New team offers Bronco II aircraft to US special forces


Leidos, Paramount Group USA and Vertex Aerospace have teamed up to pursue a new contract to offer the Bronco II intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and light attack aircraft to the US Special Operations Command’s Armed Overwatch programme.

The strategic partnership was announced on 4 May and sees Leidos as the prime contractor and Paramount and Vertex as primary teammates. The Bronco II would be manufactured in Crestview, Florida and designed to meet the specific needs of US Special Operations Command.

“Leidos has a long history as a premier provider of airborne solutions,” said Gerry Fasano, Leidos Defense Group president. “The Bronco II demonstrates our commitment to providing the best-of-breed in technology, as well as our agility in meeting the needs of our country’s national security missions. This offering will leverage each company’s expertise to deliver cost-effective innovations for the warfighter.”

“Our collaboration with Vertex and Leidos will present best of capabilities for what will undoubtedly be a critical program to enable US Air Force Special Operations Command to deal effectively with the challenges and rigors of modern day asymmetrical warfare,” said Steve Griessel, CEO of Paramount Group USA. “The Bronco II was designed specifically for asymmetrical warfare and will operate at a fraction of the procurement and lifecycle costs of an aircraft with similar mission applications and capabilities.”

Paramount Group, through Paramount Group USA, first tried to enter the US market with the Ahrlac in 2016 when it partnered with Boeing and in 2018 established Bronco Combat Systems USA with Fulcrum Concepts, hoping to sell the Ahrlac/Bronco II to the US Air Force for its Light Attack Aircraft and other programmes.

Vertex Aerospace, formerly a business unit of L3 Technologies) offers maintenance, life support, aerostructures fabrication and aircraft integration services. Leidos says it specialises in information technology, engineering, and science solutions and targets the defence, intelligence, homeland security, civil, and health markets. Additional partners for the Bronco II platform include Leonardo DRS, Dynetics, Beast Code, Fulcrum Concepts, and Concord XXI aviation flight training.

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) hopes to buy up to 75 light attack aircraft under its Armed Overwatch programme that was revealed in February this year. Special Operations Command 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.

Other aircraft are also vying for the Armed Overwatch contract, including Embraer/Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Super Tucano and Textron’s AT-6 Wolverine. SOCOM plans to conduct a flight demonstration as part of its Armed Overwatch light-attack aircraft prototype project in November 2020.