Landing gear mishap unlikely to affect Bronco II’s chances in SOCOM competition


A Bronco II intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft that suffered a landing gear mishap whilst undergoing preventive maintenance earlier this month is still in the running for the United States Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM’s) Armed Overwatch competition.

The Bronco II prototype has been flying demonstration flights in the United States as part of the Armed Overwatch competition, which could see up to 75 aircraft acquired. After several successful flights, the aircraft was parked on the ground on 9 July when it suffered minor damage to its landing gear, according to a photo obtained by Aviation Week.

A Leidos spokesperson told Aviation Week the aircraft suffered minor damage “during a preventative maintenance action.” It is not clear if human error or a technical problem was responsible, although it could be a combination of both.

“We are working with the customer to complete the necessary inspection and continue showcasing the advanced capabilities of this aircraft,” the Leidos spokesperson said. It is expected the aircraft will be flying again in the next few days.

The Bronco II is the United States version of the Paramount Advanced High-performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (Ahrlac) and armed Mwari variant, being offered by Leidos and its team, which includes Paramount USA.

Leidos, Paramount USA, and Vertex were among five teams awarded a total of $19.3 million for prototype demonstrations under the Armed Overwatch programme. The other teams are Textron Aviation Defence with its AT-6E Wolverine, L3 with its AT-802U Sky Warden, MAG Aerospace with its MC-208 Guardian and Sierra Nevada Corporation with its M28/C-145 Wily Coyote.

SOCOM on 14 May announced that demonstrations would be carried out at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida between 14 June and 23 July. Special Operations Command revealed its Armed Overwatch programme in February 2020. SOCOM previously evaluated the OV-10G+ Bronco in a field test in Iraq in 2015 as it pursues a light attack capability. The command is looking to budget $101 million for the first new light attack aircraft with another ten per year for the next seven years.