Souza then demonstrated the aircraft’s ability to couple the autopilot to follow a multi-leg flight plan at low altitude. This reduces pilot workload, providing more time to set up for weapons delivery. He then demonstrated the HUD’s continuously computed impact point, continuously computed release point and dive-toss attack modes.
The aircraft’s dual mission computers use radio altitude to estimate target elevation. However, the avionics system has an open architecture with generic Mil-Std-1553B and ARINC 429 multiplex data busses that can accommodate the latest versions of U.S.-spec Link-16 joint tactical information distribution system net-centric warfare communications equipment, including situation awareness data link and enhanced
position location reporting system gear.
After multiple runs on simulated targets, we returned to São José dos Campos to enter the overhead left break for pattern work. The aircraft proved easy to handle. We flew the pattern at 140 KIAS and typical final approach speeds were 108 to 109 KIAS. We also flew a couple of practice simulated engine-out landings using a 130-KIAS glide speed and no flaps.
The Super Tucano proved to be a strong finalist in the LAS program competition. But the USAF undoubtedly will consider many factors beside the raw merits of each aircraft.
Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer point out that more than 150 Super Tucanos are in service with seven customers, and that the fleet has amassed more than 100,000 flight hours, one-sixth of which have been in combat operations. The fleet has a 99.2% dispatch rate and an 86% full-mission capable availability, they assert.
Based on fleet statistics, Embraer claims that less than one maintenance staff hour is needed to support each flight hour.