Piper PA-48 Enforcer

The Piper PA-48 Enforcer is an American turboprop-powered light close air support aircraft built by Piper in the 1970s. It is a development of the World War II-era North American P-51 Mustang fighter. The Enforcer concept was originally created and flown as the Cavalier Mustang by David Lindsay, owner of Cavalier Aircraft, in response to the United States Air Force PAVE COIN program, but Cavalier did not have the manufacturing abilities to mass-produce the Enforcer, so the program was sold to Piper by Lindsay in 1970.

Seeking a company with mass production capability, the Turbo Mustang III, renamed the "Enforcer", was sold to Piper Aircraft in late 1970. Cavalier Aircraft Corp. was closed in 1971 so the founder/owner, David Lindsay, could help continue develop the Enforcer concept with Piper. Piper was able to lease a Lycoming T55-L-9 engine from the USAF (the engine Lindsay wanted initially) and flew the aircraft some 200+ hours.

In 1971, Piper built two Enforcers by heavily modifying two existing Mustang airframes, fitting them with Lycoming YT55-L-9A turboprop engines along with numerous other significant modifications. One airframe was a single seat (called the PE-1 and FAA registered as N201PE), the other a dual-control aircraft (the PE-2, registered N202PE). Prior to the Pave COIN evaluation, N202PE was lost in a crash off the Florida coast on 12 July 1971 due to flutter caused by a Piper-modified elevator trim tab. Although the Enforcer performed well in the 1971–1972 Pave COIN test flown by USAF pilots, Piper failed to secure a USAF contract.

In 1984, with a $US12 million appropriation from Congress, Piper built two new Enforcers, giving the new prototypes the designation PA-48. These aircraft were evaluated by the USAF, but flown only by Piper test pilots.

By the time the PA-48s were completed, they shared less than 10 percent of their structure with the P-51, and were longer and larger. The PA-48 Enforcer was a completely new aircraft.

The two PA-48s were tested during 1983 and 1984 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and Edwards Air Force Base, California. As in the Pave COIN tests of 1971, the PA-48s were found to perform well in their intended role, but the Air Force again decided not to purchase the aircraft.

Of the four prototype aircraft produced, two still exist. In 2014, PA-48 N482PE completed restoration and is on display at the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards Air Force Base. N481PE has been fully restored and is currently in storage at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.