The very successful use of the OV-10A Bronco in Southeast Asia has fueled interest in this turboprop attack aircraft from countries that have problems with various kinds of insurgents. Simultaneously with the sale of the basic version of the Bronco, used in Vietnam, export modifications were created for foreign buyers that meet the specific requirements of the customer.
However, sometimes "Bronco" was acquired not to fight the partisans. Twenty-four OV-10As were in service at the Luftwaffe. In West Germany, these aircraft were part of the 601st Tactical Wing, and their main tasks were reconnaissance and targeting of supersonic fighter-bombers. At the same time, the German pilots practiced striking ground targets and fighting helicopters. After a sufficient number of two-seat Alpha Jet attack aircraft were built in the FRG, the OV-10A turboprop was converted into air target towing vehicles, which received the designation OV-10B after the conversion.
German target towing vehicles had an additional glazed cockpit at the rear of the fuselage. Currently, these aircraft have been removed from service, bought by private individuals and regularly participate in various air shows.
If in Germany two-seater turboprop attack aircraft performed only training flights, in other countries they had a chance to fight. In the early 1970s, the Royal Thai Air Force received 32 new OV-10Cs. This model differed from the OV-10A in the cockpit equipment and a number of changes aimed at reducing the cost of operation. The main characteristics and armament of the aircraft remained the same as on the OV-10A.
OV-10C Thai Air Force
Thai “Bronco” were involved in patrolling the border with Cambodia and repeatedly attacked Vietnamese troops pursuing Khmer Rouge units in Thailand. It is reported that several aircraft were shot down and damaged by anti-aircraft machine gun fire and Strela-2M MANPADS. With the help of OV-10C, Thai authorities have tried to combat illicit opium production in the Golden Triangle, located in a mountainous area at the junction of the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. "Bronco" not only bombed and fired at the facilities where the processing and storage of narcotic raw materials and finished products was carried out, but also in a number of cases intercepted the aircraft on which the drugs were transported. In 2004, eight of the least worn Thai OV-10Cs were handed over to the Philippines, the remaining 11 aircraft were decommissioned in 2011.
In the mid-1970s, Venezuela bought 10 overhauled OV-10A, after a while 16 new OV-10E were added to them. It is not known whether the Venezuelan Broncoes were used for their intended purpose (to fight the partisans), but they were actively noted in the attempted military coup.
OV-10A Venezuelan Air Force
In February 1992, during another rebellion, one of the organizers of which was Colonel Hugo Chavez, the OV-10A / E of the coup, together with light attack aircraft EMB 312 Tucano and T-2D Buckeye, attacked the presidential palace, the Foreign Ministry building and the army barracks of the remaining units loyal to the president. In several approaches, the rebel pilots fired at ground targets with 70-mm NAR, and dropped 113 kg of bombs. At the same time, one Bronco was shot down by the fire of 12,7-mm quadruple anti-aircraft machine-gun mounts M45 Quadmount, the crew ejected and was captured. Several more attack aircraft were damaged. On the same day, F-16A fighter pilot Lieutenant Vielma shot down two OV-10Es. Despite the obvious threat in the air, the turboprop attack aircraft continued their work. However, danger lurked them almost everywhere: the next OV-10E was damaged by the fire of large-caliber machine guns. One engine stalled, but the crew decided to land the attack aircraft on the other. It seemed that luck was close, however, 300 meters before the runway, the second engine also failed, two pilots had no choice but to eject. Another Bronco was hit by a Roland SAM missile. The pilot released the landing gear and began to move away from the city, trying to bring down the fire. Despite the pilot's efforts, it was not possible to land the attack aircraft, it crashed directly onto the runway of the Baracuisimento airbase. After the failure of the coup, several rebel planes flew to Peru, but they were later returned to Venezuela.
Currently, the Air Force of the Bolivarian Republic has four OV-10Es. These aircraft from the 15th Special Operations Air Group are stationed at Maracaibo Air Force Base, near the border with Colombia. In the past, it was planned to replace them with Brazilian-made A-29A Super Tucano turboprop attack aircraft. However, the deal fell through due to US opposition.
Especially for Indonesia in 1975, the OV-10F attack aircraft was created. In total, this country has bought 12 cars of this modification. The most notable difference from the OV-10A was the more powerful built-in weaponry. Instead of 7,62 mm machine guns, 10 mm machine guns were installed on the OV-12,7F.
Indonesian Air Force OV-10F in the air
In 1977, these aircraft were deployed at Lanud Abdulrahman Saleh airbase in Malang. The Malaysian Broncoes played an important role in the invasion of East Timor. At the same time, missile and bomb strikes were inflicted not only on the positions of the armed East Timorese formations FALINTIL, but also on villages with civilians.
OV-10F on display at the Indonesian Air Force Museum
OV-10F service continued until 2015, after which they were replaced by the A-29A Super Tucano. Before decommissioning, two Indonesian Broncoes crashed in flight accidents. Currently, one turboprop attack aircraft is on display at the Indonesian Air Force Museum in Jakarta.
In 1981, six used OV-10A entered service with the Royal Moroccan Air Force. These aircraft were refurbished and based at the Marrakech Menara dual-use airport.
OV-10A Moroccan Air Force
It was assumed that turboprop attack aircraft would be used against POLISARIO units in Western Sahara. In total, it was planned to purchase 24 Bronco for this. Twin turboprop aircraft performed well against transport convoys at night. But such raids were risky enough. Thanks to the generous financial and technical support from Algeria and Libya, the POLISARIO front had at its disposal modern air defense systems: 12,7 and 14,5 mm anti-aircraft machine guns, 23-mm twin anti-aircraft guns, Strela-2M MANPADS, mobile anti-aircraft missile systems "Osa-AKM" and "Kvadrat". Several Fouga Magister combat trainers and Mirage F-1970 and F-1980A / E fighters fell victim to these modern air defense systems by the standards of the 1-5s.
Shortly after the turboprop attack aircraft made several sorties, one aircraft was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. After this incident, "Bronco" tried not to attract for strikes in the daytime and reoriented to conduct reconnaissance and patrol the obstacles built by the Moroccan military in the desert. All OV-10A of the Moroccan Air Force were decommissioned in the early 21st century.
In the late 1980s, the Philippine Air Force was forced to part with the extremely worn-out piston anti-guerrilla attack aircraft AT-28D Trojan. These aircraft were actively used against the left and Islamic rebels, and also fought against piracy. In 1991, Manila received 24 OV-10A, previously stored at Davis Montan. "Bronco" was very intensively exploited, and in the mid-1990s another 9 turboprop attack aircraft arrived in the Philippines. In 2004, Thailand handed over eight OV-10Cs to replace exhausted vehicles. In 2009, nine OV-10A / C were overhauled.
OV-10C Philippine Air Force
According to the Philippine Air Force, the OV-10A / C attack aircraft are primarily designed to provide direct aviation supporting ground and naval forces, conducting tactical aerial reconnaissance, delivering missile and bomb strikes against enemy targets and ensuring the deployment of combat-ready forces in the areas of operations at the request of the higher headquarters. However, in fact, the Filipino "Bronco" was engaged in the fight against all sorts of rebel groups, suppression of illegal shipping and piracy in territorial waters.
At the beginning of the 21st century, all OV-10A / C were consolidated into the 16th Attack Eagles strike squadron. The home of the "Attacking Eagles" is the Danilo Atienza airbases near Manila and Lumbia in the province of East Misamis.
Satellite image of Google Earth: OV-10A / C at Danilo Atienza airbase
In 2000, the Broncoes played a decisive role in the campaign to defeat the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) camps in central Mindanao and in the pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in western Mindanao.
Upgraded OV-10C of the Philippine Air Force
To extend the service life and increase the combat potential, part of the Philippine Bronco went through a modernization program associated with refurbishment. The aircraft received 6 hp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT67A-1020 engines. with four-bladed propellers and new onboard equipment.
Two counterinsurgency aircraft were adapted for use by the American Raytheon Enchanced Paveway series of UABs with a laser guidance system. In 2011, 22 sets of such UABs were donated to the Philippines under an aid program.
In early February 2012, guided bombs were used to attack an Islamic militant camp on Holo Island. The last case of combat use of Bronco in the Philippines was recorded in June 2017, when Attacking Eagles bombed the positions of Islamist militants in the vicinity of the city of Maravi, in the north of the country.
OV-10A of the Philippine Air Force before a combat mission
According to official data, during the entire service period, not a single Filipino Bronco was lost from enemy fire. However, two aircraft crashed in flight accidents. The exact number of capable Broncos in the Philippines is unknown. A number of experts believe that 4-5 aircraft can take to the air to perform a combat mission, although there are 9 aircraft in service. Ground-bound stormtroopers are most likely used as a source of spare parts. In 2018, the issue of the transfer of several modernized OV-10G + combat aircraft was discussed with the United States. Machines of this type have been used with success in Iraq against the Islamists. However, the command of the Philippine Air Force preferred to purchase the new A-29A Super Tucano.
In 1991, the United States supplied Colombia with 24 OV-10A, three more vehicles, delivered in the mid-1990s, were used as a source of spare parts. There are almost no details about the service of the Colombian Bronco in open sources. Turboprop attack aircraft provided direct air support to army units during operations against armed units of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Army of National Liberation (ELN), and were also used to suppress drug trafficking. During their heyday in the 1990s, the FARC and ELN groups controlled about 45% of the country's territory.
Colombian Air Force OV-10A
Subsequently, several OV-10A were upgraded to the OV-10D standard. One aircraft was lost in battle, and several more were seriously damaged. In November 2015, after 24 years of service, the Colombian Air Force decommissioned all remaining OV-10 aircraft. Now their functions are assigned to the Brazilian-made A-29A Super Tucano turboprop attack aircraft.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, American special forces were involved in operations to combat the production and distribution of cocaine in Central and South America. At the same time, they were provided with air support by combat squadrons of the US Air Force. It is reliably known that the American Bronco were stationed at air bases in Colombia and Honduras.
OV-10A light attack aircraft from the 27th US Air Force Tactical Support Aviation Squadron in Honduran airspace, May 1988
In the United States, in addition to military use, about two dozen disarmed Broncoes were transferred to the fire brigade. In most cases, the OV-10A painted in red and white color correct the discharge of extinguishing liquid from heavy aircraft and search for sources of fire.
Several machines were used by NASA in a research program to study the propagation of noise during flights at low altitude and the effect of turbulence on aircraft control at minimum flight speed. One Bronco remained in service at NASA Langley AFB in 2009.
Taking into account the fact that OV-10A, more than two decades after the start of mass production, did not fully meet the requirements, the question arose of modernizing the aircraft. First of all, it was about expanding reconnaissance and search capabilities. Certain developments for this were carried out shortly before the withdrawal of American troops from Southeast Asia. In 1972, two converted turboprop attack aircraft transferred to the USMC VMO-2 squadron were undergoing combat tests in the Da Nang area. The aircraft, equipped with an infrared vision system and a laser rangefinder-target designator, hunted for trucks at night on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Although the sighting and surveillance equipment did not always work reliably, the experiment was considered successful. However, in connection with the end of hostilities, the hopes of the North American leadership for a large military order did not materialize.
In the early 1970s, an attempt was made to sell the Bronco with night search engines to South Korea. This country was experiencing difficulties in intercepting the North Korean An-2, on which saboteurs were thrown. Low-speed piston biplanes flying at low altitude at night were not detected by ground-based radars along mountain gullies. The South Korean military was interested in the Bronco equipped with an IR system and capable of intercepting light aircraft at night and fighting helicopters. An order was issued for 24 aircraft, but then it was canceled. Instead of turboprop attack aircraft, the Republic of Korea purchased AH-1 Cobra helicopters, and the problem of detecting low-altitude air targets began to be solved by deploying radar posts on the tops of mountain ranges.
A number of sources say that in 1978, the USMC acquired 24 modernized Bronco. There is a high probability that these were aircraft that the Republic of Korea abandoned.
The upgraded OV-10D attack aircraft differed from the early OV-10A modification in the composition of avionics, engines, armament and an elongated nose. The aircraft was equipped with Garret T76-G-420/421 engines with a capacity of 1040 hp. In addition to the already mentioned night infrared system and a laser rangefinder-target designator, a radar warning station, equipment for shooting heat traps and dipole reflectors appeared on board. Illumination of the target with a laser made it possible to use guided aviation ammunition.
On some aircraft, a turret with a three-barreled 20-mm M-197 cannon was mounted in the aft fuselage from below. OV-10D attack aircraft entered service with VMO-2 squadron and VMO-4 reserve squadron of the Marine Corps. In 1985, the takeoff and landing of the OV-10D turboprop from the Saratoga aircraft carrier were practiced. In the future, the option of basing the "Bronco" on amphibious helicopter carriers was considered, but these plans did not come true.
The Broncos took part in Operation Desert Storm in January-February 1991 as forward air targeting aircraft. During the campaign, Iraqi air defenses shot down two vehicles.
Although the US Department of Defense actively disposed of aircraft during the Vietnam War in the 1990s and the US Air Force removed the Bronco from service in 1991, turboprop attack aircraft, albeit in small numbers, remained in the Marine Corps aviation until 1995, after which they transferred to storage. But, apparently, several attack aircraft remained in flight condition in the centers of combat training of the US Navy and the USMC.
Satellite image of Google Earth: OV-10 Bronco at Fallon AFB
Despite its considerable age, from time to time, attempts were made to "revive" the Bronco, since the need for such aircraft is quite tangible. In the late 1990s, several attack aircraft were upgraded to OV-10D +. The dial gauges were replaced with modern avionics, and new communication and satellite navigation systems appeared at the crew's disposal. The fuselage and wing were reinforced.
NAR start with OV-10D +
In 2009, Boeing introduced the OV-10X combat aircraft, which retains the Bronco airframe, but installed new engines, modern onboard equipment, and high-precision weapons included in the armament. As part of the Combat Dragon II program, the attack aircraft received a "glass cockpit", an encrypted radio communication system and Link-16 tactical data transmission channels, as well as an additional fuel tank. In the bow, the MX-15HD FLIR optoelectronic multichannel station was placed, which is capable of detecting and tracking targets in the daytime and at night. In addition to the OEMS, pilots use the new Scorpion helmet-mounted night vision systems. The cost of upgrading two aircraft was $ 20 million.
The new OV-10G + fire control system allows the crew to use small-caliber laser-guided missiles, which replaced the unguided 70-mm NAR, and the AGM-114 Hellfire ATGM is also included in the ammunition load. With regard to small-caliber aviation ammunition, it is known that the OV-10G + can carry up to 38 such missiles - 19 in each launcher. To destroy fortified targets - bunkers, command posts buried in the ground and reinforced concrete hangars, Bronco crews can use laser-guided concrete bombs Paveway II (weight 454 kg) or Paveway IV (weight 227 kg). Since the aircraft's OMS includes a GPS global positioning system module, it is possible to use adjustable JDAM bombs. Avionics OV-10G + allows you to process information coming from reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles used by MTR units. To protect against anti-aircraft missiles with thermal guidance, in addition to IR traps, it is possible to suspend a container with a laser countermeasure system.
According to information published in the media, OV-10G + turboprop attack aircraft flew 2015 sorties in Iraq in 132, and in 120 of them successfully hit their targets. These combat aircraft were flown by the pilots of the US Navy's 6th Air Training Wing. An important fact is that the cost of a flight hour of the upgraded Bronco was many times cheaper than other combat aircraft and was approximately $ 1000. For comparison: one hour of use of the MQ-9A UAV at that time was $ 4762, the A-10C attack aircraft - $ 17716, and the AC-130U “gunship” - $ 45986.
DynCorp International is the largest private operator of OV-10A / D aircraft in the United States. In the past, the company has provided services to the US military in Bolivia, Bosnia, Somalia, Angola, Haiti, Colombia, Kosovo and Kuwait. DynCorp International trained technical personnel for the Iraqi and Afghan Air Forces.
OV-10D at Patrick AFB
The Bronco, formerly part of the Marine Corps, under contract with the US Department of State are involved in counter-drug operations and other delicate missions outside the US. The aircraft have civil registration numbers and, according to the official version, weapons have been dismantled from them. At the same time, several OV-10Ds retained search optoelectronic night vision systems. Cab protection is reinforced with additional Kevlar armor. A tank for defoliants can be installed in the cargo compartment, with which plantations of narcotic plants are treated. DynCorp International's OV-10A / D main location is Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.
Aircraft OV-10D + private aviation company Blue Air Training
In March 2020, the private aviation company Blue Air Training acquired seven OV-10D + / G aircraft. In addition to the process of teaching foreign cadets to attack ground targets, the Bronco, which retained the weapon assemblies, can be used to perform various missions in third world countries and simulate enemy aircraft during exercises. Refurbishment works for the Bronco are carried out at workshops at Chinno Airport in California.
Thus, the turboprop attack aircraft, created to counter the Viet Cong more than 50 years ago, is still in demand. Its combat effectiveness has been significantly increased due to the introduction of modern sighting and search, navigation and communication systems. New, fuel-efficient turboprop engines with increased power have improved flight performance. The use of Kevlar and ceramic armor in combination with jamming equipment made it possible to increase survivability.