In 1963 the army, navy and air force of United States anounced the specification of a new aircraft, called "LARA" (Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft). The concept of such aircraft was originated by two retired marine airmen: K.P. Rice and H.Beckett, who's idea called for creating a small aircraft capable of operating together with the ground forces, using roads for runways, and also using the same fuel and ammo as the ground forces. 11 prototypes were entered for the competition, which was won by North American (later Rockwell) NA-300, later designated by American armed forces OV-10 Bronco. The first flight of this aircraft ocurred on July 16th, 1965. Unfortunately, 40 feet wingspan required by Department of Defence and high take-off weight made it impossible to use the aircraft as intended by it's original concept, but still the capabilities offered by the OV-10 efficiently filled the gap between helicopters and jets.
OV-10 conducted such missions as observation, forward air control (FAC), helicopter escort, armed reconnesaince, artillery spotting and transport (the aircraft has a small cargo bay aft of the cockpit) and, on small scale, attack. Prototype smokescreen-laying machine, tried in Vietnam was so successfull, that the unit using it didn't want to turn it back for several months.
Main users of the OV-10 were US Marines and USAF. A small number of OV-10 was also used in Vietnam by the US Navy. USAF limits the use of the OV-10 to observation and forward air control (FAC), the Marines and the Navy also use it more offensively. Many airmen flying the OV-10 express the opinion, that the capabilities of the machine were underutilized for political reasons, such as disputes between USAF, Army and Marines, and also the tendency of the planners to favor jets, which could be partially replaced by the OV-10. It remained in American service until mid-nineties.
|Length:||12 670 mm|
|Height:||4 620 mm|
|Wing span:||12 190 mm|
|Empty weight:||3 161 kg|
|Maximum takeoff weight:||6 563 kg|
|Propulsion:||Two Garrett-AiResearch turboprop engines, T76-G-10 (left) and T76-G-12 (right), 533 kW shaft power each|
|Armament:||Four M60C 7,62mm machine guns; Seven external armament stations with total 1633 kg capacity, capable of carrying bombs, rockets and gun pods.|
|Max speed:||452 km/h|