Shortly after I first published this article the Bronco was retired from service. This article makes a good case that something similar is still needed. If a new aircraft is to be built then the short wing and large diameter propellers of the Cornvair Model 48 Charger are worth consideration.
The Super Bronco
There was a nice article on the OV-10 Bronco in the April edition of G2mil.
The forward part of the Bronco has always reminded me of the Hueycobra. Following this train of thought- might not this component of the AH-1 and its associated equipment be used in a Bronco? The nose turret could mount a FLIR and laser designator. The chin turret something like a .50 Gatling. Further back under the hull mount a turret with a 20mm (or 25mm) cannon as on the Night gunship Broncos. This is a versatile configuration rather like that of the Cheyenne helicopter gunship. (In retrospect I would opt just for the 25mm turret, allowing the Super Bronco to keep its distance from ground-mounted HMGs and utilize orbiting fire.)
The Bronco was a Tri-service development, and in fact has something to offer every service.
Let's recap some of the things a Bronco can do :- It has a speed of 305 knots -twice that of a helicopter and can carry 2400lb (more than a ton) ordinance. It's tougher than a helicopter and can take off in just 345m (1,130ft). The turret configuration I propose for the Super Bronco allows fire equal in accuracy to that of a helicopter. It could also mount precision guided weapons such as Hellfire, Brimstone and Griffin.
Roles that a Bronco can perform include :- observation, surveillance, patrol, FAC, artillery spotter, Casevac, personnel and cargo transport, helicopter escort, gunship and ground attack bomber.
Although classed as a CO-IN aircraft many of these roles it can even perform on a high intensity battlefield.
For the Coast Guard the Bronco can be used as a Patrol plane and to pursue drug smuggling speed boats. Armed helicopters have been used in the latter role, but a Bronco can police a far greater area. On a less bellicose note, the rear area of the fuselage can carry an Aid package for distressed boats Liferaft, survival kit and a locator beacon.
For the USMC I'd be very surprised if the Bronco can't be operated from amphibious carriers such as the Tawara class vessels.
The Super Bronco can also serve as a helicopter killer -because of the turreted weapons many of the helicopter's usual defensive tactics against fixed wing aircraft simply won't work. The Bronco doesn't need to dive to keep its guns trained on a helicopter, or even fly towards the helicopter to fire on it.
Other Support Aircraft Ideas.