bombs and rockets, said Robert Munks, an Americas analyst for IHS Jane’s military consultants in London.
With their uses in training, surveillance and offensive campaigns, the Super Tucanos fit the bill for many Third World countries, and at $10 million each, are relatively cheap, Munks said. After five years in service with the Colombian air force, the planes have proved their worth in anti-drug and counterinsurgency operations, he said.
Chile and the Dominican Republic have bought Super Tucanos. An Embraer spokesman declined to comment on reports that Indonesia and Peru have also placed orders. The Pentagon is considering buying 200 of the aircraft, and Britain’s Royal Air Force is weighing the possibility of replacing its fleet of Harrier vertical takeoff jets with Super Tucanos instead of Lockheed Martin F-35Bs, which cost 10 times as much.
If the Pentagon buys the planes — 100 each for the Navy and Air Force, according to reports — the order would equal the total number of Super Tucanos that have been sold to date. The principal customers have been the air forces of Brazil, with 99, and Colombia, which bought 25.
The “modest” title certainly fits the description, but that should be looked on as a badge of honor. If only we had more modest warplanes in service, our pilots wouldn’t have to fly ancient warplanes, falling apart in the skies into every war. Capability in a fighter is a wonderful thing, but you don’t need high tech for every role, or every function of airpower (with the stand-off in the South Atlantic proof that a little capability goes a long way). This tiny Brazilian prop fighter is the antidote for such thinking.
Would also make a good A-10 replacement. Not a perfect substitute for the mighty Warthog, but at least it is in production, ready now to take the place of the 40 year old American attack plane, one of the few focused mission platforms in the USAF arsenal. Except for vertical lift (though perfect for short take-offs on rough strips) , it is superior to any attack helicopter, at least in speed and range, even besting the mighty US Apache and it is about one-tenth the cost of a V-22 Osprey. Here are some specs:
- Length-37.17 ft
- Wingspan-36.55 ft
- Empty Weight-6,658 lb
- Max. Weight-11,464 lb
- Combat Load-3300 lbs avg.
- Range-2,995 mi
- Endurance-6 hours
- Armament-2x 12.7 mm FN Herstal M3P machine guns
1x 20 mm cannon pod below the fuselage
4x 70 mm rocket launcher pods
Conventional (‘Iron’) and Guided (‘Smart’) bombs
2x AIM-9 Sidewinder or MAA-1 Piranha or Python 3/4 air-to-air missiles
External stores on 5 hardpoints
Practically the only function the Tucano can’t perform is air superiority (except in REALLY low threat environments), but with Raptors, Super Hornets, Typhoons, etc around, what more do you need in a strike fighter?