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.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines still uses OV-10 Broncos for close-air support (CAS) missions. The latest engagement was the Marawi Siege in 2017 when ISIS-Maute terrorist got hold of the city for four months. AFP’s aging Broncos have proven its worth in combat and its combat capability despite no high-tech munitions and delivery system is still something to behold.