In May 2015, the Pentagon initiated a secret program dubbed Combat Dragon II. $20 million was allocated to activate an experimental unit of two OV-10s, acquired from NASA and the State Department. Its purpose: to test the viability of the low-cost, Vietnam-era OV-10 Bronco in combat scenarios against ISIS. The primary weapon during the aircraft’s deployment to Iraq was 7- and 19-tube rocket pods loaded with the highly accurate laser-guided 70mm Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II rocket, or APKWS II. Two OV-10Gs were assigned for light attack operations in Iraq under the “Combat Dragon II” program and completed 120 missions.
The OV-10 Bronco is the Swiss Army Knife of military aviation, faster than a helicopter, more maneuverable than a jet, and able to provide optimal support for troops on the ground in the most difficult of environments. The North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco is an American twin-turboprop light attack and observation aircraft. It was developed in the 1960s as a special aircraft for counter-insurgency (COIN) combat, and one of its primary missions was as a forward air control (FAC) aircraft. It could carry up to three tons of external munitions, internal loads such as paratroopers or stretchers, and could loiter for three or more hours.