The Bronco Combat Systems (BCS) "Bronco II" is a rebranded version of the original Paramount Group AHRLAC (Mwari) Close-Air Support (CAS) / light attack platform (detailed elsewhere on this site) of South African origin. The new Bronco II emerged through a U.S-focused rebranding in 2018 set against a USAF light attack requirement and is currently (2020) being marketed for consideration to fulfill the United State Special Operations COMmand (USSOCOM) "Armed Overwatch" light-strike requirement. Leidos is leading the team with Paramount Group (U.S.) and Vertex Aerospace as sub-contractors. The flying portion of the competition is set to begin November 2020.
The South African Mwari aircraft was born in 2009 but has since failed to net any global interest.
The Bronco II name is an homage to the original North American Rockwell (now Boeing) "Bronco" twin-engine / twin-boom light attack / observation aircraft which first-flew in July of 1965 and saw considerable service during the American involvement in the Vietnam War (1955-1975). 360 units were built in all with the Philippine Air Force still flying the type despite production having ended in 1986.
The BCS Bronco II was originally known by the name of "Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft".
The Bronco II continues to showcase the form-and-function of the original Mwari design. It seats its crew of two in tandem under an unobstructed clear view canopy. The rear crewmember (co-pilot) is elevated in the arrangement with a view over the front seat. The short nose assembly also aids the forward crewmember (pilot) by providing exception vision of the terrain ahead. At the "chin" position of the aircraft is an optional sensor fit while another trainable unit, also optional, is seated under the fuselage further aft. The wing mainplanes are straight in their general shape and mounted at shoulder-height along the fuselage sides, providing excellent short-field performance and aiding "low-and-slow" flying envelopes. The mainplanes also exhibit slight forward sweeping.
The aircraft maintains compact dimensions that allow it to be broken down and shipped by Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" turboprop-powered tactical transports. A single example can fit in its hold. Up to two aircraft can be transported through the larger Boeing C-17 "Globemaster III" series jet-powered strategic transports.
The engine is buried within the aft section of the fuselage nacelle and drives a multi-bladed propeller unit at the rear in a "pusher" arrangement. This leaves the forward section (and its accompanying views) completely unobstructed by spinning propeller blades.
Each main wing member supports a tail boom which extends to the rear. These appendages are joined by a shared horizontal plane and are capped by vertical rudder planes.
For ground-running, a conventional wheeled tricycle arrangement is used. The arrangement is partially retractable into the design with some of the wheel surfaces exposed during flight.
The armament suite of the Bronco II runs the gamut of in-service weaponry commonly associated with the CAS role. Ordnance is spread about six underwing hardpoints with three hardpoints assigned to each wing member. Ordnance options include gun pods, cannon pods, rocket pods, conventional drop bombs, precision-guided munitions, Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs), Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) (short-ranged types).
Other options include mission-support equipment such as targeting pods. A modular bay under the aircraft allows for "quick-changing" of the mission fit allowing the aircraft to undertake dedicated reconnaissance or attack sorties as needed.
The USSOCOM program is attempting to find a low-cost, light-attack / reconnaissance platform supplying ground forces with capable on-the-spot CAS.
February 2018 - The Bronco II program launched.
May 2018 - Aviall has joined the Bronco Combat Systems team.
September 2021 - The Bronco II has been eliminated as a contender in the USAF's Armed Overwatch program.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
Houses, or can house (through specialized variants), radar equipment for searching, tracking, and engagement of enemy elements.
Survivability enhanced by way of onboard electronic or physical countermeasures enacted by the aircraft or pilot/crew.
Survivability enhanced by armor allocated to protect pilot / crewspaces and / or critical operating systems.
Design incorporates rear-facing pusher-prop arrangement, a contrast to the more conventional puller-prop layout.
Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
Beyond a pilot, the aircraft takes advantage of additional crew specialized in specific functions aboard the aircraft.
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
34.4 ft (10.50 m)
39.4 ft (12.00 m)
13.1 ft (4.00 m)
8,818 lb (4,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Bronco Combat Systems Bronco II production variant)
monoplane / shoulder-mounted / straight
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted at the upper section of the fuselage, generally at the imaginary line intersecting the pilot's shoulders.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the base Bronco Combat Systems Bronco II production variant)
Hybrid-electric arrangement involving 1 x Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engine with battery bank driving five-bladed propeller unit at rear of fuselage in "pusher" arrangement.
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