“Super Toucan”: the “old bird” flying to Afghanistan

Since the United States launched the anti-terrorism war in 2001, various countries have launched various kinds of weapons, and some old-fashioned weapons have also appeared in the battlefield. Recently, four a-29b “super Toucan” turboprop combat attack aircraft received by the Afghan air force are one of the representatives. This kind of retro fighter still plays an important role in the global anti-terrorism battlefield. < / P > < p > in the impression of many people, there is no place for propeller fighters in modern war. This kind of old-fashioned fighter with “big fan” on its head and slow speed and weak firepower has no ability to resist the attack of high-speed and jet fighters. It is a foregone conclusion that it will be eliminated. In fact, the propeller never left the battlefield. It is even generally believed that the combat effectiveness and operation cost-effectiveness ratio of the old propeller attack aircraft are better than those of the attack UAV represented by predator. After the end of World War II, the old Douglas A-1 “SKYRAIDER” propeller fighter used by the US military played an important role in the Vietnam War. The close support combat capability of this aircraft exceeds that of many modern fighters. The reason is that although the speed of this propeller fighter is slow, it can stay in the air for a long time. In addition, the fuselage is equipped with thick armor, so it can shoot through enemy air defense fire and provide air cover for ground forces. In addition, this kind of fighter also has high maneuverability, once shot down a MiG-17 jet fighter. Since then, the US military has successively equipped several types of propeller fighters, such as the OV-10 “Mustang” reconnaissance and attack aircraft. This propeller aircraft, which is specially used for close support operations, has the advantages of long stay in the air, good flight performance and many weapons. It can not only coordinate air to ground operations, but also directly engage in ground attack operations. The two seat design is more suitable for low altitude operations. Because of this, many countries in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia have introduced propeller fighters one after another after the 1980s. The cost of using this old fighter is very low. Take at-802u “aerial tractor” as an example, the cost of flying per hour is only 400 US dollars, and the maintenance cost is lower. It is mostly used in anti drug, anti-terrorism and other low-intensity operations. < p > < p > in the rainforests of South America, there are armed men and drug dealers. The dense jungle has set up a natural barrier for them, which is a headache for governments all over the world. In the early 1980s, Embraer developed a “Toucan” primary trainer for the air force to replace the old t-34c trainer. Due to its advanced design, excellent performance and high safety, the aircraft has been introduced by dozens of countries such as the United States, Britain and Egypt. Subsequently, on the basis of the “Toucan” primary trainer, Embraer launched a “super Toucan” attack aircraft, which successfully flew for the first time in 1992. It is equipped with a Pratt & Whitney pt6a-68 / 3 turboprop engine with a power of 1600 HP. It uses a stepped two seat layout and a bubble canopy. The two pilots have a good view of the air. Under the wing, 1.5 tons of bombs can be mounted, including ordinary bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided bombs and short-range air-to-air missiles. There are two 12.7 mm heavy machine guns in the wing for straying fire. The aircraft can fly continuously over the jungle for 7 hours and has strong airspace control capability. Once launched, the “super Toucan” attack plane has been sought after by Latin American and African countries, and has been equipped with air forces of Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Burkinabe and Mali. On December 24, 2019, seven soldiers were killed and many others were injured in an attack on a military base in northern part of the country. Subsequently, the air force of the country sent out “super Toucan” attack aircraft to cooperate with the French “mirage” 2000 fighter planes stationed in Mali, and soon repelled the siege. After the return of mirage 2000, the “super Toucan” attack plane remained near the base to carry out air patrol. < p > < p > according to the diplomat magazine, the cost of the super Toucan attack aircraft is relatively low from purchase, flight to maintenance. The cost of a single plane is about 18 million US dollars, and the cost of flying per hour is only $1000, which can be said to be very cost-effective. In July 2009, the U.S. air force launched the light attack / armed reconnaissance aircraft program. Due to the low starting point and low difficulty in the development of this kind of fighter, there are more than ten models in the bidding, including “super Toucan” attack aircraft and “super wild horse” attack aircraft. The Pentagon terminated the program in 2010 due to the mix of aircraft types. In 2011, the Pentagon launched the light air support program. This project is regarded as a continuation of the light attack / armed reconnaissance aircraft project. The “super Toucan” attack aircraft was finally selected, code named a-29, and the upgraded model was a-29b. Glass cabin and integrated avionics are used in the aircraft. Armor is added to the side of the cockpit, and the crew is protected by bulletproof fiber lining, which further improves the safety. The upgraded a-29b is used to support the Afghan air force. < / P > < p > so far, the Afghan air force has obtained 30 “super Toucan” attack aircraft, and another 6 will be delivered in February 2021. The aircraft shows high reliability in the plateau environment of Afghanistan. The airborne system is simple, durable and reliable. It can withstand extreme high temperature and other harsh environment. It has large fuel loading capacity and long range. Compared with UAV, this kind of light attack aircraft has more advantages in target recognition and task flexibility. < p > < p > although the Afghan air force has the right to use the “super Toucan” attack aircraft, it does not have absolute control over the aircraft, which is also a manifestation that the United States is not confident about the Afghan army. In addition, the training of pilots and logistics maintenance personnel also relies heavily on American contractors. According to the Pentagon’s latest quarterly report on “strengthening security and stability in Afghanistan”, Afghan Air Force personnel are only responsible for 30% of the maintenance work of the aircraft, and American pilots are often co piloted in combat to prevent Afghan Air Force pilots from piloting planes to attack the US military.