Blue Air Training has just announced their acquisition of seven North American Rockwell OV-10 Broncos which they will use on contracts to help train U.S. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC). The company is integrating the highly reliable, cost effective, multi-purpose light attack OV-10 Category E “jet class” into training missions. Blue Air Training has specialized in Close Air Support mission profiles, a role in which the OV-10 Bronco will excel since it was originally designed as a counter-insurgency and forward air controller platform during the Vietnam War. The versatility and reliability of the Bronco make this aircraft an ideal Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training platform, with in-theater endurance topping five hours.
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 can carry up to 3,200 lb of external munitions, internal loads such as paratroopers or stretchers, and loiter for three or more hours. Speed was to be from very slow to medium subsonic, with much longer loiter times than a pure jet. The airframe was to be designed to avoid the back blast. The OV-10 had a central nacelle containing pilots and cargo, and twin booms containing twin turboprop engines.
The Bronco’s missions included observation, forward air control, helicopter escort, armed reconnaissance, gunfire spotting, utility and ground attack. The OV-10 was used for decades and flew with three branches of the military, the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines, along with several allied militaries. Besides the military, other U.S. agencies who flew the OV-10 include NASA, State Department Air Wing, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to name a few. Most recently, U.S. Special Forces have used the OV-10 in several operations in active theaters combating ISIS.
“As a career A-10 Pilot, I’ve always had a tremendous respect and appreciation for the OV-10 Bronco. Its unique look and mission focused design rings true to my heart. In our configuration of 8 bombs, 7 rockets, 2000 rounds, FLIR and LINK-16 there is no wonder why this aircraft was recently selected to take the fight to ISIS. For those very reasons the seven OV-10D+ and OV-10G Broncos we are adding to the Blue Air Close Air Support fleet are undeniably the best JTAC training platform in the air, anywhere.“ – Founder and CEO, James “Chef” Barlow.
The newly acquired North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco fleet is known to include two currently airworthy Broncos: former USMC OV-10D+ Bu.155493, which the OV-10 Squadron recently restored to flight, and OV-10G Bu.155409, lately of the Valiant Air Command. The identities of the other five Broncos which Blue Air Training has acquired are unconfirmed at present. Blue Air Training has been in operation since 2011, and has a well-established reputation. They have been operating a number of other types, including the BAC Strikemaster, IAR 823 and A-90 Raider. They also recently acquired six former Royal Australian Air Force Pilatus PC-9 trainers to add to their fleet as well.