Washington: Two vintage planes used in the Vietnam War have been brought out of retirement to help US special forces in Iraq.
A pair of OV-10 Broncos completed 120 combat missions over the Middle East between May and September last year, it has been revealed.
The turbo-prop jet is thought to have carried out 134 sorties over 82 days in May, acting as cover for the soldiers fighting ISIS terrorists on the ground.
US Central Command would not confirm where they were based or the targets they attacked but said they were part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the American led operation against the extremists in Syria and Iraq.
The planes, which can take off at very short notice and fly very low, could be being used to assist American special forces, the Daily Beast reported.
The armament that can be fitted onto the plane includes, but is not limited to, machine guns carrying 2,000 rounds and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
They are thought to use this armament to gun down the extremists before they have a chance to flee the ground troops.
The US military is testing the Broncos in Iraq and Syria to see if they can replace the more expensive F-15s and F/A-18s which carry out most of the airstrikes in the countries, Central Command spokesman Force Captain P Bryant Davis told the Daily Beast.
Whereas an F-15 can cost up to $40,000 per flight, a Bronco can operate for just $1,000 for every hour it is in the air.
The OV-10, developed by the US as a small and cheap attack plane in the 1960s, was first used in Vietnam because they could take off from rough airfields near to the battlefront.
The Navy retired its Broncos conflict and the Air Force replaced them with jet powered A-10 aircraft until they too dropped them in the 1990s.
But 30 years after the Vietnam War, the Americans called on them yet again for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The military’s decision to plough $20million into the OV-10s in 2012 was blasted by many, including former presidential candidate John McCain who said ‘there is no urgent operational requirement for this type of aircraft’.
The jets completed 99 per cent of their missions during their 82 days of combat, Davis said.
Now, Lieutenant General Bradley Heithold, the head of the Air Force Special Operations Command, has suggested they will continued to be used in attack missions.
The aircraft made its debut in Vietnam in July 1965.
Bombing raid commanders known as forward air controllers used OV-10s to make observations in preparation for air raids during the conflict in Vietnam.
The highly-adaptable planes proved highly successful and performed dozens of missions for the US Navy and Air Force.
Eighty-one Broncos were lost during Vietnam but the aircraft have continued to be used by forces across the world ever since.
The planes can carry two crew members and have a maximum speed of 281mph.
The two that have been used in Iraq and Syria are thought to have come from Nasa, who snapped up the retired planes to carry out airborne tests, or the State Department, who had sent Broncos to Columbia in a bid to crackdown on drugs.