Leidos has entered into a teaming agreement with Paramount Group USA and Vertex Aerospace to offer the Bronco II multi-mission aircraft for the US Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM) Armed Overwatch program.
The company announcement comes after USSOCOM disclosed in February this year that it plans to buy an estimated 75 aircraft that would provide special operations forces (SOF) with close air support (CAS), precision strike, and SOF intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance (ISR) in austere and permissive environments.
As the prime contractor, Leidos said the Bronco II was built to meet the specific needs of USSOCOM.
Designed with roll-on, roll-off standards in mind, six personnel can disassemble the Bronco II into its shipping components and can reassemble the aircraft in the field in less than 12 hours, according to the partners.
The aircraft is built for austere and unpaved landing zones. A modular weapons system allows the Bronco II to carry a range of weapons configurations consisting of guided and unguided rockets, as well as precision munitions. It has six under-wing stations, with a load capacity of over 600 lbs.
A notable feature of the aircraft is a reconfigurable conformal mission bay in the belly of the aircraft with interchangeable modules.
“Our collaboration with Vertex and Leidos will present best of capabilities for what will undoubtedly be a critical program to enable US Air Force Special Operations Command to deal effectively with the challenges and rigors of modern day asymmetrical warfare,” said Steve Griessel, CEO of Paramount Group USA. “The Bronco II was designed specifically for asymmetrical warfare and will operate at a fraction of the procurement and lifecycle costs of an aircraft with similar mission applications and capabilities.”
USSOCOM intends to organize a flight demonstration as part of the Armed Overwatch prototype project in November 2020. Up to four competitors will be awarded $4 million contracts for the demonstration phase, while one company could potentially be selected to deliver around 75 aircraft as part of the porgram.
Prior to Leidos’ announcement, likely participants included fixed-wing light attack aircraft like the Beechcraft AT-6 and Embraer A-29 Super Tucano.