July 21, 2012: Indonesia has ordered another eight Brazilian EMB-314 Super Tucano trainer/attack aircraft. Twenty months ago Indonesia reduced a 2010 order for 16 Super Tucanos to eight. Budget problems and uncertainty about how capable the aircraft would be got the order cut in half. Since then the manufacturer has been passing along reports from other Super Tucano users, and that convinced the Indonesians to restore the order and get eight more aircraft. The first four Super Tucanos will arrive before the end of the year.
The Super Tucanos will replace twelve 1960s era American OV-10s. The two seat, 5.2 ton, single engine turbo prop Super Tucano will mainly be used for COIN (Counter Insurgency) operations. Super Tucano 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 11,300 meter (35,000 foot) ceiling. 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. So far, Super Tucanos worldwide have flown 157,000 hours, 15 percent of them in combat.
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 is taking over.