The Bronco Returns to Pax River

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The Bronco Returns to Pax River

Patuxent Naval Air Station - 4/12/2013

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By Mike Wilson

Not seen flying in the skies of Southern Maryland since January, 1978, an OV-10 Bronco built by North American Aircraft Operations, a division of Rockwell International, returned to NAS Patuxent River on Friday, March 22nd.

This aircraft, and a second one due to arrive later, are on loan from the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, for evaluation by the Naval Air Warfare Center here.

The Bronco was North American Aircraft’s answer to the Department of Defense (DoD) need for a Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (LARA) to perform the Counter Insurgency (COIN) mission in Vietnam.

The Bronco was flown by the United States Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force where it performed observation, forward air control, helicopter escort, armed reconnaissance, utility light air transport and limited ground attack. The aircraft had also performed aerial radiological reconnaissance, tactical air observation, artillery and naval gunfire spotting, airborne control of tactical air support operations, and front line, low-level aerial photography missions.

OV-10s were continuously aboard Pax River for testing or evaluation since the first one arrived April 8, 1968. Once the final test project was completed, however, the last remaining Bronco was used for pilot proficiency and logistics support until it finally departed for storage in “The Boneyard” at Davis–Monthan AFB on January 5, 1978.

The Bronco was retired from Marine Corps service in 1995 after their employment in the First Gulf War.

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