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What Is So Super About The Tucano
by James Dunnigan
December 6, 2010

Indonesia has reduced its original order of sixteen Brazilian EMB-314 Super Tucano aircraft, to eight. The Indonesian generals wanted sixteen, but the politicians, and budget realities, cut that in half. The Tucanos will replace twelve 1960s era American OV-10s. The two seat, 5.2 ton, single engine turbo prop Super Tucano will be used for COIN (Counter Insurgency) operations. It can fly low and slow, yet still has a 1,000 combat kilometer radius, five hour endurance, 600 kilometers per hour top speed, and a 35,000 foot ceiling. The Super Tucano armament consists of twin 12.7mm (.50 caliber) machine guns and nearly two tons of guided bombs and rockets. ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) equipment is available for defense against ground-to-air, or air-to-air, missiles.

The OV-10, at least in its prime, was a hard act to follow. The OV-10 is a 6.5 ton, twin prop aircraft that could carry over two tons of weapons and stay in the air for three hours per sortie. The first one was delivered to the U.S. Air Force, for use in Vietnam, in 1968. The last one was produced (for export to Indonesia) in 1976. The U.S. Air Force and Marines were the primary users of OV-10s, and the last of these was retired, by the marines, in 1994. Over a hundred were exported to Germany, Thailand, Colombia, Venezuela and Indonesia. Several dozen of these are still in use out of over 300 manufactured. In Vietnam, the OV-10 was used more for reconnaissance and directing air and artillery strikes, than in using its own firepower. But that's what irregular warfare was all about, finding an elusive enemy, and killing him. That's what the OV-10 was designed to do, and did it well. But now a new generation of aircraft are taking over.

 


 

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