The Vietnam War-era aircraft is used by the private contractor to train U.S. Air Force Joint Attack Terminal Controllers (JTACs).
In March 2020, Blue Air Training, a private contractor headquartered in Las Vegas, that provides CAS (Close Air Support) training to U.S. Air Force’s Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (and was the first and is still the only USAF contractor approved to employ live strafe), announced the acquisition of seven OV-10D+ Broncos to further support their mission.
The North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco was developed as a forward air control/counter insurgency aircraft during the Vietnam War. It first flew in July of 1965. 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. 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.
In a more recent U.S./coalition testing the legacy OV-10 Bronco distinguished itself as a highly effective and reliable urban counter-insurgency asset: in 2015, two of the OV-10 aircraft were flown in an experiment supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led international campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. While the specific locations and objectives of the experimental U.S. OV-10 strikes were not disclosed U.S. Central Command did confirm that the OV-10 Broncos flew 134 sorties, including 120 combat missions, over a span of 82 days beginning in May 2015. Interestingly, a U.S. Navy crew was reported to be flying these strikes. The Philippine Air Force used the legacy Bronco in airstrikes on Maute and Abu Sayyaf insurgents associated with ISIL in the city of Marawi in the Philippines in 2017.
But OV-10 have not yet reached the end of its operative life.
“Today, Blue Air Training is integrating the highly reliable, cost effective, multi-purpose light attack OV-10 Category E “jet class” into training missions,” an official statement by Blue Air dated Mar. 27, 2020, said. “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.”
Blue Air Training is adding Broncos to its CAS fleet in a configuration that includes 8 bombs, 7 rockets, 2000 rounds, FLIR and LINK-16. “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.
For sure, the highly reliable, cost effective, multi-purpose light attack aircraft was born to operate in the CAS role cooperating with Forward Air Controllers (FAC – a role that has now eveloved into JTACs) hence it can be extremely useful to train next generation of JATCs.
The following video, filmed by Rich Trajano (make sure to follow his YT channel for awesome videos shot at Nellis AFB and nearby airports) shows one of the Blue Air OV-10s, recovering at North Las Vegas airport, where the private contractor Broncos are based. The clip shows the aircraft landing and then taxiing to its parking lot: you get a glimpse at lots of interesting details.
Noteworthy, as shown in the images released back in March, the aircraft sports the markings of VMO-2, an observation squadron of the United States Marine Corps based at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan and Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California which saw their final combat in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and were deactivated on May 23, 1993.