Warplanes: Super Tucano Versus OV-10


January 27, 2010:  Indonesia is buying sixteen EMB-314 Super Tucano aircraft, to replace twelve 1960s era 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. Counter Measure equipment is available for defense against missiles.

The OV-10, at least in its prime,  is 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.