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Author Topic: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.  (Read 38652 times)

Offline Bruno Anthony

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F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« on: November 01, 2012, 07:05:22 pm »
The F/A-16.  I like the concept and its HMS.  There are more informed people here than me about this plane, so what does the forum think?

Aside from my 2 opinion cents, I can provide AvWeek and Aerospace Daily articles from back in the day.

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2012, 11:07:46 am »
All I know about the CAS F-16 proposals is from F-16.net:

"A-16, F/A-16, F-16A (30mm gun)"
http://www.f-16.net/f-16_versions_article18.html

And it's not complimentary. Just schemes to dispose of the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II in the United States Air Force inventory.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 11:17:12 am by DonaldM »

Offline Bruno Anthony

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2012, 11:23:12 am »
Quote

A-16's LACK OF BROAD ACCEPTANCE FRUSTRATES GEN. WELCH
525 words
30 January 1989

Aerospace Daily
ASD
Vol. 20, No. 20
English
Copyright 1989 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Larry D. Welch, frustrated by extended studies of close air support requirements, said the A-16 variant of the General Dynamics F-16 fighter will do the job but many in Washington choose not to believe it.

In an unusually frank response to a question at an Air Force Association symposium in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Welch said that he and Gen. Robert D. Russ, head of Tactical Air Command, "have looked diligently at 28 candidates for close air support. There have been hundreds and hundreds of hours and some $27 million spent on just generating and examining those 28 candidates."

Welch said that "We have provided all that data to all of those (who think they understand the problem), who need all that information to arrive at their conclusion. They've been unable to do so. And you have a right to ask, 'why have they been unable to do so?' Very simple. The data does not say Mudfighter," the relatively inexpensive type of aircraft that many prefer over the A-16.

But, said Welch, "I don't give a damn how you slice that data. I don't give a damn how if you turn it upside down. I don't care how you look at it. The data does not say Mudfighter. The data says A-16."

And, "since the data doesn't say what (the so-called experts) want it to say, guess what we're doing? All this time while no decision is being made, we're buying F-16s.

"So, we're sort of in a strange situation. Those who don't want the F-16 as the primary close air support airplane ought to be determined to get an early decision. Those of us who think a version of the F-16 is the smart way to go ought to be perfectly content with" the whole exercise.

The situation, Welch said, confirms his view that in Washington, "it is a common management technique to save time in reaching a conclusion by omitting all the relevant facts."

A retired four-star general attending the symposium told The DAILY that the "unusual degree of asperity" in Welch's comments meant he was "tired of being sandbagged" on the issue. If delays continue, the former top officer said, the service may some day find itself unable to do an adequate job of close air support.

Lt. Gen. Michael J. Dugan, deputy chief of staff for plans and operations, echoed Welch's comments in another address at the symposium. He blasted "numerous CAS (close air support) experts on the Potomac" and said the U.S. is "about to enter the new negotiations on conventional forces in Europe with the Soviets in a position of advantage, or at least us in a position of operational deficiency--a deficiency that we need a close air support aircraft to respond to."

Dugan said that "For the future, under any budget climate, and especially in times of fiscal constraint and reduced force structures, the A-16 is the right answer...."



Quote
STUDIES COULD DELAY CAS AIRCRAFT BY THREE YEARS: GEN. DUGAN
1056 words
3 February 1989

Aerospace Daily
ASD
Vol. 149, No. 24
English
Copyright 1989 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

A series of studies of close air support requirements could delay introduction of a new CAS aircraft by at least three years, Lt. Gen. Michael J. Dugan, deputy chief of staff for plans and operations, reported.

Dugan, addressing an Air Force Symposium in Orlando, Fla., last week, traced the studies and stressed the importance of proceeding quickly with the Air Force's choice, the General Dynamics A-16.

He said the Air Force agrees with the Army's concept of the future battlefield--"fluid, non-linear, emphasizing mobility, speed, firepower, lethality and operations tempo of friendly forces"--and has committed 27% of its tactical fighter resources, more than 730 aircraft, to the CAS mission.

The A-16, he said, "may not be the perfect solution" to the Army's needs, "but it's damn close: it's proven, it's lethal, it's affordable, it's supportable (and) we have an in-place infrastructure...."

The A-10 doesn't meet evolving requirements and "can't be modified to meet them," he said. It "does just what we designed it to do" but is no longer adequate. The A-10 "isn't under-powered," he said, "it's over-dragged." The AF doesn't want "grandson of (the Douglas) A-1," nor is it "looking for son of A-10," Dugan said.

Not only must the AF "hit the target the first time and on the move," he said, it must do so in large numbers. The capability of fighter aircraft "is slashed" if they work singly or in small numbers, he said, but "this is the vision of the CAS experts on the Potomac."

"Somebody out there thinks of CAS as raindrops that sprinkle down on the battlefield like a spring shower," Dugan said. "I think of CAS like a thunderstorm that rains down death and destruction in masses of airplanes and tons of munitions, that goes for important targets and important forces and does something with impact on the battlefield."

Gen. Robert D. Russ, head of Tactical Air Command, said in another address at the symposium that "special interest groups in and out of the government" are hampering progress in the CAS effort. These group, he said, "sometimes are at odds with the goal of producing a winning team. I don't think they're at odds with our objectives, but they're myopic in their view of the product that they have and what they're trying to sell. They want their solution. They want their pet rock, and no matter how it impacts the team and no matter what the cost."

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Larry D. Welch said the situation reminded him of an experience he had at a recent banquet.

He said that, "as the waiter came around passing out the butter, I asked for a second pat of butter. The waiter said, 'One person, one pat.' The host at the head table said, 'Don't you know who that is? That's the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and he's our guest speaker.' And the waiter said back, 'Don't you know who I am? I'm the guy in charge of giving out the butter.'

"The reason I tell that story," Welch continued, "is that Washington and the Pentagon are full of people who think they're in charge of giving out the butter."

A Slow Process

Dugan said, "you can't get discouraged about single-man special interest groups that don't understand Army requirements, that don't understand Air Force contributions, and don't understand close air support from the commander's perspective, (but) that's the situation that we face in Washington today."

He gave this history of the effort to come up with a follow-on CAS aircraft:

--In 1982, the Army published its Air-Land Battle concept stressing maneuverability, firepower and numbers.

--In 1983, the Air Force endorsed the idea and declared the A-10 inadequate.

--In 1985, industry responded to an AF request for information on CAS aircraft with some 28 candidates. In June, Tactical Air Command drafted a statement of operational need for a follow-on CAS plane. The Air Force's fiscal 1987 program objective memorandum included more than $400 million a year for each year of the five-year defense plan to get started on a new CAS plane. The Defense Resources Board disapproved TAC's mission need statement and directed a review.

--In December 1986, the Air Force endorsed LTV's A-7F and the A-16, but the the Office of the Secretary of Defense disapproved the A-16 and formed the Close Air Support Mission Area Review Group to carry out additional feasibility studies.

--In 1988, the Dixon amendment to the base closings bill required the Secretary of Defense to assess the 28 aircraft candidates, study the idea of transferring the CAS mission to the Army, and prepare a flyoff test plan.

--In December 1988, OSD approved a program budget decision (PBD-235) that puts an additional $2 million per year in the FYDP to support further studies, provides funds to re-engine a single A-10, funds the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for CAS simulations and additional CAS studies, and provides a production wedge in the FYDP with some production funds in the last year, fiscal 1994.

"The net result" of all these studies, said Dugan, "could delay follow-on CAS capability and IOC by at least three years if it's not dealt with decisively, and now."

"Clearly we're in good shape in the United States Air Force" overall, Dugan said. "Every once in a while it's easy to get discouraged about one of these things that come up, a little pimple on road to progress. But we have a view of the future and we have a picture of how to get there and we know how to do it in an affordable fashion. And to meet the requirements of our customer, we need to get on with the job, especially when the issue underlines the very essence of tactical air power and our relationship with the U.S. Army."

"We know what it takes to be responsive, and it's not another study," Dugan said.

Offline Bruno Anthony

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2012, 11:25:31 am »

Quote
BUDGET CUTS POSTPONE A-16 IN FAVOR OF F-16, A-10 UPGRADES
452 words
14 March 1989

Aerospace Daily
ASD
Vol. 149, No. 50
English
Copyright 1989 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Budget cuts have forced the Air Force to abandon--for now, at least-- plans to retire the A-10 and buy A-16 close air support (CAS) variants of the F-16, Pentagon officials said yesterday. The mission will be met in the near term by modified A-10s and F-16s.

The Air Force offered up an F-16 procurement cut from 600 aircraft to 480 over the next four years as part of the Bush Administration's coming defense budget reduction (DAILY, March 8). This leaves "no room for A-16," one official said, but the AF hopes the plane will be revived "in the out-years."

In the meantime, the service plans to upgrade older F-16s and A-10s with forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and terrian-avoidance equipment. Some armor plating will be applied to the modified F-16s.

The A-10/F-16 upgrade was proposed to the AF recently by Deputy Defense Secretary William H. Taft IV, officials said. The service accepted the plan in light of zero-real-growth budget constraints.

The AF has said it can't keep the A-10 because the plane is too slow to survive the CAS environment, but an official reported that there are no immediate plans to equip the aircraft with a higher-thrust engine. "That's not affordable just now," he said. "It wasn't something that was planned. But it will be looked at some more."

Another official confirmed that the AF won't have to evaluate a new- design, low-cost "Mudfighter," as some Pentagon and congressional A-16 opponents have advocated. The AF has consistently fought the Mudfighter, saying it lacks the resources to develop, buy or support another airframe. AF Chief of Staff Larry D. Welch recently insisted that CAS study data "does not say Mudfighter" (DAILY, Jan. 30).

Under the new plan, the first F-16s would be modified for CAS in 1993. The start of A-10 retirement had been planned that year, but officials could not say how much its service life would be extended. As many as 300 A-10s and more than 500 F-16s could be upgraded, but one official said these quantities are "still rather iffy." The Air Force fields about 650 A-10s.

The cost of upgrading the F-16s and A-10s would be about $1.8 million per aircraft, an official said. The A-16 was to have been modified on the assembly line with a unit flyaway cost of about $13.2 million. A-16s would have been part of the previously planned F-16 buy, not additional aircraft.



Quote
GALVIN CRITICIZES CAS 'NON-DECISION,' WANTS BAI CAPABILITY
329 words
27 March 1989

Aerospace Daily
ASD
Vol. 149, No. 59
English
Copyright 1989 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

NATO commander Gen. John R. Galvin is impatient with the lack of progress in picking a followon close air support aircraft and with attempts to redefine the CAS mission, a Pentagon memo reveals.

In a March 9 message to William H. Taft IV, then the acting defense secretary, Galvin said debate over the CAS followon "has apparently led to a 'non-decision'" on an issue vital to field commanders. He criticized Pentagon proponents of a so-called Mudfighter for their "frequent attempts to redefine my...requirements," and he asked Taft to "move forward" on a solution that addressed Galvin's warfighting needs.

The "non-decision" to which Galvin referred was Taft's plan to modify existing A-10s and F-16s for CAS rather than go to a new-production F-16 variant, the A-16. A long-term program would be deferred until the early 1990s (DAILY, March 14).

In his memo, a copy of which was obtained by The DAILY, Galvin said he wouldn't "presume to recommend" a specific aircraft. He endorsed the A-16, however: "It seems to me that the A-16 provides the flexibility and capability I need."

Galvin said the A-10 has served well and will have a role "in future low intensity conflicts," but it won't meet his needs in the future high intensity European environment. The 1990s battlefield will require an aircraft to perform both CAS and battlefield air interdiction (BAI), he said, not a "CAS only" plane.

"NATO recognizes this and combines CAS and BAI into a single mission called offensive air support (OAS)," Galvin said. Army and Air Force requirements mirror this approach, which "is completely consistent with my operational needs."

Mudfighter proponents have "only blurred the picture," Galvin argued. "I believe this issue has been studied enough, and I urge that we now move forward and identify a solution that meets the needs of the warfighting commanders."



AIR GUARD CLOSE AIR SUPPORT UNIT TO FLY MODIFIED F-16s
773 words
28 March 1989

Aerospace Daily
ASD
Vol. 149, No. 60
English
Copyright 1989 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

At least one Air Force unit dedicated to close air support is transitioning to F-16s from A-10s, despite uncertainty in Washington over picking a follow-on CAS aircraft.

The 174th Tactical Fighter Wing, a New York Air National Guard unit based at Hancock Field in Syracuse, is the first Air Force CAS unit to receive F- 16s. It shipped its last flight of four A-10 Thunderbolts to various other reserve units last week.

Some of the unit's A-10s went to Truax Field, a Madison, Wis., reserve base, while others were converted to an OA-10 configuration to replace OA-37 Dragonflies in service at NAS Willow Grove.

Lt. Col. Robert Purple, base commander at Hancock, told The DAILY that despite the assignment of 20 F-16A/B fighters, the 174th's mission "is going to remain close air support." This is because Air Force protocols with the Army covering CAS demand that a certain number of units be CAS-dedicated.

The aircraft will be modified, but to what degree they will resemble the proposed A-16 will depend on funding and policy decisions made in Washington.

He said the unit has a history of leading the Air Force in CAS developments, adding that if the A-16 ever comes to pass, he expects the 174th to be the lead unit for the plane.

The debate over CAS has boiled down to a comparison of a new-production A-16 variant of the F-16, and a so-called "Mudfighter," a low-cost, heavily armed turboprop. Lack of progress in picking a CAS follow-on prompted a memo from NATO commander Gen. John R. Galvin urging the Pentagon to "move forward" on a CAS solution that meets his requirements (DAILY, March 27).

Galvin, whose front-line NATO forces would be the first beneficiaries of a new CAS aircraft program, was critical in his March 9 memo of then-acting defense secretary William H. Taft's plan to modify existing A-10s and F-16s for CAS, deferring a long-term program until the early 1990s.

Gen. Robert D. Russ, chief of Tactical Air Command, visited the 174th earlier this year and assured the unit that the Air Force's CAS decision was to use the F-16 "in whatever version or form," another unit official said.

The official said that at a minimum the F-16s will have to go through the Block 30 upgrade to accomplish the CAS mission. Plans so far call for nine gun pods, similar to the 30mm cannon pods tested on F-16s last year, to go to Syracuse with the aircraft, where the unit will put the planes through a period of "testing and refinement," he said.

The 174th TFW, known as the Boys From Syracuse, has been in Field Technical Training (FTT) for the aircraft for several months, using in some cases borrowed aircraft until the full complement of F-16s arrives.

"We're already training pilots," Purple said. "We have seven or eight pilots, but we just don't have the iron for" full scale operations. Funding problems delayed aircraft deliveries for three months, but "as soon as the iron flow starts, we'll be starting (training) in earnest." The 174th hopes to begin taking delivery of the aircraft next month, because "there's a lot of work to be done," he said.

Pilots from the 174th took part in limited testing of an F-16 fitted with a 30mm cannon, mounted in a centerline pod, last year. They didn't fire the cannon, but one AF official said an "A-16 test" is coming up later this month.

The 174th evidently will serve as a test case for flying the F-16 in a CAS role. The 174th routinely trains with the 10th Mountain Brigade and several artillery units at Fort Drum in Watertown, N.Y. In addition, Hancock Field is a training base for the annual NATO Checkered Flag exercises, and every summer the 174th deploys to West Germany to fly with Luftwaffe Tornados.

A unit official noted that the F-16/Tornado combination is much more compatible than the A-10/Tornado match. In addition, the combination better serves what unit pilots believe is the evolving CAS mission--battlefield air interdiction (BAI). The official said brigade and corps commanders in the field already have at their disposal tube-launched weapons that supplant the traditional role of the CAS airplane.

"It may be time to redefine CAS," the official said, "looking at an echelon-type war of interdiction."

Offline Bruno Anthony

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2012, 11:27:00 am »


Quote
OF GALVIN MEMO ON CAS/BAI
274 words
28 March 1989

Aerospace Daily
ASD
Vol. 149, No. 60
English
Copyright 1989 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Following is the text of a memorandum sent March 9 by Army Gen. John R. Galvin, NATO commander, to William H. Taft IV, then the acting defense secretary, criticizing delays in decisions on how to upgrade close air support/battlefield air interdiction forces (DAILY, March 27):

"I have watched with interest the debate in DOD concerning the follow-on close air support (CAS) aircraft. Up to now the debate has shown little progress and has apparently led to a 'non-decision' on an issue of vital importance to warfighting commanders.

"It is my view that as I look into the 1990s, tomorrow's battlefield will require tactical aircraft with operational flexibility to perform both CAS and battlefield air interdiction (BAI). NATO recognizes this and combines CAS and BAI into a single mission called offensive air support (OAS). Similarly, the current Air Force and Army statement of requirements for CAS/BAI emphasizes flexibility and is completely consistent with my operational needs. Frequent attempts by others to redefine my basic warfighting requirements toward a 'CAS-only' aircraft have only blurred the picture.

"The A-10A has served well and it will have a place in future low intensity conflicts, but it will not meet my needs in a future high intensity European environment. I will not presume to recommend a specific follow-on CAS/BAI aircraft although it seems to me that the A-16 provides the flexibility and capability I need. I believe this issue has been studied enough, and I urge that we now move forward and identify a solution that meets the needs of the warfighting commanders."

AIR FORCE, ARMY CHIEFS BACK A-16; AF SEEKS FY '90 FUNDS
717 words
30 March 1989

Aerospace Daily
ASD
Vol. 149, No. 62
English
Copyright 1989 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

The chiefs of staff of the Air Force and the Army have lined up behind the General Dynamics A-16 as at least a near-term close air support/battlefield air interdiction (CAS/BAI) aircraft, and the Air Force is seeking A-16 funds in its revised FY 1990 budget proposals.

"There is now reasonable consensus within the Department of Defense that, whatever the ideal long term solution, the A-16 will be a very significant addition to CAS/BAI capability," AF Gen. Larry D. Welch and Army Gen. Carl E. Vuono said in a memorandum to Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We should therefore proceed to deliver some part of the F-16 buy in the A-16 configuration," Welch and Vuono said. "Funding for the A-16 is included in the revised Air Force budget beginning in FY '90."

Welch and Vuono said the AF will pursue A-10 upgrades "for continuing near term close air support and longer term low intensity conflict." Some A- 10s will be converted to an OA-10 configuration "to perform the FAC (forward air controller) role and provide some light battlefield support."

The two chiefs said decisions on the A-7F, an A-7 CAS variant, should be made after two prototypes being built by LTV have been flown and evaluated.

The memo, a copy of which was obtained by The DAILY, was sent to Crowe on March 1, a week before Army Gen. John R. Galvin, NATO commander, wrote Deputy Defense Secretary William H. Taft IV criticizing the Pentagon's apparent "non-decision" on CAS/BAI. Galvin didn't recommend a CAS/BAI aircraft but said "it seems to me that the A-16 provides the flexibility and capability I need" (DAILY, March 27).

DRB To Resolve Issue

Taft was reported to have rejected the A-16, approving lesser CAS retrofits for the F-16 and an A-10 upgrade, and to have deferred a long-term program until the early 1990s (DAILY, March 14). Sources said yesterday, however, that the modifications-vs.-A-16 issue remains and will be resolved by the Defense Resources Board, which will take up budget revisions next week.

President Bush told the Pentagon last month to cut the Reagan Administration's final defense budget proposals by $6.3 billion in FY 1990 and $60.5 billion in the FY 1990-94 period. The Air Force is proposing to cut back F-16 production to 120 aircraft per year as part of its share of these cuts (DAILY, March 8). Additional funds to develop A-16 modifications and incorporate them in the production program would reduce the net budget decrease.

Welch and Vuono observed that the "circle of players" in the CAS debate "is growing with DOD, the Joint Staff, GAO, several consulting groups and congressional hearings all playing some role." The Joint Chiefs should "lead these deliberations to ensure the right perspective," they told Crowe.

They noted that commanders have distinct requirements for CAS, BAI, deep interdiction and air superiority, and that the evolution of armed helicopters "adds a new dimension to the battlefield that influences the mix and emphasis on fixed wing support of the close battle." Ideally, a CAS/BAI aircraft would enable commanders to "swing tactical air support from close air support to battlefield interdiction or vice versa on an instant's notice" as battlefield needs change, they said.

Without an A-16, the Air Force has structured itself to provide 6.5 wings of dedicated CAS aircraft and a total of 28 wings that can contribute to CAS if needed, Welch and Vuono said. Nine wings are "particularly well suited" but not optimized for BAI and 24 wings can contribute if needed.

"It should be obvious that it is not possible to pluck a 'close air support' force out of the tactical force and hope to have any kind of rational approach to providing the varieties of support needed to meet changing needs across the width and depth of the battlefield," they said. "The tactical air forces must be able to respond quickly and with great flexibility to the priorities set by the theater commander to meet those needs."

Offline Bruno Anthony

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2012, 11:33:15 am »
Sorry, not all of these articles are in chronological order:



Quote
A SECTION
Order for New Ground Support Plane Causes Upheaval at Pentagon
George C. Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writer
554 words
27 January 1987

The Washington Post
WP
FINAL
a09
English
(Copyright 1987)

A battle is raging behind the scenes at the Pentagon over an order to the Air Force to design a new plane that would support ground troops by destroying enemy tanks and helicopters.

The two-sentence reference to this "close air support aircraft" in Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger's new posture statement belies the institutional upheavals that this seemingly modest step has caused, according to Pentagon officials.

Pentagon civilian leaders, including David Chu, head of the analysis and evaluation office, and Richard P. Godwin, the new overseer for weapons buying, rejected the advice of Air Force and Army leaders and persuaded Deputy Defense Secretary William H. Taft IV to proceed with the design study on the new aircraft.

Army and Air Force officials favor a modified version of the supersonic F16 fighter, called the A16, for that role. Weinberger has said that the A7 attack plane, used extensively in the Vietnam war, might be adapted as an interim close air support aircraft.

During Pentagon budget debates, the civilian leaders argued that, rather than rely on sophisticated planes like the F16 or vulnerable ones like the A10 antitank aircraft, it was time to develop a plane that could fly slowly enough to pick out small targets like tanks, carry armor-piercing weaponry and yet have the agility and acceleration to escape the battlefield before enemy gunners could shoot it down.

Under Taft's decision, reflected in the new fiscal 1988 defense budget, the Air Force will take $10 million from existing accounts this year to start the design effort and would receive another $10 million out of the fiscal 1988 budget now before Congress. Officials said that several aerospace contractors would be paid to design new generations of close support aircraft and that winning designs would be picked in the spring of 1988. After that, two prototypes might be built for a fly-off competition.

Air Force leaders, besides leaning toward adapting an existing aircraft for the close support role, have been reluctant to start a new program in this era of austere Pentagon budgets. Pentagon officials said the Air Force leadership fears that a new, close support aircraft would consume money needed for the advanced tactical fighter (ATF) under development.

"They're afraid they'll get stuck with another A10," said one Pentagon insider, "even though all Weinberger is talking about is a design evaluation."

Critics contend that the A10 close support aircraft now in service falls short of the need, partly because it is too easy to hit. The A10's ground support mission was compromised, according to Pentagon critics, by the insistence that it be capable of remaining airborne with a load of bombs for long periods. "We really don't have a survivable close air support aircraft today," said one enthusiast of the design initiative.

The Army's master plan calls for spending billions on armed helicopters to help protect soldiers on the battlefield from enemy armor. A new support plane might jeopardize the Army's long-range plan, officials said.

In his posture statement, Weinberger said, "The design goal will be to provide a significant increase in capability over the A10, while maintaining a low unit cost and high readiness."

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2012, 12:32:32 pm »
This discussion probably should go to "The Bar." The United States Air Force's Close Air Support role is intertwined with a political battle with the United States Army and the service's intense dislike for the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.

From F-16.net:

As for the A-16 Block 60, the project failed because the 30mm gun generated excessive heat that damaged inner components of the left fuselage.

Quote
In November 1988, the 174th [Tactical Fighter Wing] of the New York [Air National Guard]began transitioning from the A-10A Thunderbolt II to the F-16A/B block 10, becoming the first unit to operate the F-16 in a Close Air Support role.

During Desert Storm, their 24 F-16A/B aircraft were equipped to carry the General Electric GPU-5/A Pave Claw pod on the centerline station. The pod houses a 30mm GAU-13/A four-barrel derivative of the seven-barrel GAU-8/A cannon used by the A-10A, and 353 rounds of ammunition. The aircraft received the new designation F/A-16, and were the only F-16s ever to be equipped with this weapon, intended for use against a variety of battlefield targets, including armor.

If the tests were successful, there were plans for a fleet of F/A-16C's with the same armament. To demonstrate the concept, the AF installed Pave Penny avionics, 30mm gun pods and European One paint jobs on 7 F-16C's (#83128, -129, -130, -131, -132, -144, -2??). F-16B no. 2 (#75752) was given similar treatment except for a Falcon Eye system. These aircraft flew from Nellis with the 'WA' tailcode.

The F-16s from the 174th were deployed to the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm, but the project proved to be a miserable failure [emphasis added]. Precision aiming was impossible for several reasons:

  • The pylon mount isn't as steady as the A-10's rigid mounting
  • The F-16 flies much faster than an A-10, giving the pilots too little time approaching the target
  • Firing the gun shook the aircraft harshly and made it impossible to control
  • Essential CCIP (continuously computed impact point) software was unavailable
Pilots ended up using the gun as an area effect weapon, spraying multiple targets with ammunition, producing an effect rather like a cluster bomb. It took only a couple of days of this before they gave up, unbolted the gun pods, and went back to dropping real cluster bombs - which did the job more effectively.

The F/A-16C plan was quietly forgotten. The USAF still has plans to replace the A-10 with F-16s, but they no longer involve 30mm gun pods (or, apparently, a designation with an "A" in it).

Source:
http://www.f-16.net/f-16_versions_article18.html

Experience has shown that the A-16 and the F/A-16 were poor Close Air Support platforms.

Now this discussion will quickly degenerate into a battle over whether the United States Air Force should continue the CAS role or if it should be given to the United States Army and a battle over the worth of the A-10 relative to the F-16 in the CAS role.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 01:01:18 pm by DonaldM »

Offline sferrin

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2012, 12:48:17 pm »
I read somewhere that the results of the 30mm gun pod on the F-16 were less than stellar.  Given that the pod doesn't appear to have made it on the F-15E either. . .
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Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2012, 02:13:02 pm »
I guess it depends on how important you view the General Electric GAU-8 Avenger 30 mm rotary cannon to the CAS role.

Offline John21

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2012, 02:28:17 pm »
I'd say its pretty important. Especially in today's conflicts where no or limited collateral damage is a must. I watched a video of a gun-run on a Taliban dirt bike with two riders and it was pretty accurate.

Frankly since the A-10 is going to be serving for almost 30 more years and the Air Force doesn't seem to give CAS the respect it deserves, they should be handed over to the Army. Heck along with the planes, have its pilots, maintainers and support equipment also rotate to Army service. Keep them in the same location and just give them a new paint job and scroll Army on the side.

Offline chuck4

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2012, 03:06:05 pm »
Would a more modern single or double barrel 30mm gun using better gun laying technology and firing higher tech projectiles a better deal?
 
I am not sure a 7 barrel 30mm gun firing 4000 rounds a minute from an aircraft that has to boresight on an enemy who is also firing back will do less collateral damage than a Hellfire fired from a more secure location further away or behind cover.
 
 
 
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 03:10:38 pm by chuck4 »

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2012, 03:59:21 pm »
Laser guided cannon shells will put all that to rest.  Accurate low-collateral damage hits from 0-40k.  They already have it in a 50cal and dev projects are in the works for the  F-35's 25mm.




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Offline Avimimus

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2012, 04:01:04 pm »
The Russians were developing a mobile 45mm smoothbore for the Su-25... with guided rounds muzzle velocity and round weight become less important - so such weapons become more practical.

I wonder if this is more likely?

P.S. Any info on such unorthodox guns is most desired!

Offline Bruno Anthony

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2012, 05:41:58 pm »


TEXT OF WELCH-VUONO MEMO ENDORSING A-16
1022 words
31 March 1989
Aerospace Daily

ASD
Vol. 149, No. 63
English
Copyright 1989 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Following is the text of a memorandum sent March 1 by Gen. Larry D. Welch, Air Force chief of staff, and Gen. Carl E. Vuono, Army chief of staff, to Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supporting an A-16 close air support/battlefield air interdiction aircraft program:

"As you know, the circle of players addressing close air support issues in Washington is growing with DOD, the Joint Staff, GAO, several consulting groups and congressional hearings all playing some role. It is important that the Joint Chiefs lead these deliberations to ensure the right perspective.

"The Army and Air Force have devoted years of intense concentration to this subject and the broader subject of overall tactical air support of air- land operations. In 1973, at the direction of then Army Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams and Air Force Chief of Staff George Brown, the Army and Air Force embarked on a renewed focus on harmonizing Air Force tactical air support capabilities to the needs of the ground forces commander. The objective was to put an end to parochial doctrinal and roles and missions arguments, and to instead focus on how the future AirLand battle is likely to be fought and on the demands of the future battlefield on Army and Air Force capabilities. Each Army and Air Force Chief since that time has strongly reinforced that drive for cooperative understanding of the demands of the air-land battle.

"In 1982 the Army, after much study and coordination with the Air Force, published its new AirLand battle doctrine. From 1982 to 1985, the Air Force with help from the Army focused on refining the need for tactical air support of the new AirLand Battle and refining the statement of the doctrine itself with the 1986 revision of FM 100-5.

"It is clear that the Army continues to need the full spectrum of integrated tactical air support--air superiority to protect forces and infrastructure from enemy air attack and to provide freedom of action for other tactical air and helicopter operations, deep interdiction to reduce enemy capability to reinforce and support combat operations, battlefield interdiction to control the flow of enemy forces forward to the battle area and set the conditions for future operations, and close air support to provide firepower at critical times and places at the point of contact.

"It is also clear that the continuing development of armed helicopter systems adds a new dimension to the battlefield that influences the mix and emphasis on fixed wing support of the close battle.

"The mix of these needs changes daily and hourly and varies widely from place to place on the battlefield. There will be times and places where the demand for close air support requires everything that can contribute to that mission. At other times and places, the need for close air support will be lighter and the demand for battlefield air interdiction or deep interdiction may be the heaviest. The Air Force has structured the tactical air forces to accommodate that constantly changing need with some 6.5 wings of dedicated close air support aircraft but a total of 28 wings that can contribute to close air support if needed. Further, there are 9 wings particularly well suited (though not really specialized) for battlefield air interdiction but a total of 24 wings that can contribute to battlefield air interdiction if needed. Lastly, there are 7 wings dedicated to air superiority but 25 wings that can contribute to that mission.

"It should be obvious that it is not possible to pluck a 'close air support' force out of the tactical force and hope to have any kind of rational approach to providing the varieties of support needed to meet changing needs across the width and depth of the battlefield. The tactical air forces must be able to respond quickly and with great flexibility to the priorities set by the theater commander to meet those needs.

"The same changes in the modern battlefield that led to the 1982 AirLand battle doctrine also demand a followon close air support aircraft. Ideally that followon aircraft would allow the ground forces commander to swing tactical air support from close air support to battlefield interdiction or vice versa on an instant's notice to meet the needs of the modern battlefield. For example, the ground commander's concern with enemy tanks in contact may very suddenly give way to concern with suppressing enemy artillery fire from deeper locations or stopping enemy reinforcements in a specific area. Responding quickly to such needs requires an aircraft that can operate effectively deeper into enemy territory.

"In response to the evolving need, the Air Force first proposed to fund a followon close air support aircraft in 1985 and each year since that time. Air Force analysis, and that of other agencies, says that at least a significant part of the near term solution is a new version of the F-16 specialized for the CAS/BAI role. There is now reasonable consensus within the Department of Defense that, whatever the ideal long term solution, the A-16 will be a very significant addition to CAS/BAI capability. We should therefore proceed to deliver some part of the F-16 buy in the A-16 configuration. Funding for the A-16 is included in the revised Air Force budget beginning in FY90.

"The Air Force will also pursue upgrades to the A-10 for continuing near term close air support and longer term low intensity conflict. In addition, part of the A-10 force will be converted to the OA-10 to perform the FAC (forward air controller) role and provide some light battlefield support.

"Two prototype A-7F aircraft are currently being fabricated. Any decision on the future of the A-7F should await the outcome of the subsequent evaluation.

"Your support to quickly resolve any lingering close air support roles and missions issues and to move forward with the Air Force followon close air support aircraft will well serve the needs of the combat forces."

Offline Bruno Anthony

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2012, 05:43:58 pm »
Frankly since the A-10 is going to be serving for almost 30 more years and the Air Force doesn't seem to give CAS the respect it deserves, they should be handed over to the Army. Heck along with the planes, have its pilots, maintainers and support equipment also rotate to Army service. Keep them in the same location and just give them a new paint job and scroll Army on the side.



Viewpoint Let the Army Fly Its Own Close Air Support
1033 words
9 February 1987
Aviation Week & Space Technology

AW
Pg. 11
Vol. 126, No. 6
English
Copyright 1987 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

(AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY military editor Brendan M. Greeley, Jr., flew close air support missions and served with a Marine infantry battalion during two tours in Vietnam. He later commanded a Marine Attack Squadron operating McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawks. Following are his thoughts on assigning the close air support mission to the Army--Ed.)

The subject of close air support evokes strong emotions. Employment of all supporting arms--artillery, naval gunfire and air--to save the lives of Army and Marine Corps infantrymen has long been an article of faith in our ground forces. None of the arguments put forth concerning the value of interdiction or strategic bombing has altered the ground soldier's view that a timely air strike can often solve many of his problems.

The sheer magnitude of getting an air strike on target without endangering friendly troops is appreciated by few except those directly involved. Many things have to go right and it is very easy for one of them to go wrong, especially when executing single-pass attacks against small, hard-to-identify targets on a confused battlefield obscured by dust and smoke.

Coordination at all levels down to the forward air controller and aircrew is essential, and this coordination is easier to conduct if the soldier doesn't have to cross service boundaries. Air Force liaison officers serving with tactical Army units over the years have made things work as well as can be expected, but they are contending with an inherently unwieldy system.

The principle--and the value--of consolidating limited fixed-wing tactical assets under Air Force control is well established. But in the case of the close air support requirement where availability and response time are critical, it has merely created another layer between the Army infantryman and USAF aircraft.

There is no valid reason to prevent the Army from providing its own fixed-wing close air support.

Congress last examined the issue in 1971 during hearings to determine whether the services were buying different aircraft to fill the same close support mission--the Army/Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne attack helicopter, an Air Force aircraft designated AX and the Marine Corps/Hawker Siddeley AV-8A Harrier. The hearings reexamined the long-standing question: which service should provide close air support? No Change

As it happened, the Army canceled the Cheyenne (but eventually got the Hughes Apache); the Air Force selected Fairchild to build the heavily armored A-10 for the sole mission of providing close air support for the Army, and the Marine Corps, rallying congressional support, got the Harrier.

In effect, nothing changed. Agreement between the Army and Air Force on a series of joint initiatives over the past two years included discussions of the issue but the subject was dropped (AW&ST June 17, 1985, p. 109).

The advent of the armed helicopter has clouded the roles and missions issue. Is an armed helicopter shooting at tanks 2,000 meters from friendly troops performing close air support? Yes, in the sense that the attack must be closely coordinated with ground units to prevent friendly casualties. But also no, in the traditional sense that close air support is a fixed-wing mission.

Concern over the possibility that critics of Marine aviation might try to replace its fixed-wing aircraft with helicopters prompted the Marine Corps to coin the term ''close-in fire support'' to establish a distinct armed helicopter mission that would not displace fixed-wing close air support. Target Requirements

Front-line targets dictate a requirement for both types of aircraft. The capabilities of the armed helicopter against point targets are insufficient to attack heavily fortified positions.

Marine Corps infantrymen supported by their own fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft have an ideal organization but even they have found that constant training is required to make the system work.

Despite evidence that it is the command and control structure and the training that make close air successful, rather than the equipment, Defense Dept. planners continue to waste time searching for the ideal support aircraft and Deputy Defense Secretary William H. Taft, 4th, has directed the Air Force to conduct yet another study--funded at $20 million--investigating more options for the close air mission (AW&ST Feb. 2, p. 19).

As far as equipment goes, simple VHF/FM aircraft radios that net with the ground forces are far more important to the success of close air missions than many of the exotic items that have been bought over the years.

Army and Air Force doctrine now emphasizes attack of the enemy's follow-on forces up to 90 mi. behind the front lines. As a result, the Air Force is looking for a high-speed multimission aircraft, capable of flying either close air or interdiction, to replace the A-10. Modified General Dynamics F-16s and LTV Aerospace A-7Ds are under consideration, along with other options as instructed in Taft's directive (see pp. 22, 23).

But the new aircraft may be off flying interdiction missions just when the Army wants it most, unlike the A-10, which was always available because it was dedicated to providing close air support.

The blurred dividing line of fixed-wing/rotary-wing capabilities should be replaced with a sharp, doctrinal line on the battlefield--namely the fire support coordination line. The Army should have primary responsibility for providing its own air support short of that boundary and if it decides some fixed-wing assets are needed . . . so be it. Army close air support aircraft will not threaten the existence of an Air Force proven in combat and now faced with missions in space and threats from cruise missiles that were barely perceived back in 1947.

As the Army defines the LHX as its next generation of light scout/attack helicopters and the Air Force looks for an A-10 successor, now is the time for the Defense Dept. to shift this mission to the Army. Strong support from Congress and the Defense Dept. is essential. The end result will be better support for someone who deserves it--the U. S. infantryman.

Offline Bruno Anthony

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2012, 05:51:38 pm »

From F-16.net:

As for the A-16 Block 60, the project failed because the 30mm gun generated excessive heat that damaged inner components of the left fuselage.

Quote
In November 1988, the 174th [Tactical Fighter Wing] of the New York [Air National Guard]began transitioning from the A-10A Thunderbolt II to the F-16A/B block 10, becoming the first unit to operate the F-16 in a Close Air Support role.

During Desert Storm, their 24 F-16A/B aircraft were equipped to carry the General Electric GPU-5/A Pave Claw pod on the centerline station. The pod houses a 30mm GAU-13/A four-barrel derivative of the seven-barrel GAU-8/A cannon used by the A-10A, and 353 rounds of ammunition. The aircraft received the new designation F/A-16, and were the only F-16s ever to be equipped with this weapon, intended for use against a variety of battlefield targets, including armor.

If the tests were successful, there were plans for a fleet of F/A-16C's with the same armament. To demonstrate the concept, the AF installed Pave Penny avionics, 30mm gun pods and European One paint jobs on 7 F-16C's (#83128, -129, -130, -131, -132, -144, -2??). F-16B no. 2 (#75752) was given similar treatment except for a Falcon Eye system. These aircraft flew from Nellis with the 'WA' tailcode.

The F-16s from the 174th were deployed to the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm, but the project proved to be a miserable failure [emphasis added]. Precision aiming was impossible for several reasons:

  • The pylon mount isn't as steady as the A-10's rigid mounting
  • The F-16 flies much faster than an A-10, giving the pilots too little time approaching the target
  • Firing the gun shook the aircraft harshly and made it impossible to control
  • Essential CCIP (continuously computed impact point) software was unavailable
Pilots ended up using the gun as an area effect weapon, spraying multiple targets with ammunition, producing an effect rather like a cluster bomb. It took only a couple of days of this before they gave up, unbolted the gun pods, and went back to dropping real cluster bombs - which did the job more effectively.

The F/A-16C plan was quietly forgotten. The USAF still has plans to replace the A-10 with F-16s, but they no longer involve 30mm gun pods (or, apparently, a designation with an "A" in it).

Also from F-16.net:

A-16

In the fall of 1989 I was out at Ft. Walters Texas (an hour or so west of Ft Worth) driving around in an M-60A3 tank belonging the 49th armor division. I was there to play target to the A-16 in a series of hide and seek games. Our tank was suppose to find a nice hiding place in the dark and scan the skies with the TTS (tank thermal sight). We were suppose to get a sooting solution with a simulated proximity det beehive (flachette) round before GD's Chief Test Pilot (the late Joe-Bill Dryden) could find and lock in on us with Falcon Eye. In 10 out of 10 exercises he found us first. Most of the time we didn't see him until he literally blocked out the stars above us. After his pass we were able to maintain lock on him until he interposed a terrain feature (the aft section of an f-16 shows up quite nicely on Far-IR).

Besides the new camo and falcon-eye the a-16 had 1 other striking difference from its stable mates.....armor. It had kevlar laminate backed by light metallic matrix. This was installed under the skin around the crew compartment flight control computer and compressor.

What this little exercise proved was that a highly skilled pilot can glide in on a target at mach .95 (with the engine throttled back to idle for noise reduction) and acquire a hidden ground target at night before the target acquire him. After the exercise controller called it quits Bill put on a little impromptu air show and then flew back to GD Ft. Worth /Carswell AFB (Now Ft Worth Joint Use Reserve Base).

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Offline Bruno Anthony

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2012, 05:55:36 pm »
The full a-16(i.e. F-16 Block k60) was never actualy built although IIRC the AFTI test bed had some of the avionics for the A-16 on it.  Are we sure the proposed A-16 would not have worked because the bastardized version used by the ANG didn't cut it with the 4 barrel 30mm?

Offline Bruno Anthony

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2012, 06:33:54 pm »


GUARD UNIT PROVES F-16 GUN POD, BUT NEXT STEP NEEDS BIGGER COMPUTER
676 words
14 August 1991

Aerospace Daily
ASD
Pg. 241
Vol. 159, No. 31
English
Copyright 1991 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Testing and refinement of General Dynamics F-16s being flown as dedicated close air support aircraft by a New York Air National Guard unit has eliminated an earlier vibration problem with the plane's huge 30mm gun pod, and the only outstanding issue is the larger one of making a CAS airplane out of a Block 10 F-16, a Guard official told The DAILY yesterday.

Although the 174th Tactical Fighter Wing--the first CAS-dedicated AF unit to get F-16s--deployed to the Gulf with the pod, the gun was only used for one day, near the end of the war. The unit was never really able to serve as a test case for the A-16 in combat, instead interdicting Republican Guard troops deep inside Iraq.

Still "we've done the gun pod tests this summer," said Lt. Col. Robert Purple, base commander at Hancock Field in suburban Syracuse, N.Y., where the 174th is based. An earlier problem with severe vibration when the cannon was fired turned out "not to be an issue," even though "everyone thought it would be," Purple added.

Getting the most out of a CAS upgrade--for example, using Constant Computed Impact Point (CCIP) to target air-to-ground munitions--requires a lot of computing power, and a problem with the F-16A/Bs being flown by the Boys From Syracuse is that "the computer's not big enough," Purple said. "With the As you take out to put in. With the C/Ds you put in."

Some Air Force officials have said that at a minimum the F-16s will have to go through the Block 30 upgrade to accomplish the CAS mission. Apart from that, Air Force plans for a whole package of CAS enhancements- -including the Agile Eye helmet-mounted display and targeting system, Pave Penny target designation, and an Automatic Target Handoff System-- may be put off to pay for unexpected costs on the F-22 and F-16 (DAILY, Aug. 12).

The 174th's aircraft are still slated to receive further modifications, but to what degree they will resemble the envisioned F/A- 16 will depend on funding and policy decisions in Washington.

"The debate goes on over which Blocks" will receive CAS mods, Purple said, and "with horrible cuts coming the Air Force wants the Guard to share in the cuts." Purple noted that the 174th's aircraft will begin receiving ring laser gyros fairly shortly.

The wing isn't flying with a full complement of aircraft, but that may also soon change, he said. The 174th flies 17 F-16As and two F-16Bs, after losing two aircraft just before and during the war--the first to an engine problem and the second to surface-to-air missile fire two days before the war ended.

That aircraft was later repaired and returned to service, but blew a tire during a landing in Saudi Arabia, causing a crash and fire that nearly destroyed the plane. The pilot escaped, but the decision was made to scrap the aircraft.

"Sometime starting next week we may be getting four more from McConnell" AFB, Kan., he said--two As and two Bs. Meanwhile, pilots will fly a slightly abbreviated flight schedule until after next month, when as many as six aircraft should fly every day.

The 174th began Field Technical Training to convert from A-10 Thunderbolt IIs to F-16s late in 1988, and since then has served as a test case both for CAS modifications and for flying the F-16 in a CAS role. The Boys From Syracuse routinely train with the Army's 10th Mountain Brigade and several artillery units at Ft. Drum in Watertown, N.Y., and until recently regularly deployed to Germany to fly with Luftwaffe Tornados.

Early experience already showed that the F-16/Tornado combination was much more compatible than the A-10/Tornado match, and better served the evolving CAS mission--battlefield air interdiction.

Offline Grey Havoc

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2013, 09:31:04 am »
A bit of general background in the form of a, quite anti-Warthog, article on CAS from December 1990: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a516342.pdf

The author favours the A-16 heavily although he doesn't outright come out and say it.
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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2013, 09:57:43 am »
CAS has changed a great deal over the past 20 years due to the vastly increased availability of guided weapons.  It's still nice to hear that 30mm roar; but for the most part, the A-10 does its job from on-high nowadays and regular fighters can handle tank-busting from 12,000 AGL.  The only real advantage I see it having over the F-16 now is loiter-time (still very important to a grunt).  Fortunately, by the time it gets replaced by the F-35, we'll probably have drones better capable of handling the boring job of long-duration CAS for Infantry guys in a COIN war.

Offline Grey Havoc

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2013, 10:21:12 am »
Here's the paper on which the article I previously posted was based: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a220659.pdf

And here's an 1989 Air War College Research Report that suggested dropping dedicated CAS aircraft altogether: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a217868.pdf

Going back to the A-16 itself, I've just came across a March 1989 document titled 'OPERATIONAL TEST PLAN CONCEPT FOR EVALUATION OF CLOSE AIR SUPPORT ALTERNATIVE AIRCRAFT'.


By the way, according to this document, the Block 30 F-16s which were intended to help subsitute for the A-16 when it was cancelled would have had the F/A-16 designation.
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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2013, 10:36:21 am »
And here's an 1989 Air War College Research Report that suggested dropping dedicated CAS aircraft altogether: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a217868.pdf
Yeah, I'm not a fan of that idea at all.  It doesn't have to be an A-10 loaded for bear, but you need something that can hang around for awhile in the low-intensity environment.  CAS isn't just about making the loud noises, sometimes it's handy just to have someone up there giving directions.

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #22 on: May 17, 2014, 05:42:53 am »
There was a recent op-ed in Defense News about the decision to retire the A-10. The author mentioned the A-16 and noted that the USAF had plans in the late 1980s to retire the A-10 in favor of the A-16. He even quoted a USAF general saying that the A-16 was the ideal platform. He said that a squadron of F/A-16s went to Operation Desert Storm and did so poorly that they were withdrawn within a month.

If true, it was a good parallel with what is happening today.

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #23 on: May 17, 2014, 11:00:05 am »
There was a recent op-ed in Defense News about the decision to retire the A-10. The author mentioned the A-16 and noted that the USAF had plans in the late 1980s to retire the A-10 in favor of the A-16. He even quoted a USAF general saying that the A-16 was the ideal platform. He said that a squadron of F/A-16s went to Operation Desert Storm and did so poorly that they were withdrawn within a month.

If true, it was a good parallel with what is happening today.


Link to said op-ed please?

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #24 on: May 17, 2014, 02:08:36 pm »
I presume this is the op-ed to which blackstar refers:

"Commentary: A-10 Still the Best in Its Field"
May. 5, 2014 - 02:16PM   | 
By CHRIS CHOATE

Source:
http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140505/DEFREG02/305050019/Commentary-10-Still-Best-Its-Field

Quote

Remember the A-16? Don’t worry — the US Air Force doesn’t, either.

Without question, the stepchild of the Air Force is the A-10 “Warthog.” It isn’t pretty. Worse, it’s defined as a single-mission aircraft — a cardinal sin in today’s environment where even air superiority aircraft have to portray an ability to perform a secondary mission.

Yet, thanks to civilian control of the Air Force, the venerable and battle-proven A-10 is now approaching its fourth decade of service to the United States. Throughout its illustrious career, the Warthog has faced only one serious threat: the budget cutters within the Air Force.

Each trip to the gallows for the A-10 has been accompanied by the rationale that other platforms can adequately perform the close-air support (CAS) mission. The common denominators of the “other platforms” have been afterburning engines (read fast), air-to-air radars (read cool and highly desirable for Red Flag and other training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.), and cannons either designed for air-to-air combat or added as an afterthought. In short: characteristics necessary for modern fighter aircraft but having little utility in the CAS environment.

Today’s replacement for the A-10 is the F-35. Like the previous CAS replacements, it has the common denominators listed above. But before the Air Force starts making room for the remaining A-10s at the boneyard in Arizona, it would behoove the service to study its first attempt to replace the slow and ugly Warthog during the 1980s. The blond-haired, blue-eyed choice of that era: the A-16.

According to an April 1989 Air Force Magazine article, the “close air support fighter” for the 1990s was “stuck in the bureaucratic bogs of Washington.” About $27 million had been spent on the issue, and the debate was settled. The answer was the A-16, a modified variant of the F-16.

Critics of the A-16, flat-Earthers of the day, were labeled as supporters of a nostalgic “mudfighter,” an upgraded A-10 or similar plane that was “slow and simple, but heavily armored.” According to the article, such a platform would not survive the battlefield of tomorrow and was not even capable of providing the “kind of air support the Army needs and says it wants.” Speaking at an Air Force Association symposium in January 1989, then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Welch said, “The data does not say ‘mudfighter.’ No matter how you slice it, the data says A-16.”

Fast forward to 1991. Among the many types of aircraft sent to expel Iraq from Kuwait were squadrons of A-10s and F/A-16s of the 174th Tactical Fighter Wing. Modified with a 30mm gun pod, the F/A-16s would validate the $27 million study and show the doubters in Washington that the days of the mudfighter had passed. It didn’t work out that way. The A-10 performed brilliantly. The F/A-16 proved to be a near disaster, and the gun pods were downloaded within days of the start of the air war. And the A-16? It was never heard of again.

So what’s different this time? Not that much. Like the F-16, the F-35 will be a remarkable aircraft. It will excel in interdiction and is expected to be very capable in counter-air operations against near-peer competitors. Unfortunately, the ability to conduct traditional, primary, or in the words of the critics, glamorous air operations does not translate well into the CAS environment. “Traditional” air combat values speed; CAS does not. Traditional air combat is one pass and haul ass; loiter time is a critical requirement of CAS.

In CAS, size and numbers matter. The A-10 was built around a 30mm cannon with more than 1,000 rounds. The Air Force version of the F-35 will carry a smaller 25mm cannon with 180 rounds (yes, 180 — that’s not a typo. Strafe the ditch by the line of trees? You’ll need a four-ship of F-35s.

In the Air Force’s defense, it should be noted the Navy and Marine F-35s do not even have a gun. They will have to carry the 25mm cannon in a gun pod. There is not one key aspect of the CAS mission where the F-35 will be better than the A-10. Not one.

No one envies the Air Force’s budget dilemma. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the wars we’re fighting today are ones where the enemy has more in common with a 19th century militia than a modern military. The low-end war is not going away, and to succeed, our nation will need to fight and bring home every son and daughter we possibly can.

For troops in contact, the A-10 is one of America’s best weapons. It should be retained until we can afford a real replacement. ■

Chris Choate is a retired US Air Force colonel who performs operational test and evaluation work with the service as a civilian employee. These views reflect only those of the author.

Offline GTX

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2014, 02:29:56 pm »
That's a pretty thin argument in favour of the A-10.  It basically hinges upon the use of the 30mm gun pod by the F/A-16.  Note:  In an environment where the enemy can shoot back with SAMs, the A-10 wouldn't be relying upon its gun but rather missiles.  In fact, the same was even the scenario against systems such as ZSU-23-4s where the strategy would be to remove them first using mavericks or similar.


The reality is that the A-10 is a dated weapon now and one that is not even used in the way a lot of people imagine it is.  Moreover, in environments such as CAS, its gun is overkill (a human doesn't die any more if hit by a burst of 30mm rounds instead of 20mm or even 7.62mm).

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2014, 03:41:27 pm »
That's a pretty thin argument in favour of the A-10.  It basically hinges upon the use of the 30mm gun pod by the F/A-16.  Note:  In an environment where the enemy can shoot back with SAMs, the A-10 wouldn't be relying upon its gun but rather missiles.  In fact, the same was even the scenario against systems such as ZSU-23-4s where the strategy would be to remove them first using mavericks or similar.

The reality is that the A-10 is a dated weapon now and one that is not even used in the way a lot of people imagine it is.  Moreover, in environments such as CAS, its gun is overkill (a human doesn't die any more if hit by a burst of 30mm rounds instead of 20mm or even 7.62mm).

The A-10 Thunderbolt II was designed solely for close air support (CAS) of ground forces. I don't believe that advocates of the A-10 are proposing that the aircraft enter the battlespace solo. It seems to some that supporting the A-10 takes away from the F-16 or the F-35 or is an argument against the F-16 or the F-35. Why does it have to be an either/or proposition? Why should the A-10 be expected to defend itself against SAMs? It seems like the argument against the A-10 is that it isn't multirole and it is stealing resources away from the much more expensive F-35. No one is advocating sending the AH-64 Apache Longbow to the boneyard because of the threat of radar-guided SAMs and SPAAGs.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2014, 03:55:13 pm by Triton »

Offline GTX

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #27 on: May 17, 2014, 04:07:38 pm »
It seems to some that supporting the A-10 takes away from the F-16 or the F-35 or is an argument against the F-16 or the F-35.


Of course it is being used to argue that!  Are you denying that?

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #28 on: May 17, 2014, 04:25:21 pm »
No one is advocating sending the AH-64 Apache Longbow to the boneyard because of the threat of radar-guided SAMs and SPAAGs.

The Apache is a helicopter. It can hover at an altitude of 6 feet AGL. The A-10 is an aircraft. It can not hover nor can it safely fly for long periods below tree top level. The difference is rather important when facing a high level GBAD threat.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline quellish

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2014, 05:04:01 pm »
In an environment where the enemy can shoot back with SAMs, the A-10 wouldn't be relying upon its gun but rather missiles.  In fact, the same was even the scenario against systems such as ZSU-23-4s where the strategy would be to remove them first using mavericks or similar.


The scenarios where the A-10 uses it's gun are limited but important. An A-10 is much more likely to use a CBU or guided weapon than the gun. It's a nice gun with a large magazine, but the gun is only part of the A-10 story. Often the rules of engagement are restrictive and require positive visual confirmation of targets. Because the A-10 can fly under the weather and can loiter, it is a good asset to have. Unfortunately IR and radar sensors can't always give you the picture of the target you need to execute the ROE.

Moreover, in environments such as CAS, its gun is overkill (a human doesn't die any more if hit by a burst of 30mm rounds instead of 20mm or even 7.62mm).


In most environments, low observables are also overkill - especially under post-DESERT STORM US doctrine. This is why in the 90s there was much talk of "scalable" observables and "first day stealth". Once an enemy's air defenses are rolled back during the initial days of a conflict, observables may not be as important for survivability.


The A-10 gun is has a large magazine, is well integrated into the aircraft, and the plane flys slowly enough to allow the pilot time to set up his gun pass. The aircraft was designed to be survivable while it was vulnerable attacking. An F-15E flys a lot faster, has a much smaller magazine, and the pilot may not have a lot of experience attacking ground targets with the gun (IIRC, in the 90s they didn't get to practice much). Those things can make a big difference.


http://www.airforcemag.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2007/July%202007/0707strafing.aspx

Offline aim9xray

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #30 on: May 17, 2014, 05:56:08 pm »
He said that a squadron of F/A-16s went to Operation Desert Storm and did so poorly that they were withdrawn within a month.

It is instructive to know why F-16 bombing with the NY and SC ANG squadrons was so inaccurate in Desert Storm. 

It was discovered after the fact that many of the inaccurate attacks were pressed at very high subsonic and transonic speeds (speed is life, remember?).

Unfortunately, the Air Force had only completed (and validated though flight test) the ballistics tables in the (Mission Computer or Stores Management System, I don't recall which) up to .95 Mach.  So, there was no way for the computer to correct for transonic effects above this speed in bomb aiming and release.   And now you know the rest of the story.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #31 on: May 17, 2014, 06:09:58 pm »
 
The A-10 gun is has a large magazine, is well integrated into the aircraft, and the plane flys slowly enough to allow the pilot time to set up his gun pass. The aircraft was designed to be survivable while it was vulnerable attacking.

The A-10’s survivability is only against low level GBAD threats. It’s important to remember that the A-10 was designed for what was effectively a VietNam War requirement (A-X). Where the GBAD threat was 12.7mm HMGs and SA-7s. It has also only been used in combat where the GBAD threat was similar thanks to SEAD/DEAD (ODS, OIF) and fighting more insurgents (OEF). And in both situations there was no appreciable air threat.
 
Against a high level GBAD threat (Soviet Army) and a high level air threat (regiments of MiG-29s) the A-10 is a dead duck. Too fast to hide and too slow to escape. And airframe ruggedness and cockpit armour is not going to save you when they get you hit by these types of weapons.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #32 on: May 17, 2014, 07:15:43 pm »
"An A-10 Pilot Could Hope to Last Two Weeks Against the Soviets
Cold War planners expected to lose up to 60 A-10s a day"
[War is Boring]

Source:
https://medium.com/war-is-boring/1ebff9bfa4df

Quote
The U.S. Air Force is planning to retire all 350 of its A-10 attack planes, blaming budget cuts and the slow-flying jet's trouble surviving against the most sophisticated enemy air defenses.

That problem is not new. The A-10 force has performed well in Afghanistan, devastating lightly-armed insurgents and saving scores of American and allied lives—and losing no jets to sporadic enemy fire. (One A-10 was shot down in Iraq.) But even 30 years ago, Air Force planners expected A-10s to suffer heavy casualties in any serious fight.

In the 1980s the Air Force planned to deploy 68 A-10s to each of six Forward Operating Locations in West Germany in the event of war with the Soviets. The twin-engine A-10s, with their 30-millimeter guns and Maverick missiles, were NATO’s main tank-killing weapon.

According to Combat Aircraft magazine, the flying branch predicted that, if the A-10s went into action, seven percent of the jets would be lost per 100 sorties. Since each pilot was expected to fly at most four missions per day, each base would in theory generate more than 250 sorties daily. At this pace, a seven-percent loss rate per 100 flights equaled at least 10 A-10s shot down at each FOL every 24 hours — and that’s being conservative.

At that rate, in less than two weeks the entire A-10 force at the time — around 700 jets — would have been destroyed and the pilots killed, injured, captured or, at the least, very shook up.

In the brutal calculation of Cold War planning, it was perhaps worth it to expend an entire warplane fleet and all its pilots “in pursuit of the destruction of several hard-charging Soviet armored divisions,” in the words of University of Kentucky professor Rob Farley.

If the Air Force were to face a high-tech foe today, the math would probably be different. It’s unlikely the Pentagon could justify sacrificing hundreds of pilots against anything short of a truly existential threat. And for that reason Farley says he’s ambivalent about the A-10's future.

But in putting the A-10 on the chopping block, the Air Force is assuming it won’t ever fight anything short of a full-scale war against a peer enemy. Do we really believe the era of low-intensity wars has ended?

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #33 on: May 17, 2014, 08:25:59 pm »
The A-10’s survivability is only against low level GBAD threats. It’s important to remember that the A-10 was designed for what was effectively a VietNam War requirement (A-X). Where the GBAD threat was 12.7mm HMGs and SA-7s. It has also only been used in combat where the GBAD threat was similar thanks to SEAD/DEAD (ODS, OIF) and fighting more insurgents (OEF). And in both situations there was no appreciable air threat.
 
Against a high level GBAD threat (Soviet Army) and a high level air threat (regiments of MiG-29s) the A-10 is a dead duck. Too fast to hide and too slow to escape. And airframe ruggedness and cockpit armour is not going to save you when they get you hit by these types of weapons.

Describing the A-10 Thunderbolt II as "survivable" or "the most survivable plane ever built" is not the same as claiming that the aircraft is invincible. The United States Air Force also has strike and air superiority fighters to reduce the risks posed by high-level GBADs and high-level air threats, such as regiments of MiG-29s. It does seem that the United States Air Force's customers for Close Air Support (CAS), the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps, want the A-10 and are skeptical of the claims that the CAS mission can be adequately performed by high-flying, fast jets with precision guided munitions. There is also disagreement within the Air Force over the capability that will be lost with the retirement of the A-10. I also can't discount the forty plus year battle between the United States Air Force and the United States Army over the CAS mission and the A-10 Thunderbolt II in particular.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #34 on: May 17, 2014, 08:33:27 pm »
 
Describing the A-10 Thunderbolt II as "survivable" or "the most survivable plane ever built" is not the same as claiming that the aircraft is invincible. The United States Air Force also has strike and air superiority fighters to reduce the risks posed by high-level GBADs and high-level air threats, such as regiments of MiG-29s.

So how is the A-10 meant to do the CAS mission in the face of high level threats? Those other aircraft are for other missions. Capiche?
 
It does seem that the United States Air Force's customers for Close Air Support (CAS), the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps, want the A-10 and are skeptical of the claims that the CAS mission can be adequately performed by high-flying, fast jets with precision guided munitions.

Who said anything about the A-16 being a high flying jet relying on PGMs? It was to be a low flying jet shooting Mavericks at targets just like the A-10. It was just going to do it at about twice the speed thanks to its vehicle system and Falcon-Eye.
 
There is also disagreement within the Air Force over the capability that will be lost with the retirement of the A-10. I also can't discount the forty plus year battle between the United States Air Force and the United States Army over the CAS mission and the A-10 Thunderbolt II in particular.

The A-10 is great for CAS in a permissive environment. It’s just dead meat doing CAS in a high intensity environment.
 
As to the separate argument about PGMs in CAS please note that the A-10 required an extensive upgrade to bring it up to spec for the contemporary COIN CAS mission. The F-35 will bring sensor and command integration to the table that will make everything previous look as dead as dinosaurs.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline kcran567

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #35 on: May 17, 2014, 08:49:19 pm »
I don't think what I said deserved an insult Abraham. look at the context of the article. Of course there would be losses of A-10s but the article is heavily slanted anti-A-10.


And you saying I am wrong with how NATO was to deal with a scenario of where they were losing on the ground? Of course they would use tactical nukes as a last resort. You misunderstood my point. Depleted Uranium was also to be a last ditch weapon to be used in a losing scenario because it is radioactive and dangerous to be around when fired (dust particles etc). Now it's used all the time with little concern.

Offline GTX

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #36 on: May 17, 2014, 09:44:23 pm »

Against a high level GBAD threat (Soviet Army) and a high level air threat (regiments of MiG-29s) the A-10 is a dead duck.

Very much the same as was the Ju-87 against well flown fighters...sure, when the aerial/anti-air opposition is limited, the platform is second to none.  However, in other situations... ::)
« Last Edit: May 17, 2014, 09:58:27 pm by GTX »

Offline GTX

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #37 on: May 17, 2014, 09:48:46 pm »
Depleted Uranium was also to be a last ditch weapon to be used in a losing scenario because it is radioactive and dangerous to be around when fired (dust particles etc).


So when did the plan change?  It was obviously used without apparent concern in GWI.

Offline GTX

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #38 on: May 17, 2014, 09:56:04 pm »
Just more propaganda to get rid of the A-10 in my opinion.


Maybe some people need to give up their romantic nostalgia for the A-10? ::)


I find this whole argument for the A-10 akin to the arguments in the 1930s when some wanted open cockpit biplanes rather than going to closed cockpit monoplanes. Sure, the earlier generation (be that the biplanes or the A-10) were effective in their day. However, paradigms change. What was done in one era (such as the GAU-8) is no longer the only or even the best way to do the job. People need to move on. In this case, remember the A-10 as a great platform that did a good job (and I am sure there is no-one here who won't argue that it's gun was an awesome piece of equipment), but its day has come and it needs to exit the stage and let newer, better platforms take on the role in new ways.

Offline quellish

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #39 on: May 18, 2014, 12:04:46 am »

And you saying I am wrong with how NATO was to deal with a scenario of where they were losing on the ground? Of course they would use tactical nukes as a last resort. You misunderstood my point. Depleted Uranium was also to be a last ditch weapon to be used in a losing scenario because it is radioactive and dangerous to be around when fired (dust particles etc). Now it's used all the time with little concern.



Depleted uranium is naturally occurring uranium that has had the isotopes useful for weapons removed. At that point it is essentially just another heavy metal like tungsten, and there are certain health hazards that come with handling it improperly. Like tungsten it is very dense, which makes it useful for penetrating armor.
Depleted uranium was never a "last ditch" weapon.

Offline kcran567

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #40 on: May 18, 2014, 12:20:09 am »
Depleted Uranium was also to be a last ditch weapon to be used in a losing scenario because it is radioactive and dangerous to be around when fired (dust particles etc).


So when did the plan change?  It was obviously used without apparent concern in GWI.


Huge amounts of DU would've been used to stop an all out Soviet tank invasion. It is considered hazardous. The decision to use it in conflicts like Iraq was political I guess. But my earlier point that AG criticized was not comparing it to tactical nukes. I was trying to say that all that stuff would've been on the table.


 And to single out A-10s as so vulnerable. Imagine what would have happened to all the AH-64 pilots and Cobra pilots. It was just slanted against the A-10. I'm not nostalgic for the fabric winged biplanes of old I think ( and others) that the A-10 is going continue to be needed. Why is there talk of bringing the OV-10 back? Why would there be customers for the Scorpion?

Offline kcran567

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #41 on: May 18, 2014, 12:26:05 am »

And you saying I am wrong with how NATO was to deal with a scenario of where they were losing on the ground? Of course they would use tactical nukes as a last resort. You misunderstood my point. Depleted Uranium was also to be a last ditch weapon to be used in a losing scenario because it is radioactive and dangerous to be around when fired (dust particles etc). Now it's used all the time with little concern.



Depleted uranium is naturally occurring uranium that has had the isotopes useful for weapons removed. At that point it is essentially just another heavy metal like tungsten, and there are certain health hazards that come with handling it improperly. Like tungsten it is very dense, which makes it useful for penetrating armor.
Depleted uranium was never a "last ditch" weapon.


When it ignites in the barrel or ignites when hitting a target like a tank is where the concern is. There is debate about the health effects.


Offline quellish

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #42 on: May 18, 2014, 12:32:40 am »

When it ignites in the barrel or ignites when hitting a target like a tank is where the concern is. There is debate about the health effects.


Uninformed debate. Again, penetrators are made of dense heavy metals. Heavy metals have health hazards. They are not unique to depleted uranium.


There was no "political" decision wether to use depleted uranium rounds or not.

Offline J.A.W.

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #43 on: May 18, 2014, 12:39:47 am »
Really? Were they used in Europe during the Balkan wars of the `90s?
"I choose to believe - what I am programmed to believe.."

Offline kcran567

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #44 on: May 18, 2014, 12:55:34 am »

When it ignites in the barrel or ignites when hitting a target like a tank is where the concern is. There is debate about the health effects.


Uninformed debate. Again, penetrators are made of dense heavy metals. Heavy metals have health hazards. They are not unique to depleted uranium.


There was no "political" decision wether to use depleted uranium rounds or not.


The European Parliament is trying to get the EU to support a full ban. (2014) So it is highly political.  the American Navy has removed it from its arsenal, Army wants to keep it. There is some evidence that the DU used in Kosovo and the Gulf may have contained trace Plutonium and other toxic by-products. don't misunderstand me, I am not against DU, just that it was originally to be used against a large scale Soviet armor invasion.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 01:01:55 am by kcran567 »

Offline GTX

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #45 on: May 18, 2014, 01:21:10 am »
There is some evidence that the DU used in Kosovo and the Gulf may have contained trace Plutonium and other toxic by-products.


References?

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #46 on: May 18, 2014, 01:54:00 am »
People are talking about the A-10 not surviving CAS in a high threat environment. Personally speaking, I don't know of any aircraft, other than a helo, that can perform CAS in a high threat environment. If you tell me it's the F-35, I'm going to laugh, because;

a) It won't be flying low enough to use it's gun in a high threat environment and
b) If you think two bombs constitute a CAS mission, I'm going to laugh even harder.

As for the A-10 being used in low threat conflicts, I would argue that the 30mm cannon is overkill for such missions. Remember, it's not that the A-10 was designed for CAS in the terms most people are using it here, it was designed to specifically stop Russian tanks pouring through the Fulda gap.
If they were going to keep the A-10 for lower intensity warfare, I would replace the 30mm cannon with a 20mm cannon and allow it to carry that much more ammo.

But the simple fact is that the A-10 is going away and there isn't anything that is going to replace it. The Army knows this. The Air Force doesn't care.

I have one curiosity question, though; Does the A-10 use FADEC for it's engines? I just ask, because it is still mechanically controlled and was just thinking in a "high intensity" conflict, if an enemy used an EMP, it's the one fighter/attack aircraft you would expect that would be able to still fly. Not so much anything else in the front line inventory.

Offline GTX

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #47 on: May 18, 2014, 02:06:54 am »
a) It won't be flying low enough to use it's gun in a high threat environment and

There seems to be this mistaken assumption that CAS needs to be done at low level using the Mk1 eyeball.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  In Afghanistan for instance, CAS has been undertaken using B-1Bs flying at altitude well outside of the range of guns.

Remember:  The "Close" in "Close Air Support" refers to the proximity of the enemy to one's own troops, NOT the proximity of the aircraft to the action.

But the simple fact is that the A-10 is going away and there isn't anything that is going to replace it. The Army knows this. The Air Force doesn't care.


Warning: Reality bubble burst coming!  The F-35 (and many other systems) ARE replacing the A-10.  Moreover, this myth that the USAF doesn't care is just that, a myth!  Hell, the current Head of the USAF is a former A-10 pilot!  Anyone who continues to purport this myth is insulting the many USAF personnel who have operated and continue to operate the A-10 and who also continue to provide CAS to many troops on the ground, both with and without the A-10.

Offline Avimimus

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #48 on: May 18, 2014, 06:57:53 am »
Of course, one could make an argument that an A-37B or OV-1 replacement has been missing. Cheap, fuel-efficient loiter, with a decent bomb load. I guess the Predators now do that?

So, yes - the arguments don't really hold water about the A-10. But, there may be valid arguments for the Textron AirLand Scorpion.

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #49 on: May 18, 2014, 12:35:29 pm »
Why is there talk of bringing the OV-10 back?

More misplaced nostalgia by the ignorant or those with vested interests. ::)

Really? The United States Air Force Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) or Light Air Support (LAS) program was initiated due to misplaced nostalgia by the ignorant? It had nothing to do with the need for a new close air support aircraft that was suited to the type of combat the United States was facing in post 2003-invasion Iraq and Afghanistan? The United States Air Force had planned to acquire approximately 100 aircraft in the RFI dated July 27, 2009. So gazing into your crystal ball, you predict that the United States and coalition forces won't need to support ground troops in a low intensity conflict or COIN operation through the year 2040?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 12:54:58 pm by Triton »

Offline GTX

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #50 on: May 18, 2014, 01:17:50 pm »
Really? The United States Air Force Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) or Light Air Support (LAS) program was initiated due to misplaced nostalgia by the ignorant?

That is not what I said!  The program was quite legitimate in looking for a COIN/Low-intensity CAS platform (with the secondary potential of also providing such platforms to the Afghan Air Force IIRC).  What was "misplaced nostalgia by the ignorant or those with vested interests" IMHO was the arguments that the OV-10 could somehow be brought back into production to satisfy the need.  It was obvious from the start that either the AT-6B or EMB-314 would be the winners. 

Note also that a COIN/Low-intensity CAS platform such as that sought being sought under this program is an altogether different creature than a high intensity conflict CAS platform.  It also highlights one of the problems the A-10 has:  It is too much for the "Low end" but not enough for the high...

Offline GTX

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #51 on: May 18, 2014, 01:23:11 pm »

Since Abraham and GTX are convinced that all future conflicts will be in a high NGAD and high air threat requiring F-35, why on Earth would the United States Air Force need the Textron AirLand Scorpion?

Putting words in my mouth again are we? :o   Where have I stated that I am "convinced that all future conflicts will be in a high NGAD and high air threat requiring F-35"? ???

Mind you, I do feel that the Textron AirLand Scorpion is a wasted effort but more so because it doesn't fill a pressing specific need required by any of the major players and is also trying to find a niche in a market that is arguably already satisfied by existing platforms.  I wish them the best of luck, but wouldn't be surprised to see it ultimately go nowhere.  More than happy to put my money on this assessment too and to make a wager - are you? ::)

Offline AeroFranz

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #52 on: May 18, 2014, 01:26:01 pm »
Warning: Reality bubble burst coming!  The F-35 (and many other systems) ARE replacing the A-10.  Moreover, this myth that the USAF doesn't care is just that, a myth!  Hell, the current Head of the USAF is a former A-10 pilot!  Anyone who continues to purport this myth is insulting the many USAF personnel who have operated and continue to operate the A-10 and who also continue to provide CAS to many troops on the ground, both with and without the A-10.


Whoa, I share similar opinions to Sundog and I do not believe to disrespect in any way, shape or form warfighters. The AF does not have a record of having the support of ground operations first and foremost in its heart of hearts, so we could be forgiven for entertaining some reasonable doubts...
Please do not use language like that lightly.




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Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #53 on: May 18, 2014, 01:46:34 pm »
Putting words in my mouth again are we? :o   Where have I stated that I am "convinced that all future conflicts will be in a high NGAD and high air threat requiring F-35"? ???

I can't read your mind. I can only interpret the posts that you and Abraham have contributed to this discussion concerning the capabilities and vulnerabilities of the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Unfortunately, the United States Air Force is not also proposing an OA-X or AT-X program to address the capabilities that will be lost with the retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II and insists that the F-35 Lightning II is a replacement for the A-10. I would feel much better about the A-10 retirement if the Air Force had 100 or more LAAR/LAS aircraft in inventory to address potential low-intensity conflicts and COIN operations or an OA-X or AT-X program in development.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 02:02:28 pm by Triton »

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #54 on: May 18, 2014, 03:30:20 pm »
Warning: Reality bubble burst coming!  The F-35 (and many other systems) ARE replacing the A-10.  Moreover, this myth that the USAF doesn't care is just that, a myth!  Hell, the current Head of the USAF is a former A-10 pilot!  Anyone who continues to purport this myth is insulting the many USAF personnel who have operated and continue to operate the A-10 and who also continue to provide CAS to many troops on the ground, both with and without the A-10.

Now you've gone off the reservation, as you see, one of my best friends is from the A-10 community. You should remember that your opinion is yours alone and you can't speak for an entire community. Also, as history bears out, the USAF has been trying to rid itself of the A-10 for decades. That isn't my opinion; It's historical fact.

Offline F-14D

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #55 on: May 18, 2014, 04:13:42 pm »
Warning: Reality bubble burst coming!  The F-35 (and many other systems) ARE replacing the A-10.  Moreover, this myth that the USAF doesn't care is just that, a myth!  Hell, the current Head of the USAF is a former A-10 pilot!  Anyone who continues to purport this myth is insulting the many USAF personnel who have operated and continue to operate the A-10 and who also continue to provide CAS to many troops on the ground, both with and without the A-10.

Now you've gone off the reservation, as you see, one of my best friends is from the A-10 community. You should remember that your opinion is yours alone and you can't speak for an entire community. Also, as history bears out, the USAF has been trying to rid itself of the A-10 for decades. That isn't my opinion; It's historical fact.

I've got to back Sundog on this.  Without going into a long-winded dissertation, if you'll look back you'll see that one of the main reasons USAF brought the A-10 in was to counter the "threat" of Army doing CAS with the Cheyenne, and when Army canceled that n its own, they weren't actually sure what to do with  a plane that didn't fight other aircraft or do long range bombing.  It's been a stepchild for years.  One only has to look at USAF's plan for the A-10 in 89=90 to see what they thought of it.  Had it not been for Saddam going into  Kuwait, the A-10 would have been gone years ago. 

Also, comments on USAF hierarchy's level of support for CAS over the years shouldn't be taken as applicable to the those at the operational level who are actually out there doing the job

Offline kcran567

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #56 on: May 18, 2014, 04:32:55 pm »


I have one curiosity question, though; Does the A-10 use FADEC for it's engines? I just ask, because it is still mechanically controlled and was just thinking in a "high intensity" conflict, if an enemy used an EMP, it's the one fighter/attack aircraft you would expect that would be able to still fly. Not so much anything else in the front line inventory.


That's interesting. I thought the F-35 would be EMP hardened. Does that mean any old Mig-29s will be operational in an EMP attack while western frontline aircraft are idle? Does the F-35 use any fibre optic wiring which I believe would be EMP immune? (maybe getting rid of the A-10 is part of a larger conspiracy ::) )

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #57 on: May 18, 2014, 04:45:14 pm »
I presume that this book review makes the points that F-14D wanted to make about the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the Air Force's commitment to Close Air Support:

"Sunday Book Review: The Warthog and the Close Air Support Debate"
[ 55 ] November 10, 2013 | Robert Farley   

Source:
http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2013/11/sunday-book-review-the-warthog-and-the-close-air-support-debate

Quote
The A-10 Thunderbolt II is a curiously popular aircraft. It doesn’t look like a modern warplane, doesn’t fly at supersonic speed, and has never been exported to any other country.  Yet in popular culture the A-10 is ubiquitous, from Terminator to GI Joe to Transformers to dozens of  book covers.  Douglas Campbell’s  The Warthog and the Close Air Support Debate attempts to frame the history of the A-10 within the larger story of conflict between the Army and the Air Force.  For obvious reasons, I find this subject fascinating.

The contours of the myth of the A-10 are relatively well known.  Concerned that the Army would take control of the close air support mission with the AH-56 Cheyenne helicopter, the Air Force developed an alternative that could beat the Cheyenne on reliability and technical capacity.  The presence of the A-10 proposal gave Congress the excuse to cancel the troubled Cheyenne, after which the Air Force attempted to discard the murder weapon.  However, pressure from the Army and from Congress forced the Air Force to keep the A-10, and has kept the A-10 in service despite repeated USAF attempts to kill it over the years.

This story isn’t entirely wrong, but isn’t entirely right.

The problems, and consequently the story, begins well before the paper hits pencil on the earliest A-10 designs.  The USAAF was not well-prepared for the close air support mission before World War II, preferring behind-the-lines interdiction in cases where strategic bombing wasn’t warranted.  Disastrous experiences in North Africa led to institutional and organizational changes, forcing the ground and air forces to work together in a team that became very effective by 1944.

However, with the end of the war and the independence of the Air Force, attention to the close air support mission waned.  Campbell capably illustrates the difference between an official commitment to CAS (which the USAF has always maintained), and a genuine organizational commitment to CAS (which has varied widely over the history of the air-ground team).  The immediate post-war period, in which the USAF was dominated by the strategic bombing mission, was not a high point.  Tactical Air Command, responsible for close air support, interdiction, and other tactical missions, decided to fight for resources by emphasizing its ability to deliver nuclear weapons, a decision which had dreadful consequences for procurement (many fighters developed in the 1950s sacrificed air superiority capabilities for nuclear weapons delivery), training, and doctrine. Fighting in Korea was a struggle, even as the USAF managed to achieve complete air superiority over U.S. troops.

With the Kennedy Administration came Flexible Response, and a new emphasis on the joint air-ground team.  The Army began working hard on attack helicopters to fill the gap in USAF tactical capabilities, and McNamara even proposed assigning light tactical fixed wing attack jets to the Army, a prospect that the Air Force viewed with a great deal of hostility.  Intervention in Vietnam strained the capabilities of both services, with the Army ill-prepared to fight a counter-insurgency conflict and the Air Force not well suited to either the conventional bombing campaign over North Vietnam or the close air support mission in the South.  Nevertheless, the A-1 Skyraider performed well in the CAS mission, but as an aging propeller aircraft wasn’t particularly popular in the USAF.  Under significant duress the Air Force adopted the A-7, a development of the Navy’s F-8 Crusader which the Air Force regarded as old and inferior.

The A-7 was an inconvenience, but the  AH-56 Cheyenne was a problem.  The high performance Cheyenne could fly at speeds that challenged the A-1, yet had a helicopter’s flexibility.  It could threaten to take the CAS mission away from the Air Force.  While the USAF didn’t particularly dig CAS, it feared that a shift in responsibilities would also lead to a shift in resources.  Consequently, the Air Force responded by laying the framework for its own successor CAS aircraft, the A-X.

Turns out the Cheyenne was too advanced for its time, and could never quite be made to work.  The development of the A-X program reassured both Congress and the Army that the Air Force was sufficiently committed to providing close air support, which made the Cheyenne superfluous. The USAF didn’t love the A-X program, but the growing strength of TACAIR, combined with the belief that the USAF would have to adopt one attack aircraft or another, incurred grudging acceptance on the part of the Air Force. There’s no question that the rise of TACAIR led to considerably more attention for close air support; squadrons of A-10s practiced the mission at various Red Flag exercises.

The first serious Air Force effort to ditch the A-10 came in the mid-1980s, when a proposal to replace the A-10 with the F-16 garnered significant support.  The Air Force argued that A-10s were not survivable in a modern war environment, and that the “A-16″ had dual use potential.  Congress and the Army were not particularly amused, although the proposal did find some support in both places. The Air Force was slow to deploy the A-10 to Saudi Arabia in 1990, but internal pressure (largely emanating from the A-10 pilot corps itself) helped ensure that the Warthog would have a role.  The A-10 performed very effectively during the war, although its loss rate was significant.  There’s little question that the USAF, still interested in the F-16 option, downplayed the success of the A-10, but the image of the Warthog destroying Iraqi tanks in the desert became sufficiently popular in Congress that plans to retire it were shelved.  The A-10 survived the post-Cold War drawdown, and survived (with Congressional support) another retirement effort in the early 2000s.

I’m ambivalent about the future of the A-10. Armor notwithstanding, the Warthog isn’t particularly appropriate for a contested airspace, unless you can sacrifice hundreds of aircraft in pursuit of the destruction of several hard-charging Soviet armored divisions. The A-10 does very well in situations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the opponent lacks the capacity to hit even a low and slow aircraft with anything more than small arms fire. It’s not an ideal aircraft for such a situation; something like a Super Tucano or an AT-6 is a better, cheaper counter-insurgency aircraft. But then, the chance that the Air Force will replace the A-10 with something like the Texan or the Super Tucano is regarded as virtually nil, which is why so many communities committed to maintaining the close air support mission are willing to go to the wall for the Warthog. In some ways, the continued sentimental attachment to the A-10 obscures the real issues associated with inter-service conflict and the close air support mission, and muddles the conversation about the appropriate level of prioritization for CAS against other missions.

But then, many old planes can prove very useful at new jobs (hello, B-52!), and you can do a lot with an airframe like the A-10.  Wing replacements can keep existing planes flying until 2040, and fuel tank upgrades can increase range and loiter capacity. Additional weapon system upgrades can make the plane considerably more lethal, and it will always be better at some aspects of the job than the F-16 or F-35, although it may not perform much better than the system of drone-driven CAS that’s emerging in Afghanistan.

This book doesn’t answer every question about either the A-10 or the history of close air support, but it’s a pretty good introduction to both subjects. Campbell has obvious affection for the A-10, which is an odd thing to say were it not for the fact that nearly everyone seems to have a great deal of affection for the A-10. An update which covered the contributions of the A-10 to both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the most recent bureaucratic conflicts associated with the aircraft, would be more than welcome.

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #58 on: May 18, 2014, 05:41:36 pm »
Perhaps instead of twisting the United States Air Force's arm to keep the remaining 246 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs through 2040 for CAS, the government should instead fund 368 Sikorsky S-97 Raider light tactical helicopters and Future Vertical Lift for the United States Army Aviation Branch?  The last I heard about the LAAR/LAS program was that the 20 Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft were going to be transferred to the Afghan Air Force.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 06:11:49 pm by Triton »

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #59 on: May 18, 2014, 06:33:06 pm »
 There is so much stupid in this thread it’s much better just to start with a cleanskin response rather than point by point rebuttal. The great irony is that even though we are 25 years later many of the “pro A-10” lobby are repeating exactly the same things that USAF CAS Gen. Larry Welch said they were doing back in 89:
 
Welch said that "We have provided all that data to all of those (who think they understand the problem), who need all that information to arrive at their conclusion. They've been unable to do so. And you have a right to ask, 'why have they been unable to do so?' Very simple. The data does not say Mudfighter," the relatively inexpensive type of aircraft that many prefer over the A-16.
 
The situation, Welch said, confirms his view that in Washington, "it is a common management technique to save time in reaching a conclusion by omitting all the relevant facts."
 
Which one could just as easily apply to some people here at secretproject.co.uk though perhaps time is not the issue but rather mental capacity.
 
Some basic fact refreshing:
 
 
  • USAF is not against the CAS mission (they have assigned B-1Bs to CAS to get the job done!)
  • USAF wanted to replace the A-10 with the A-16 because the former could not survive against a high level GBAD and air threat.
  • The A-10 has only demonstrated useful CAS capability in low intensity conflicts (ODS, OIF, OEF).
  • There is no evidence that the A-16 would have been deficient in these campaigns if it was in service in place of the A-10 (the F/A-16 is NOT the A-16).
  • The only way the A-10 has been useful in OEF is with a major systems upgrade which the A-16 would have had from ISD
  • The F-35 will be able to do the CAS mission far better than the A-10 because of its sensors.
 
And the most important fact:
 
Weapon systems designed for high intensity warfare can be used successfully in low intensity conflicts. But not vice versa.
 
Ohh and one more:
 
Many fighter pilots in the 1930s were against enclosed cockpits because the standard of the initial transparencies were very low. That is they couldn’t see through the glass in order to establish basic situational awareness. SA was more important than reduced drag.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #60 on: May 18, 2014, 09:32:04 pm »
 
Remember, it's not that the A-10 was designed for CAS in the terms most people are using it here, it was designed to specifically stop Russian tanks pouring through the Fulda gap.

I forgot to respond to this point in my last post above. It is of course totally wrong. The A-10 was not designed as a Central Front anti tank platform. It was designed to meet a spec written based on the VietNam War experience of A-1 Skyraider pilots. It was to be an ultimate Spad. Even the big Avenger gun system was speced to meet the VietNam War fighting role. Firing HEI ammo of course which was later supplemented by the DU armour piercing ammo to give it an anti tank capability.
 
But as an anti tank platform in a contested environment the A-10 is primarily a Maverick shooter. For which with only Pave Penny to help with offboard targeting its pretty poor at it. Unlike the A-16 with its helmet mounted sight, nav system, etc. The Avenger gun as an anti tank weapon is very limited based on the gun attack flight profile needed to get the shells onto the targets. Which makes it extremely vulnerable to an enemy with a function GBAD system. Little problem against someone with only 12.7mm HMGs and SA-7s as in VietNam, ODS, OIF and OEF but a sure death sentence up against the Soviet Army.
 
 
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline Triton

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Offline quellish

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #62 on: May 18, 2014, 11:10:51 pm »

Close Air Support is defined as air action against hostile targets that in close proximity to friendly forces. "Close" is not defined, but is driven by the specific situtation. That said, the capabilities of platforms and weapons available does determine how support is employed and in what proximity to friendly forces. CAS can be preplanned or immediate (i.e. as part of support to a planned ground operation, or in support of an immediate ground forces need).


CAS is driven by JTAC/FAC. The core of CAS tasking is the 9-line briefing. It includes information like the initial point, heading and offset from the initial point, distance, elevation, target description, target location, and wether there will be ice cream afterwards.
Maybe not the ice cream.
Especially relevant to this discussion is the type of control for the CAS tasking, and the tyoe of employment.


There are 3 CAS control types:
Type 1 is used when the JTAC/FAC must visually acquire the attacking aircraft and the target is the best means available to reduce risk to friendly forces.
Type 2 is used when JTAC/FAC requires control of individual attacks but the JTAC/FAC or attacking aircraft is unable to visually acquire the target (or mark) or attacking aircraft.
Type 3 is used when the JTAC/FAC requires multiple attcks within a single engagement under specific attack restrictions and the conditions of Type 2 also apply.


It's up to the JTAC/FAC to decide which type to use given the environmental conditions, ROE, available assets and other conditions. On a day with a low ceiling type 1 may not be an option. The JTAC/FAC may decide that a type 2 or 3 control is not worth the additional risk, or they may decide that the need is urgent enough to move forward with a type 2 attack given the assets available.


The JTAC/FAC controls the method of engagement. This is either "Bomb on target" (BOT) or "Bomb on coordinates" (BOC). BOT is when the attacking aircrew has a tally on the intended target. The attacking aircraft works with the JTAC/FAC to positively identify the target. A BOT attack can be used to pursue a mobile target, or can be used to avoid the delay of generating precise coordinates for a BOC attack. BOT attacks are typically executed at low altitude. As an example, an Apache tasked with CAS may conduct a BOT attack under the control of a JTAC/FAC using a type 1 control.


BOC attacks are used when the JTAC/FAC determines that they can get the desired effects by attacking a set of coordinates. BOC attacks do not require the JTAC/FAC or attacking aircrew to visually acquire the target, which can save time, or may not be possible given the environmental conditions or assets available. As an example, a B-1 tasked with CAS may conduct a BOC attack under a type 2 control.


And this is where the A-16/F/A-16 comes in. The A-16 was intended to operate as a direct replacement for the A-10 for BOT attacks under a variety of controls, and as a FAC(A) replacing the OA-10. During low altitude combat the greatest threat to aircraft surviviability is the terrain. That threat increases with speed. More speed means more room is needed to maneuver, and there is less time for a pilot to react. It also means less time to observe a target and less time to conduct a pass on a target. These factors affected the performance of the Falcon as a direct replacement for the Hog.
The Falcon had a number of techical issues with the gun, avonics, and software - mostly issues that probably could have been resolved within a few years. The aircrews flying them had previous CAS and FAC experience and provided detailed feedback. The Falcon was not a good fit for this role even if the technical problems were resolved. For this and other reasons, DoD dropped the A-16 project.


Today there are again efforts to "replace" the A-10 with another platform similar to the F-16. It seems that daylight BOT and type 1 JTAC/FAC control will be relegated to rotary wing assets, with the "replacement" platform performing BOC at high altitude (in CAS terms, 8k and above is "high") - making it just another bomb truck rather than a replacement for the A-10 or OA-10 in terms of capability. The F/A-16 would have been similar as it was not intended as a *direct* replacement for the A-10.


As far as CAS in contested enviroments, current DoD joint doctrine does specify air superiority (including SEAD) as a condition for effective CAS as well as recommendations for CAS operations in nonpermissive environments (including "don't" and ). Low altitude threats from MANPADs and AAA are discussed separately as post-DESERT STORM these are generally assumed to always be present.
In general CAS is rarely conducted without control of the air, and low level is always presumed to be a high threat environment (though not from radar guided threats).

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #63 on: May 19, 2014, 12:05:50 am »
Thank you for your detailed response, quellish.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #64 on: May 19, 2014, 12:46:42 am »
 
The Falcon had a number of techical issues with the gun, avonics, and software - mostly issues that probably could have been resolved within a few years. The aircrews flying them had previous CAS and FAC experience and provided detailed feedback. The Falcon was not a good fit for this role even if the technical problems were resolved. For this and other reasons, DoD dropped the A-16 project.
 

 
TheA-16 went the same way as the RF-16 (ATARS) post Cold War “peace dividend” cancellation. With which is shared lots of avionics. Filing the peace dividend cancellations under “other reasons” is ridiculous.
 
The real CAS mission is only part of what the ‘public concept’ of CAS is. The other part of it Battlefield Air Interdiction (BAI) is just as important. For example in ODS the A-10 flew very few CAS missions. But try and tell that to the fanboys. It flew lots of BAI however.
 
The F-16 may have proven deficient in CAS but the A-16 was to have the avionics in both navigation, target hand off and target acquisition to make a real difference to that mission. And fly BAI at 200 knots more than the A-10 (500 vs 300). And do it all at night and in bad weather as well.
 
The gun pod was a nightmare but hardly a deal breaker. The A-16 still had its M61 20mm Vulcan. An elegant solution to the failure of the GPU-5 would be to ditch both the 1,800 pound pod and the internal M61. And fit in the place of the M61 the GAU-12 25mm cannon. You have a gun with the same accuracy as the GAU-8 in the A-10 (5 milliradian) and all the advantages of internal carriage. It may lack the striking power of the 30mm but it’s a lot better than 20mm.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline Jemiba

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #65 on: May 19, 2014, 03:45:09 am »
Having a look into my crystal ball I see ... I see .... a thread to be closed soon !   >:(
What on earth makes it so difficult, to have a reasonable discussion, without offending
or disparage other members ? Just go into the deepest wood and shout it out there,
but please, please behave like reasonable people here !   ::)
Several reported posts and the triggering and following ones deleted, probably harmful to
the understanding of the whole thread, but what else could be done ? Banning ??!  >:(
It takes a long time, before all mistakes are made ...

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #66 on: May 19, 2014, 09:17:04 am »
Today there are again efforts to "replace" the A-10 with another platform similar to the F-16. It seems that daylight BOT and type 1 JTAC/FAC control will be relegated to rotary wing assets, with the "replacement" platform performing BOC at high altitude (in CAS terms, 8k and above is "high") - making it just another bomb truck rather than a replacement for the A-10 or OA-10 in terms of capability. The F/A-16 would have been similar as it was not intended as a *direct* replacement for the A-10.

As far as CAS in contested enviroments, current DoD joint doctrine does specify air superiority (including SEAD) as a condition for effective CAS as well as recommendations for CAS operations in nonpermissive environments (including "don't" and ). Low altitude threats from MANPADs and AAA are discussed separately as post-DESERT STORM these are generally assumed to always be present.

In general CAS is rarely conducted without control of the air, and low level is always presumed to be a high threat environment (though not from radar guided threats).

Is the current rotary wing fleet capable of adequately performing most BOT CAS missions if the A-10 is retired? Or does this mission require the speed of a fixed wing aircraft?
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 09:42:49 am by Triton »

Offline Jemiba

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #67 on: May 19, 2014, 09:49:19 am »
Not quite sure, but when using smart bombs, higher speed probably means
a larger "basket" for dropping them, so more distance between the CAS aircraft
and its target, equalling more safety.
It takes a long time, before all mistakes are made ...

Offline Avimimus

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #68 on: May 19, 2014, 10:13:32 am »
Really? The United States Air Force Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) or Light Air Support (LAS) program was initiated due to misplaced nostalgia by the ignorant?

That is not what I said!  The program was quite legitimate in looking for a COIN/Low-intensity CAS platform (with the secondary potential of also providing such platforms to the Afghan Air Force IIRC).  What was "misplaced nostalgia by the ignorant or those with vested interests" IMHO was the arguments that the OV-10 could somehow be brought back into production to satisfy the need.  It was obvious from the start that either the AT-6B or EMB-314 would be the winners. 

Note also that a COIN/Low-intensity CAS platform such as that sought being sought under this program is an altogether different creature than a high intensity conflict CAS platform.  It also highlights one of the problems the A-10 has:  It is too much for the "Low end" but not enough for the high...

I agree with the basic observation about the A-10. However, the OV-10 does have some nice capabilities compared to many COIN designs - like a small cargo bay and the added survivability produced by being a twin-engined design.

It'd actually be a lot of fun to have another thread in the Bar to discuss what the ideal COIN would look like (as this thread is a bit swamped with A-16 vs. A-10 and jurisdictional strife. It reminds me of an old science-fiction story were a tense stand-off on the moon ends with the realisation that different branches of the U.S. military both had secret moon-base programs that the others weren't aware of).

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #69 on: May 19, 2014, 10:53:01 am »
 I see the OV-10X is a good COIN platform as long as they don’t try and take it into areas that it does not belong (ie the two losses the USMC had in GW1 due to likely MANPADs).
 
I would change the avionics & armament a bit:
1.  Swap out the 20mm Gatling and putting in the same gun as the Apache.
2.  Use more LOGIR and APKWS rockets
3.  LZUNI for a bigger punch and much cheaper than Hellfire
4.  Grab the EODAS & Helmet from the F-35.
 
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Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #70 on: May 19, 2014, 11:48:12 am »
Not quite sure, but when using smart bombs, higher speed probably means a larger "basket" for dropping them, so more distance between the CAS aircraft and its target, equalling more safety.

So isn't the A-10 debate really about concern of a gap in capability of the United States military to perform the BOT CAS mission?

Offline quellish

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #71 on: May 19, 2014, 03:39:39 pm »

Is the current rotary wing fleet capable of adequately performing most BOT CAS missions if the A-10 is retired? Or does this mission require the speed of a fixed wing aircraft?


Depends on who you ask.
When the Army shifted to AirLand Battle doctrine, the Army decided to use rotary wing aircraft for CAS with the Air Force's role being diminished. Instead, the Air Force was going to focus more on "battlefield interdiction" and the more traditional air interdiction.
Air interdiction is the application of air power against enemy military potential before it can be used against friendly ground forces. This can be things like enemy supply depots, other fixed targets, etc.
Battlefield air interdiction is applying air power against enemy forces before they can close with an engage friendly ground forces. For example, hitting the Republican Guard before they find friendly forces.
So the Army would have been using rotary wing forces in the CAS role, while the Air Force would have a more limited CAS role and focus on AI and BAI to hit the enemy before they moved forward to the ground fight.


Today CAS is a mixed bag of different assets across different services. Rotary wing aircraft certainly do a lot of CAS, but they are extremely vulnerable to ground fire ranging from small arms on up. They have limited range, can't in flight refuel, and have limited speed. Removing a CAS asset like the A-10 creates a gap. To fill that gap more rotary wing assets and support would be needed to cover the same battlefield. More helicopters, more FARPs. The BOT mission doesn't *require* speed, but speed gets the asset to the fight faster and lets it cover more ground.

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #72 on: May 19, 2014, 04:46:37 pm »
Remember, it's not that the A-10 was designed for CAS in the terms most people are using it here, it was designed to specifically stop Russian tanks pouring through the Fulda gap.

I forgot to respond to this point in my last post above. It is of course totally wrong. The A-10 was not designed as a Central Front anti tank platform. It was designed to meet a spec written based on the VietNam War experience of A-1 Skyraider pilots. It was to be an ultimate Spad. Even the big Avenger gun system was speced to meet the VietNam War fighting role. Firing HEI ammo of course which was later supplemented by the DU armour piercing ammo to give it an anti tank capability.
 
But as an anti tank platform in a contested environment the A-10 is primarily a Maverick shooter. For which with only Pave Penny to help with offboard targeting its pretty poor at it. Unlike the A-16 with its helmet mounted sight, nav system, etc. The Avenger gun as an anti tank weapon is very limited based on the gun attack flight profile needed to get the shells onto the targets. Which makes it extremely vulnerable to an enemy with a function GBAD system. Little problem against someone with only 12.7mm HMGs and SA-7s as in VietNam, ODS, OIF and OEF but a sure death sentence up against the Soviet Army.

Thanks for the informative reply. I knew it was an A-1 replacement to a certain extent, but my understanding, quite apparently wrong, was that the gun was primarily anti-tank, but yes, most of the pics I've seen of it are with the Mavericks. Most of the remaining pylons usually having ECM, sidewinders and DT's. For all of it's capability to lug weapons around, it usually doesn't seem to carry many operationally.

Also, thanks Quellish for the detailed definition of CAS. This thread probably should have started out there.

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #73 on: May 19, 2014, 05:08:24 pm »
Thank you also for responding to my question concerning BOT CAS and the rotary wing fleet, quellish.

Offline bobbymike

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #74 on: May 19, 2014, 08:42:33 pm »
No one is advocating sending the AH-64 Apache Longbow to the boneyard because of the threat of radar-guided SAMs and SPAAGs.

The Apache is a helicopter. It can hover at an altitude of 6 feet AGL. The A-10 is an aircraft. It can not hover nor can it safely fly for long periods below tree top level. The difference is rather important when facing a high level GBAD threat.

Exactly AG - Correct me if I am wrong but weren't some of the opening shots of Iraq I air war Apaches hovering at about 6ft AGL taking out Iraqi radar installations to open a 'corridor' for the fast movers?
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Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #75 on: May 19, 2014, 09:40:13 pm »
 
Thanks for the informative reply. I knew it was an A-1 replacement to a certain extent, but my understanding, quite apparently wrong, was that the gun was primarily anti-tank, but yes, most of the pics I've seen of it are with the Mavericks. Most of the remaining pylons usually having ECM, sidewinders and DT's. For all of it's capability to lug weapons around, it usually doesn't seem to carry many operationally.

The history of the spec writing for the A-X is detailed in Corum’s book on Boyd. Pierre Sprey wrote the detailed 1969 spec based on discussions with A-1 Skyraider pilots operating in VietNam. The ideal aircraft should have long loiter time, low-speed manoeuvrability, massive cannon firepower, and extreme survivability.
 
Maverick was developed before A-X but was the premier USAF anti tank weapon of the 70s and 80s. If the A-10 had ever been used extensively in COIN operations before the development of smart weapons it would probably have flown with large numbers of under wing Mk 82s, CBUs and fire bombs. It was just too late for the missions of the 60s and early 70s and the US didn’t play a big role in the COIN campaigns of the late 70s and 1980s.
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Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #76 on: May 20, 2014, 10:38:45 am »
The great irony is that even though we are 25 years later many of the “pro A-10” lobby are repeating exactly the same things that USAF CAS Gen. Larry Welch said they were doing back in 89:
 
Welch said that "We have provided all that data to all of those (who think they understand the problem), who need all that information to arrive at their conclusion. They've been unable to do so. And you have a right to ask, 'why have they been unable to do so?' Very simple. The data does not say Mudfighter," the relatively inexpensive type of aircraft that many prefer over the A-16.
 
The situation, Welch said, confirms his view that in Washington, "it is a common management technique to save time in reaching a conclusion by omitting all the relevant facts."

What was Gen. Larry Welch's response at the time to concerns about a loss of BOT CAS capability with the retirement of the A-10? Rotary wing assets and FARPs?

Offline bobbymike

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #77 on: May 20, 2014, 02:08:32 pm »

Weapon systems designed for high intensity warfare can be used successfully in low intensity conflicts. But not vice versa.
 

And that quote sums up, for me at least, the entire debate in a time of austere budgets. Without budget issues I would maintain the A-10 but it may no longer be an option and even then I think I would still trade it away for more of something else like an S-97 type vehicle.
 
Secondly, other than Iran and North Korea is there any other place the US will commit ground troops, in large numbers, that would constitute a high threat environment? The future seems to be a very large engagement with a fairly advanced enemy force or SOLIC in Africa or some such place where CAS most likely will be a Reaper or two.
 
As usual presented; IMHO  :D
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 02:42:54 pm by bobbymike »
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Offline RyanC

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #78 on: May 20, 2014, 04:02:39 pm »
Abraham, I have to disagree with you, w.r.t the A-10.

According to your own source (Coram's Bio of Boyd); Sprey insisted that everyone involved with A-X read Hans Ulrich Rudel's autobiography -- that's a key point as to what the intended use of A-X was going to be; not fighting a far off COIN war in the jungles.

Additionally; the original A-X RAD called for fixed guns with "capability equal to or better than four M-39 20mm guns" -- a capability already met in the A-7D Corsair and it's M61 -- I recall reading a oral history of the Vietnam War which had an anecedote regarding the first combat use of the A-7D in a CAS environment -- they were asked how much ammo they had by the FAC; and they went "1,000 rounds of 20 mike mike" and there was much shock over this value -- so why was the GAU-8 developed if the M61 with 1000 rd pack was sufficient for Vietnam COIN?

During development of the GAU-8 / GAU-9 (US version of Oerlikon 304RK) guns, there was much concern over armor penetration of the ammunition against hard targets; why would this be if it was designed to re-fight Vietnam?

I think you're getting Phase I (Boyd inspired Vietnam turboprop stuff) A-X that existed before June 1967 mixed up with post June 1967 Phase II (ETO heavy jet CAS) A-X.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 04:07:33 pm by RyanCrierie »

Offline RyanC

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #79 on: May 20, 2014, 04:26:20 pm »
Against a high level GBAD threat (Soviet Army) and a high level air threat (regiments of MiG-29s) the A-10 is a dead duck. Too fast to hide and too slow to escape. And airframe ruggedness and cockpit armour is not going to save you when they get you hit by these types of weapons.

So why did the VVS procure the Su-25, a close analogue to the YA-9A -- when faced with the same level of ground threat -- (while US GBAD was pathetic, NATO GBAD wasn't (Gepard/Roland) ) -- and the same level of air threat (roaming swarms of NATO fighters)?

Even attack helicopters are pretty vulnerable in the Central Front threat level battlefield envisioned late 1970s to early 1980s; yet the leading nations procured or developed very expensive attack helicopters; which would have been brutally expended in any conflict for any advantage; however slim.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #80 on: May 20, 2014, 04:32:27 pm »
 
What was Gen. Larry Welch's response at the time to concerns about a loss of BOT CAS capability with the retirement of the A-10?

300 A-16s.
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Offline RyanC

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #81 on: May 20, 2014, 04:34:38 pm »
Little problem against someone with only 12.7mm HMGs and SA-7s as in VietNam, ODS, OIF and OEF but a sure death sentence up against the Soviet Army.


Actually, USAF studies in 1985 indicated that the A-10 would be survivable in mid to high intensity conflicts until the mid 1990s -- at which point newer generation SAMs or MANPADs would make things a bit iffy; along with more of the battlefield shifting to 24-hour round the clock conflict -- requiring more all-weather capability.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #82 on: May 20, 2014, 04:40:31 pm »
 
I think you're getting Phase I (Boyd inspired Vietnam turboprop stuff) A-X that existed before June 1967 mixed up with post June 1967 Phase II (ETO heavy jet CAS) A-X.

I’m not trying to argue that the A-10 and GAU-8 were not designed to have an anti armour mission but that it was added on to the existing design concept of a COIN aircraft during the development cycle. And all of these examples you raise further reinforce it.
 
Spec: interviews with combat pilots in current action is a far greater influence than reading a book from WWII
Gun: the original requirement was for a high velocity 30mm. For improved accuracy (5 mils vs 8 mils) and improved striking power (360g HEI vs 100g HEI).
AP: if the gun was speced originally as an anti tank weapon they would have gone for an anti tank calibre like 37-57mm. You have a problem with penetration capability when you have a pre-exsisting concept (30mm) that you now want to make it do more.
 
 
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #83 on: May 20, 2014, 04:42:48 pm »
 
So why did the VVS procure the Su-25, a close analogue to the YA-9A -- when faced with the same level of ground threat -- (while US GBAD was pathetic, NATO GBAD wasn't (Gepard/Roland) ) -- and the same level of air threat (roaming swarms of NATO fighters)?

Soviets do things differently especially since they were going to be the attacking ones. And their Su-25 is very different to the A-10. It has more speed and more sensors and different weapons.
 
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #84 on: May 20, 2014, 05:18:14 pm »

Secondly, other than Iran and North Korea is there any other place the US will commit ground troops, in large numbers, that would constitute a high threat environment? The future seems to be a very large engagement with a fairly advanced enemy force or SOLIC in Africa or some such place where CAS most likely will be a Reaper or two.

Have the next two wars already planned, bobbymike? Will the United States military and coalition forces might engage in any unforeseen wars or international crises between now and 2040? Did anyone predict the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia or IFOR and KFOR? Somalia? The Crimea/Ukraine crisis?

Offline RyanC

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #85 on: May 20, 2014, 06:04:00 pm »
Gun: the original requirement was for a high velocity 30mm. For improved accuracy (5 mils vs 8 mils) and improved striking power (360g HEI vs 100g HEI).

Actually, the original A/X Requirements in the December 1966 Requirements Action Directive (as I said before) was for "capability equal to or better than four M-39 20mm guns".

It's worth noting that the Vought V-502 series of proposals for A/X back when it was Phase I were all armed with a 20mm M61 with 1,500 rounds -- meeting the "greater than 4 x M39 Cannon" requirement -- you can find them on this board; here:

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,2615.0/all.html

AP: if the gun was speced originally as an anti tank weapon they would have gone for an anti tank calibre like 37-57mm. You have a problem with penetration capability when you have a pre-exsisting concept (30mm) that you now want to make it do more.

Extremely large caliber weapons (37x263 [BK 3.7]) weren't feasible with the technologies of the time or envisioned, due to low rates of fire and low ammunition stowage.

If we were doing "big gun on aircraft" again; extremely large caliber weapons would be feasible, thanks to much better computer assisted targeting (like that on Eurofighter).

As it is, the 30x173 round the GAU-8 uses is pretty big compared to other aircraft armament -- in some ways comparable to the 37x155 the N-37 fired.

PS -- The USAF's Armament Laboratory in 1967-68 proposed two armaments for the A-X:

Option I: M61 scaled up to fire the US Army's 30x100B WECOM round at 2,000~ fps and 6,000 RPM

Option II: 25mm weapon fired at 4,000 fps. This was eliminated because it would have delivered a fully developed gun by 1972; two years after the then-demanded 1970 IOC of A/X.

The 30x100B WECOM round is significantly smaller than the 30x173; you can find photos of them on Anthony William's site.

Other investigated concepts later were using the Army's Bushmaster VRFW-S (abandoned when they couldn't solve the "turbine engine ingests discarded sabot" problem).

In one study, a contractor proposed a 57mm recoilless rifle (!) for armament (all the other contractors in that study recommended a 30mm gun).
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 06:06:15 pm by RyanCrierie »

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #86 on: May 20, 2014, 06:24:10 pm »
And their Su-25 is very different to the A-10. It has more speed and more sensors and different weapons.

The A-9 had the same speed advantage over the A-10 that the Su-25 has (100 MPH) -- with modern AA weapons, 100 MPH isn't as noticeably useful as it was in WWII in avoiding ground fire.

As for sensors and different weapons -- the two aircraft (A-10/Su-25) have closely paralleled each other in sensors and weapons fits -- very basic initial sensors and weapons; followed by modernization in the 2000s.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #87 on: May 20, 2014, 06:26:11 pm »
 
Actually, the original A/X Requirements in the December 1966 Requirements Action Directive (as I said before) was for "capability equal to or better than four M-39 20mm guns".

 
I was referring to the later spec as the context of the discussion (at that time) was why did the A-10 have the GAU-8.
 
Extremely large caliber weapons (37x263 [BK 3.7]) weren't feasible with the technologies of the time or envisioned, due to low rates of fire and low ammunition stowage.

They were extremely feasible because they were off the shelf (personally I would probably select a 35mm or 40mm L70 gun). If you were actually required under the 69 A-X spec to build an anti tank aircraft then you wouldn’t fit a very large 30mm cannon with high rate of fire. If you decided a gun was needed to engage tanks, or were required to have a gun, then for starters a radar or laser would be fitted to provide all important ranging data. And a gun that can actually defeat the target. You wouldn’t need the high rate of fire and deep magazine because you could hit and kill the target with far less number of rounds.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 06:28:39 pm by Abraham Gubler »
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Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #88 on: May 20, 2014, 06:30:06 pm »
As for sensors and different weapons -- the two aircraft (A-10/Su-25) have closely paralleled each other in sensors and weapons fits -- very basic initial sensors and weapons; followed by modernization in the 2000s.

Ahh no. The Su-25 flew from the start with a laser rangefinder, target designator. The A-10 attack system was all gunsight and pilot head until recently.
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Offline Avimimus

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #89 on: May 20, 2014, 06:44:11 pm »
 

So why did the VVS procure the Su-25, a close analogue to the YA-9A -- when faced with the same level of ground threat -- (while US GBAD was pathetic, NATO GBAD wasn't (Gepard/Roland) ) -- and the same level of air threat (roaming swarms of NATO fighters)?

Soviets do things differently especially since they were going to be the attacking ones. And their Su-25 is very different to the A-10. It has more speed and more sensors and different weapons.

Ah - more speed and much more maneuverability at speed (The A-10's degrees per second turn rate drops off quickly as speed increases - the Su-25 is able to maintain its maximum turn rate at high-subsonic speeds and reasonable weapon loads - the turn profiles are almost completely different). A good observation indeed.

That said, it is worth adding the clarification - the improved sensors appear in the later anti-tank versions (and night-time anti-tank versions). The original Su-25 just had the Mk.1 eyeball and a bunch of dials/lights.

It is worth noting that the Su-25 was procured in fairly small numbers. I suspect it was always seen as a specialised close-support platform for medium-to-low intensity environments - with the ability to use it in higher threat environments only with greater casualties.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 08:31:42 pm by Avimimus »

Offline Avimimus

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #90 on: May 20, 2014, 06:50:53 pm »





If we were doing "big gun on aircraft" again; extremely large caliber weapons would be feasible, thanks to much better computer assisted targeting (like that on Eurofighter).

Ah, I've been quietly stewing on this all day. A 40mm Bofors derivative could get a fair degree of accuracy out to 6km. If it could be elevated it could fire beyond the range of even modern SHORAD.

Modern fire-control would make accurate laying of fire possible. A semi-rigid mount firing in semi-automatic mode (200 rpm) could provide adequate off-boresight/wind-correction without excessive recoil.

Modern bursting munitions would be effective against infantry, the 115 gram high explosive charge would be effective against light earthworks and soft targets, armour penetrating rounds would be powerful enough to take out IFV or cripple tanks at medium ranges (5km).

It would be easy to carry a couple hundred rounds and fire above MANPADs and the range of 23mm-30mm anti-aircraft weapons. Even legacy SAMs could be engaged, provided their effective range was less than five kilometers.

It certainly is an interesting idea to design an aircraft around.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 08:31:18 pm by Avimimus »

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #91 on: May 20, 2014, 06:59:32 pm »
 
That said, it is worth adding the clarification - the improved sensors appear in the later anti-tank versions (and night-time anti-tank versions). The original Su-25 just had the Mk.1 eyeball and a bunch of dials/lights.

Nope they came with the laser rangefinder bombing system and laser target designator (AS-10, AS-14 missiles) from the start. These are important capability differences compared to the A-10 enabling bombing in a much more survivable profile and of course the guided missile capability with far quicker target acquisition than the add on Maverick. It’s that little window in the bottom part of the nose of the Su-25 makes for all the difference.
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Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #92 on: May 20, 2014, 07:26:31 pm »
 
Ah, I've been quietly stewing on this all day. A 40mm Bofors derivative could get a fair degree of accuracy out to 6km. If it could be elevated it could fire beyond the range of even modern SHORAD.

Dispersion at these ranges is going to be so high (your 80% circle is going to have a diameter of 150m at 6km for a 2mrad weapon) that you’re not going to directly hit anything (which you need to get an AP round into a vehicle). But the advantage of the bigger, more accurate guns is you need less rounds to guarantee a hit against a typical AFV at typical combat ranges.
 
Narrowing it down a bit if you were in 1969 going to replace the GAU-8 development with a dedicated anti-tank weapon development I would think a lightweight 35x228mm gun (like the ARES Talon or Bushmaster III) would be a good development. It would fit roughly into the weight and volume of the GAU-8 gun and magazine and enable two magazines of around 250-300 rounds each (different ammunition natures with twin feeds enabling round selectable bursts).
 
Firing a two second burst 18 rounds from 550 rpm) would put 14 into a 3m diameter circle at 1,200m range (2 mrad 35mm gun). Firing APDS ammunition that would perforate over 120mm of RHA at this range would be extremely lethal. And thanks to the twin feed you can select the other magazine and shoot 100% HEI at soft targets. And have enough ammo for 16 two second bursts of each type (APDS & HEI).
 
You’re not going to have as good a supressing fire front gun to keep the trigger down while you swoop in to drop napalm and anti pers bombs against the VC but you would have a much better gun for rolling in on tanks from low altitude attacks.
 
 
 
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Offline RyanC

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #93 on: May 20, 2014, 07:36:26 pm »
Ahh no. The Su-25 flew from the start with a laser rangefinder, target designator. The A-10 attack system was all gunsight and pilot head until recently.

They've had an integral laser receiver from the start; meaning all sorts of people can designate targets for an A-10 to kill with LGBs. Maverick has also been part of the A-10's loadout from the beginning (first E/O; then IIR); so there was a limited smart strike capability.

What's interesting is that one of the reasons the A-10B was killed was because the USAF planned on giving the A-10 community 100~ LANTIRN pods in the mid 1980s as they viewed the one-man LANTIRN as more desirable than the two-man A-10B N/AW. In the end, the A-10 force never got LANTIRN.


EDIT: Actually, it took until about Operation Enduring Freedom for the A-10 fleet to begin getting LANTIRN.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 10:00:43 pm by RyanCrierie »

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #94 on: May 20, 2014, 07:50:53 pm »
 
They've had an integral laser receiver from the start; meaning all sorts of people can designate targets for an A-10 to kill with LGBs. Maverick has also been part of the A-10's loadout from the beginning (first E/O; then IIR); so there was a limited smart strike capability.

Pave Penny just tells you where someone else is pointing a laser. It can’t be used to provide a target solution to a bombing computer or to designate a weapon.
 
Maverick has also been part of the A-10's loadout from the beginning (first E/O; then IIR); so there was a limited smart strike capability.

Maverick requires a lot more effort from the pilot to find and select the target than a laser guided weapon. You can only use the HUD sight for a rough point and then need to check the video camera feed to make sure you’ve actually got the target selected. The SAL weapon system used on the Su-25 enable the pilot to put the sight into the target and then fire the weapon. He has to keep it there for the time of flight but the AS-10 is 50% faster than the Maverick to compensate for this problem. Still easier target acquisition is better than slightly harder target guiding.
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Offline RyanC

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #95 on: May 20, 2014, 08:10:13 pm »
Pave Penny just tells you where someone else is pointing a laser. It can’t be used to provide a target solution to a bombing computer or to designate a weapon.

AFAIK on the A-10; PP locational data is integrated into the HUD via bounding box draw -- so you can use it to bomb/strafe someone via on board weapons as long as the lasee is lasing it for you.

Regarding self-lasing; I think the Su-25 gained the same targeting capability as the MiG-23M because there wasn't as much doctrinal opposition within the VVS to a dedicated ground attack aircraft as there was in the USAF; and with much less opposition, it was easier to slightly blur the lines to also include light precision strike in the Su-25's repertoire -- it makes me wonder how long the Sturmoviki cadre lasted in the VVS post-war and to what positions they rose within the Soviet defense hierarchy.

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #96 on: May 20, 2014, 08:16:46 pm »
Ah, I've been quietly stewing on this all day. A 40mm Bofors derivative could get a fair degree of accuracy out to 6km. If it could be elevated it could fire beyond the range of even modern SHORAD.

Dispersion at these ranges is going to be so high (your 80% circle is going to have a diameter of 150m at 6km for a 2mrad weapon) that you’re not going to directly hit anything (which you need to get an AP round into a vehicle). But the advantage of the bigger, more accurate guns is you need less rounds to guarantee a hit against a typical AFV at typical combat ranges.

Are you suggesting A-10s shoot at targets at 6,000 metres range with their guns?  That would be extraordinary shooting indeed to hit anything, including an AFV at that range.

Quote
Narrowing it down a bit if you were in 1969 going to replace the GAU-8 development with a dedicated anti-tank weapon development I would think a lightweight 35x228mm gun (like the ARES Talon or Bushmaster III) would be a good development. It would fit roughly into the weight and volume of the GAU-8 gun and magazine and enable two magazines of around 250-300 rounds each (different ammunition natures with twin feeds enabling round selectable bursts).
 
Firing a two second burst 18 rounds from 550 rpm) would put 14 into a 3m diameter circle at 1,200m range (2 mrad 35mm gun). Firing APDS ammunition that would perforate over 120mm of RHA at this range would be extremely lethal. And thanks to the twin feed you can select the other magazine and shoot 100% HEI at soft targets. And have enough ammo for 16 two second bursts of each type (APDS & HEI).
 
You’re not going to have as good a supressing fire front gun to keep the trigger down while you swoop in to drop napalm and anti pers bombs against the VC but you would have a much better gun for rolling in on tanks from low altitude attacks.

Didn't the USAF at one stage trial the French DEFA cannon as an alternative to the GAU-8 and found it more accurate?  I seem to remember reading that somewhere in an old magazine several years ago.

Offline RyanC

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #97 on: May 20, 2014, 08:17:08 pm »
Relevant to this discussion:

http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA018749

1975 US Army evaluation of autocannon concepts from 20mm to 40mm for attack helicopters.

Concepts studied were:

M39/M24 clone: 20mm, 750 RPM, 3300 fps
0.56 lb round; 1540 grain projectile
5.41 to 5.31 mil deviation

XM230 clone: 30mm, 600 rpm, 2200 fps
0.67 lb round; 3031 grain projectile
5.25 to 5.19 mil deviation

Advanced Automatic Cannon I: 30mm, 450 rpm, 4000 fps
1.33 lb round; 5180 grain projectile
5 to 2 mil deviation

Advanced Automatic Cannon II: 40mm, 450 rpm, 2950 fps
2.2 lb round; 7210 grain projectile
5.21 to 5.14 mil deviation


EDIT: Also Revelant:

http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA140367

Historical Development Summary of Automatic Cannon Caliber Ammunition: 20-30 Millimeter

Has a great thing on hardcopy page 7 regarding 25mm ammo:


"This author soon reached the conclusion that the requirement [for Vehicle Rapid Fire Weapon System (VRFWS)] was written specifically and solely so that the HS820 could not satisfy it. By making that assertion he almost started a fight at a joint service meeting at Rock Island some years ago, but the Army could not give a better explanation then nor have they yet."


EDIT II:

hardcopy page 24 is when they talk about GAU-8 30mm:


"Also, the simple "optimization" expedient of selecting the smallest round that would defeat the hardest target had been used."
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 08:29:08 pm by RyanCrierie »

Offline sferrin

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #98 on: May 20, 2014, 08:27:49 pm »
If we were doing "big gun on aircraft" again; extremely large caliber weapons would be feasible, thanks to much better computer assisted targeting (like that on Eurofighter).

Is that system anything like the USAF tested?

(Starting at 6:12)

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Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #99 on: May 20, 2014, 08:28:48 pm »
Are you suggesting A-10s shoot at targets at 6,000 metres range with their guns?  That would be extraordinary shooting indeed to hit anything, including an AFV at that range.

He was referring to using a 40mm gun at 6km range. The GAU-8 at 6km would have an 80% circle with a diameter of 240m. With a 100 round burst that would leave around 20m between each shell hit (with an even dispersion).
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Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #100 on: May 20, 2014, 08:33:21 pm »
AFAIK on the A-10; PP locational data is integrated into the HUD via bounding box draw -- so you can use it to bomb/strafe someone via on board weapons as long as the lasee is lasing it for you.

Pave Penny just provides target indication via the HUD. It doesn’t provide any information into a bombing computer. The laser on the Su-25 like the lasers (or radars) on many other aircraft provide ranging data as well as target indication enabling the pilot and bombing computer to quickly and accurately release the bombs. The pilot of an A-10 just has the HUD working as a gunsight to release the bombs requiring a lot more time and effort to drop them with far less accuracy.
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Offline Avimimus

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #101 on: May 20, 2014, 08:51:09 pm »
That said, it is worth adding the clarification - the improved sensors appear in the later anti-tank versions (and night-time anti-tank versions). The original Su-25 just had the Mk.1 eyeball and a bunch of dials/lights.

Nope they came with the laser rangefinder bombing system and laser target designator (AS-10, AS-14 missiles) from the start. These are important capability differences compared to the A-10 enabling bombing in a much more survivable profile and of course the guided missile capability with far quicker target acquisition than the add on Maverick. It’s that little window in the bottom part of the nose of the Su-25 makes for all the difference.

Very true. I'd been thinking about acquisition sensors as opposed to rangers and designators when I wrote that.

I should also say that I'd always assumed the bombsight for the A-10a had a laser ranger, rather than just a ballisitic computer. So, I'm clearly a bit clueless sometimes. Thanks for the insight.

Offline Avimimus

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #102 on: May 20, 2014, 09:14:44 pm »
1975 US Army evaluation of autocannon concepts from 20mm to 40mm for attack helicopters.

This - and the plans for a 45mm smoothbore in the Su-25 are what got me thinking larger calibers. Still, for the employment I was considering, the 30mm advanced autocannon I is superior.

Ah, I've been quietly stewing on this all day. A 40mm Bofors derivative could get a fair degree of accuracy out to 6km. If it could be elevated it could fire beyond the range of even modern SHORAD.

Dispersion at these ranges is going to be so high (your 80% circle is going to have a diameter of 150m at 6km for a 2mrad weapon) that you’re not going to directly hit anything (which you need to get an AP round into a vehicle). But the advantage of the bigger, more accurate guns is you need less rounds to guarantee a hit against a typical AFV at typical combat ranges.

If those dispersion figures can't be improved (and they seem fairly optimistic) - it works out to about 900 rounds expended for a direct hit on a BMP-1 and 700 to hit a T-72. So, three minutes of firing and close to a ton of ammunition! Not practical, although the 35mm caliber might do a little better.

Of course, guided rounds now exist which could compensate. But, then again, 8km air-defense missiles also exist now. The penetrating power of a corrected round is a bit uncertain in any case. At such ranges the ability to design an effective guidance system which can fit into a bullet is also a problem. Still I wonder how effective it could be with guided rounds fired at a 45 degree upward angle (12 km range)?

Offline RyanC

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #103 on: May 20, 2014, 09:56:39 pm »
The pilot of an A-10 just has the HUD working as a gunsight to release the bombs requiring a lot more time and effort to drop them with far less accuracy.


A-10A has CCIP, so it's not all by pure eyeball -- supposedly the radar altimeter is used to get the data required for the bombsight -- but not as good as a dedicated A/G radar like A-7D feeding information to the system, which makes sense; as one of the major drivers of A/X was to be equal or lower-cost than A-7D.


Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #104 on: May 20, 2014, 10:13:38 pm »
A-10A has CCIP, so it's not all by pure eyeball -- supposedly the radar altimeter is used to get the data required for the bombsight -- but not as good as a dedicated A/G radar like A-7D feeding information to the system, which makes sense; as one of the major drivers of A/X was to be equal or lower-cost than A-7D.


Well that makes a lot of sense. Thought it was a bit stupid to build a plane without CCIP so it can't do a pop up bomb run. But without a measuring device to provide range to the target accuracy is going to be poor.
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Offline RyanC

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #105 on: May 20, 2014, 10:15:13 pm »
Out of curiosity; how do you calculate dispersion from given data like "Dispersion 5 milliradians diameter, 80 percent circle", for a given range, Abraham?

I've tried googling for the formulas; but can't easily find them.  :'(

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #106 on: May 20, 2014, 10:53:24 pm »
The 80 percent circle is the measure. A circle in which 80 percent of rounds will land.
 
A circle with a radius of 1,000m has a circumference that can be measured in milliradians (mrad) which is precisely 2 x pi x 1,000 (or 6283.185 mrad in a circle). But it is easily converted to an approximation with angular mils of 6,400 per circle. This is a very common measure used in the military in place of circular degrees to calculate angles because it enables you to easily calculate the deviation over range. As an angular deviation of 1 mrad over 1,000m equates to a point 1m away from the boresight.
 
So a 5 mrad deviation 1.2 km away (GAU-8 dispersion in mrad at combat range) is 6m. Apply this to a cricle 1.2 km away and it has a radius of 6m, or diameter of 12m.
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Offline RyanC

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #107 on: May 21, 2014, 09:43:39 am »
I believe the current state of the art for A/A gun guidance systems is the Eurofighter's 27mm BK installation.

AFAIK, the pilot 'locks on' to the enemy aircraft with the radar -- the system then begins tracking everything -- doppler radar input on enemy aircraft motions; and probably own aircraft motions from the INS/GPS system; and you merely have to move the aircraft into a position where the system sees a valid gun trajectory that intersects the target (e.g. pipper onto target); and the gun fires automatically in a restricted burst with no human interaction required.

I wonder what the equivalent system for a ground attack aircraft would be.

You'd need some sort of wide area rapid scan IR system that can scan a sector in front of the aircraft's nose several times a second to identify possible ground attack targets -- one of the early requirements for LITENING was for it to automatically classify and sort targets by type: (Truck, Wheeled APC, Tank); but that was deleted. We can probably do that now with much better computing power.

Then some way of painting all possible tank threats found by this wide area scanner onto the pilot's HUD as bounding boxes for situational awareness; along with a close up EO/IR system slaved to a laser range finder that's slewed on target by the rapid scan IR system to feed detailed targeting information to the ballistics computer for the gun run.

Offline sferrin

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #108 on: May 21, 2014, 10:15:57 am »
I believe the current state of the art for A/A gun guidance systems is the Eurofighter's 27mm BK installation.

AFAIK, the pilot 'locks on' to the enemy aircraft with the radar -- the system then begins tracking everything -- doppler radar input on enemy aircraft motions; and probably own aircraft motions from the INS/GPS system; and you merely have to move the aircraft into a position where the system sees a valid gun trajectory that intersects the target (e.g. pipper onto target); and the gun fires automatically in a restricted burst with no human interaction required.

This is essentially the system they tested in the F-15 back in the 80's in the video I posted on the previous page.  There was a guy on F-16.net who happened to be an engineer involved.  According to him, even though the results were excellent the pilots were skeptical of giving up control of the aircraft at a crucial moment.
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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #109 on: May 21, 2014, 10:40:11 am »
Don't modern Russian aircraft use a similar system as well? IIRC, I read a report about the MiG-29 that stated it had the same kind of sytem.

Offline Jeb

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #110 on: May 21, 2014, 11:31:21 am »
Source:
http://intercepts.defensenews.com/2014/04/dr-evil-weighs-in-on-usaf-a-10-debate/


I saw this graphic before and I think whoever created it has *ahem* misrepresented the debate. The F-15C was never tasked as multirole. It's always been pure air superiority. The F-15E is entirely multirole and not only that, it can fly all of those A-10 missions and more.

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #111 on: May 21, 2014, 11:40:13 am »
Source:
http://intercepts.defensenews.com/2014/04/dr-evil-weighs-in-on-usaf-a-10-debate/


I saw this graphic before and I think whoever created it has *ahem* misrepresented the debate. The F-15C was never tasked as multirole. It's always been pure air superiority. The F-15E is entirely multirole and not only that, it can fly all of those A-10 missions and more.

I added the cartoon for discussion purposes. I understand from the Defense News article that the cartoon has been circulating throughout the defense community.

Offline Avimimus

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #112 on: May 21, 2014, 02:15:36 pm »
 
I believe the current state of the art for A/A gun guidance systems is the Eurofighter's 27mm BK installation.

AFAIK, the pilot 'locks on' to the enemy aircraft with the radar -- the system then begins tracking everything -- doppler radar input on enemy aircraft motions; and probably own aircraft motions from the INS/GPS system; and you merely have to move the aircraft into a position where the system sees a valid gun trajectory that intersects the target (e.g. pipper onto target); and the gun fires automatically in a restricted burst with no human interaction required.

This is essentially the system they tested in the F-15 back in the 80's in the video I posted on the previous page.  There was a guy on F-16.net who happened to be an engineer involved.  According to him, even though the results were excellent the pilots were skeptical of giving up control of the aircraft at a crucial moment.


Don't modern Russian aircraft use a similar system as well? IIRC, I read a report about the MiG-29 that stated it had the same kind of sytem.


The Russian gunsights can use radar or EO/IR & laser range-finding. I remember reading a quote to the effect that the gun designers would've only given the GSh-301 a 75 round magazine if they knew it would be that effective.

However, I haven't heard of any Russian aircraft using an automatic firing system (as used by the Eurofighter - I recall that the EF once shot down a target while on autopilot - but that could be just a rumour).

I wonder what the equivalent system for a ground attack aircraft would be.

I like your fancy system (as it could enhance situational awareness).

A simpler approach is already in service of course. Most Russian ground attack aircraft can use EO sensors to identify and acquire a target. A laser range finder is applied to it and feeds into a ballistic computer. Two circles appear on the HUD - one the target, the other the gunsight. The pilot lines up both circles and when one disappears behind the other the pilot fires.

With the SPPU depressible gunpods the system can automatically deflect the guns as the pilot flies overhead.

Offline Avimimus

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #113 on: May 21, 2014, 02:17:41 pm »
By the way - does anyone have a guess about what the minimum dispersion you can get with semi-automatic a 40mm rigid mounted gun is?

I'm curious about the differences between recoil/vibration related dispersion and pure aeroballistic dispersion in a round of that size.

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #114 on: May 21, 2014, 03:40:30 pm »
By the way - does anyone have a guess about what the minimum dispersion you can get with semi-automatic a 40mm rigid mounted gun is?

I'm curious about the differences between recoil/vibration related dispersion and pure aeroballistic dispersion in a round of that size.


Not to stray off topic but watching gun footage from hovering or slowly moving Apaches firing the 30mm chain gun they seem to have a lot of dispersion (as compared to where the reticle is pointing) is this also a product of recoil/vibration round size issues?
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Offline Hot Breath

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #115 on: May 21, 2014, 07:52:23 pm »
By the way - does anyone have a guess about what the minimum dispersion you can get with semi-automatic a 40mm rigid mounted gun is?

I'm curious about the differences between recoil/vibration related dispersion and pure aeroballistic dispersion in a round of that size.


Not to stray off topic but watching gun footage from hovering or slowly moving Apaches firing the 30mm chain gun they seem to have a lot of dispersion (as compared to where the reticle is pointing) is this also a product of recoil/vibration round size issues?

More than likely also a problem with the mounting.  Rotating turrets on aircraft which themselves are subject to a lot of vibration unless gyro-stabilised are going to be inherently less accurate.  Remember, for "every action there is an equal reaction"?  The helicopter is hanging from the shaft of it's rotors, the gun fires, it will exert thrust and the helicopter will tilt, when the pilot attempts to compensate, he'll over-compensate and the gun will be swinging back and forth.

Offline Hot Breath

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #116 on: May 21, 2014, 07:53:17 pm »
Are you suggesting A-10s shoot at targets at 6,000 metres range with their guns?  That would be extraordinary shooting indeed to hit anything, including an AFV at that range.

He was referring to using a 40mm gun at 6km range. The GAU-8 at 6km would have an 80% circle with a diameter of 240m. With a 100 round burst that would leave around 20m between each shell hit (with an even dispersion).

Thank you, that is a lot clearer now.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #117 on: May 21, 2014, 08:52:53 pm »
The M230 gun on the Apache is actually pretty accurate (3 mrad dispersion) for an aerial gun. Its just that you are seeing it shoot on the gun camera footage at a small target (a person) and it fires small bursts (10 rounds per second) from long distances (1-2km typical). That being said the Denel Rooivalk flies with a 20x139mm gun which will outshoot the M230 for accuracy by a long margin.
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Offline quellish

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #118 on: May 22, 2014, 12:57:14 am »

This is essentially the system they tested in the F-15 back in the 80's in the video I posted on the previous page.  There was a guy on F-16.net who happened to be an engineer involved.  According to him, even though the results were excellent the pilots were skeptical of giving up control of the aircraft at a crucial moment.


AFTI Phase 1 included something similar (same program?) tested on the F-15 and later the AFTI/CCV F-16:
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a166724.pdf
"[size=78%]Even with its limited application of control configured[/size]
vehicle technology, the AFTI/F-15 was highly successful in adding to the advanced fighter technology base. By changing the control
laws in its control augmentation system, adding an ATLIS-II electro-optical target tracker pod (78:169), and adding a spec-ial
interface unit to tie the flight and fire control systems together, the AFTI/F-15 achieved a slight control surface
decoupling (96:26; 78:169).
the AFTI/F-15 automatically fine-tuned the fire control cues and deooupled flight control surfaces
(i.e., made them work independently), then limited maneuvers to
plus or minus 1 G during the final seconds of weapons delivery or
gun firing (96:26). This arrangement allowed air-to-air gunnery,
strafing, and bombing from unusual flight profiles (78:170). In August 1982 the AFTI/F-15 completely destroyed with a two second
burst a maneuvering PGM-102 drone in a most difficult gun firing condition (78:169-170; 96:26). (The PQM-102 was flying at 420 Knots, in a 4 G right turn into its attacker, while the AFTI/F-15 was in a 3.3 G right turn at 400 Knots, for a 130 degree aspect attack at 1.7 Kilometers (78:169).) The new integrated fire and flight control system also allowed a spiral strafing run, rather
than the usual straight pass at the target. This promised to give greater survivability against linear-predictor anti-aircraft
artillery (78:170). And in late 1982 the AFTI/F-15 accurately dropped bombs while performing 3.5 G maneuvers from ran5es of 1200
[/size][size=78%]to 5200 meters; it had the same accuracy as a normal F-15 in wings-level approaches (78:170).[/size]"

Offline pathology_doc

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #119 on: May 22, 2014, 06:24:59 am »
According to him, even though the results were excellent the pilots were skeptical of giving up control of the aircraft at a crucial moment.


How does this compare to or differ from the auto-attack systems on aircraft like the F-106, which were in their final form supposed to do almost everything short of managing take off and landing? (Sort of eerie, that - I can imagine F-106's flying around, their pilots already dying of radiation poisoning, what's left of the SAGE system faithfully flying them to an intercept and pulling the trigger for them...  :o  [size=78%])[/size]

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #120 on: May 22, 2014, 06:57:33 am »
Source:
http://intercepts.defensenews.com/2014/04/dr-evil-weighs-in-on-usaf-a-10-debate/


I saw this graphic before and I think whoever created it has *ahem* misrepresented the debate. The F-15C was never tasked as multirole. It's always been pure air superiority. The F-15E is entirely multirole and not only that, it can fly all of those A-10 missions and more.

I added the cartoon for discussion purposes. I understand from the Defense News article that the cartoon has been circulating throughout the defense community.


Yep, it has, and it's leading a lot of uninformed heads to nod and agree with oh, how terrible the USAF is being.

Offline Avimimus

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #121 on: May 22, 2014, 09:08:09 am »

This is essentially the system they tested in the F-15 back in the 80's in the video I posted on the previous page.  There was a guy on F-16.net who happened to be an engineer involved.  According to him, even though the results were excellent the pilots were skeptical of giving up control of the aircraft at a crucial moment.


AFTI Phase 1 included something similar (same program?) tested on the F-15 and later the AFTI/CCV F-16:
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a166724.pdf
"Even with its limited application of control configured vehicle technology, the AFTI/F-15 was highly successful in adding to the advanced fighter technology base. By changing the control laws in its control augmentation system, adding an ATLIS-II electro-optical target tracker pod (78:169), and adding a special interface unit to tie the flight and fire control systems together, the AFTI/F-15 achieved a slight control surface decoupling (96:26; 78:169).

The AFTI/F-15 automatically fine-tuned the fire control cues and decoupled flight control surfaces (i.e., made them work independently), then limited maneuvers to plus or minus 1 G during the final seconds of weapons delivery or gun firing (96:26). This arrangement allowed air-to-air gunnery, strafing, and bombing from unusual flight profiles (78:170). In August 1982 the AFTI/F-15 completely destroyed with a two second burst a maneuvering PGM-102 drone in a most difficult gun firing condition (78:169-170; 96:26). (The PQM-102 was flying at 420 Knots, in a 4 G right turn into its attacker, while the AFTI/F-15 was in a 3.3 G right turn at 400 Knots, for a 130 degree aspect attack at 1.7 Kilometers (78:169).)

The new integrated fire and flight control system also allowed a spiral strafing run, rather than the usual straight pass at the target. This promised to give greater survivability against linear-predictor anti-aircraft artillery (78:170). And in late 1982 the AFTI/F-15 accurately dropped bombs while performing 3.5 G maneuvers from ran5es of 1200 to 5200 meters; it had the same accuracy as a normal F-15 in wings-level approaches (78:170)."

That is actually very impressive.

Offline sferrin

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #122 on: May 22, 2014, 09:08:40 am »
According to him, even though the results were excellent the pilots were skeptical of giving up control of the aircraft at a crucial moment.


How does this compare to or differ from the auto-attack systems on aircraft like the F-106, which were in their final form supposed to do almost everything short of managing take off and landing? (Sort of eerie, that - I can imagine F-106's flying around, their pilots already dying of radiation poisoning, what's left of the SAGE system faithfully flying them to an intercept and pulling the trigger for them...  :o  [size=78%])[/size]

Different times. 
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Offline jsport

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #123 on: May 22, 2014, 09:35:22 am »
"The new integrated fire and flight control system also allowed a spiral strafing run, rather than the usual straight pass at the target."
as they say in some valley in Cali..OMG

thank you for sharing quellish. :o

Offline jsport

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #124 on: May 22, 2014, 09:57:35 am »

This is essentially the system they tested in the F-15 back in the 80's in the video I posted on the previous page.  There was a guy on F-16.net who happened to be an engineer involved.  According to him, even though the results were excellent the pilots were skeptical of giving up control of the aircraft at a crucial moment.


AFTI Phase 1 included something similar (same program?) tested on the F-15 and later the AFTI/CCV F-16:
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a166724.pdf
"[size=78%]Even with its limited application of control configured[/size]
vehicle technology, the AFTI/F-15 was highly successful in adding to the advanced fighter technology base. By changing the control
laws in its control augmentation system, adding an ATLIS-II electro-optical target tracker pod (78:169), and adding a spec-ial
interface unit to tie the flight and fire control systems together, the AFTI/F-15 achieved a slight control surface
decoupling (96:26; 78:169).
the AFTI/F-15 automatically fine-tuned the fire control cues and deooupled flight control surfaces
(i.e., made them work independently), then limited maneuvers to
plus or minus 1 G during the final seconds of weapons delivery or
gun firing (96:26). This arrangement allowed air-to-air gunnery,
strafing, and bombing from unusual flight profiles (78:170). In August 1982 the AFTI/F-15 completely destroyed with a two second
burst a maneuvering PGM-102 drone in a most difficult gun firing condition (78:169-170; 96:26). (The PQM-102 was flying at 420 Knots, in a 4 G right turn into its attacker, while the AFTI/F-15 was in a 3.3 G right turn at 400 Knots, for a 130 degree aspect attack at 1.7 Kilometers (78:169).) The new integrated fire and flight control system also allowed a spiral strafing run, rather
than the usual straight pass at the target. This promised to give greater survivability against linear-predictor anti-aircraft
artillery (78:170). And in late 1982 the AFTI/F-15 accurately dropped bombs while performing 3.5 G maneuvers from ran5es of 1200
[/size][size=78%]to 5200 meters; it had the same accuracy as a normal F-15 in wings-level approaches (78:170).[/size]"
also
"With CCV technology the center of gravity of the airframe could be varied in flight to cause the nose to pitch up or down without changing flight path (153:302). The addition of direct side force and direct lift, all under control of the fly-by-wire computers, allowed the fighter to make unbanked turns, move straight up, down, or sideways, or slew through the air with its nose pointing in any direction without changing
flight path (153:302). All of these nonclassical flying modes made possible more lethal attacks (by Keeping the gunsight on the
target longer) and more survivable, unpredictable flight in combat
(153:302). "

"The AFTI/F-16 also employed a number of innovative man-machine interface technologies to ease pilot worKload in its wildlymaneuverable weapons delivery and gun firing environment. It first used two (25:22) and late', three, multipurpose cockpit displays (149:688) for finger-tip selection and display of flight and weapon information of the pilot's own choosing. The AFTI/F-16 had voice controlled weapons designation, arming, and firing
(2:88; 122:4; 25:23; 3:107; 41:40; 135:99-100; 149:688; 91:22-23).
This feature significantly reduced the pilot's difficulty in putting ordnance on target while operating in a high G, high
threat environment. And with its helmet mounted sight (149:689; 122:4; 2:88; 41:40) integrated into the fire and flight control system, the AFTI/F-16 gave its pilot an "evil eye" as lethal as his voice."
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 10:09:15 am by jsport »

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #125 on: May 22, 2014, 10:48:38 am »
There seems to be some confusion here.  The gun system that shot down the F-102 was in an F-15, as shown in the video.  Did they put the same system (or variant of it) in the AFTI F-16 as well? 
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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #126 on: May 22, 2014, 12:23:08 pm »
There seems to be some confusion here.  The gun system that shot down the F-102 was in an F-15, as shown in the video.  Did they put the same system (or variant of it) in the AFTI F-16 as well?


The AFTI F-15 had limited external modifications and was used for bombing and gunnery tests.
The AFTI F-16 was previously the CCV testbed and had more extensive external and internal modifications (it had the CCV canards). Because of this it was capable of more extreme maneuvers. The AFTI F-16 was also used for gunnery and bombing tests.
Different systems, different implementations, same larger program.








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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #127 on: May 22, 2014, 01:19:57 pm »
OK - forgive the ignorance, but if that AFTI made the aircraft better able to deliver weapons with precision, why on Gods green Earth has it not been implemented in any F-16s?
 
Those videos are what, 30+ years old and yet this is sitting on a shelf some where gathering dust? what a terrible shame.
 
 
 
 

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #128 on: May 22, 2014, 03:06:00 pm »
Money
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Offline sferrin

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #129 on: May 22, 2014, 03:10:51 pm »
There seems to be some confusion here.  The gun system that shot down the F-102 was in an F-15, as shown in the video.  Did they put the same system (or variant of it) in the AFTI F-16 as well?


The AFTI F-15 had limited external modifications and was used for bombing and gunnery tests.
The AFTI F-16 was previously the CCV testbed and had more extensive external and internal modifications (it had the CCV canards). Because of this it was capable of more extreme maneuvers. The AFTI F-16 was also used for gunnery and bombing tests.
Different systems, different implementations, same larger program.



Yeah, I knew about the F-16CCV -> AFTI F-16.  Just had never heard of an AFTI F-15. 
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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #130 on: May 22, 2014, 06:49:12 pm »
"With CCV technology the center of gravity of the airframe could be varied in flight to cause the nose to pitch up or down without changing flight path (153:302). "

I would like more information on this feature. Did they do it by tying the FCS into the fuel transfer system to shift fuel forward and aft automatically within the airframe or did they have actuated ballast in the airframe? Although, I don't know where you would have room internally to move ballast. I wonder if the author actually meant the center of lift and not the center of gravity?

Offline AeroFranz

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #131 on: May 23, 2014, 05:38:14 am »
"With CCV technology the center of gravity of the airframe could be varied in flight to cause the nose to pitch up or down without changing flight path (153:302). "

I would like more information on this feature. Did they do it by tying the FCS into the fuel transfer system to shift fuel forward and aft automatically within the airframe or did they have actuated ballast in the airframe? Although, I don't know where you would have room internally to move ballast. I wonder if the author actually meant the center of lift and not the center of gravity?


Yeah, just as puzzled. I don't see practical solutions for shifting c.g., fuel transfer being possible but slow and introducing new failure modes (for example getting stuck with full aft cg when coming in to land). OTOH, if you have destabilizing surfaces you can move your NP around quite a bit...
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Offline jsport

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #132 on: May 24, 2014, 06:42:47 am »
http://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/F-16/interesting-aircraft/

Low-level Battlefield Interdiction Tests

In the late eighties, the Advanced Fighter Technology Integration (AFTI) F-16 testbed (formerly the 6th FDS aircraft) was fitted with a dorsal spine, wing-root mounted Lantirn-style pods, and FLIR turrets on the nose. It was also upgraded with an F-16C block 25 wing and with block 40 F-16C features such as APG-68 radar and a LANTIRN interface. It was used as a CAS testbed in support of the proposed A-16, testing low-level battlefield interdiction techniques such as automatic target handoff-systems. This program lasted untill January of 1992.

Offline Triton

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #133 on: May 26, 2014, 11:56:56 am »
Quote
A-16 Close Air Support

The Block 60 did not go into production and the A-16 became wrapped up in the debate about close air support. The supporters of the A-16 project wanted the USAF to replace its A-10A Thunderbolt IIs with A-16's, arguing that the A-10 was too slow to survive above a high-tech battlefield. Detractors argued that the A-16 had insufficient range and load-carrying capability to make an effective attack aircraft, and, in addition, it would be too vulnerable to enemy anti-aircraft fire.

The Army argued that the Key West agreement of 1948 (under which they were prohibited from operating fixed-wing combat aircraft) was now obsolete, and that the USAF's A-10's should be turned over to them for use alongside AH-64 Apache helicopters. In 1990, Congress decreed that some USAF A-10A's and OV-10 Broncos be turned over to the Army and Marine Corps beginning in 1991.

However, all of these plans came to naught on November 26th, 1990, when the USAF was ordered to retain two wings of A-10 aircraft for the CAS mission. No order for the A-16 was ever placed.

Source:
http://www.f-16.net/f-16_versions_article18.html

If A-16 or F/A-16 was the answer in the early 1990s and the A-10 was obsolete, I don't understand why the Army and the Marines wanted the A-10 and OV-10.

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #134 on: May 26, 2014, 11:59:36 am »

 I don't understand why the Army and the Marines wanted the A-10 and OV-10.

Err…where does it say that the USMC wanted A-10s/OV-10s?   It states that "In 1990, Congress decreed that some USAF A-10A's and OV-10 Broncos be turned over to the Army and Marine Corps beginning in 1991."

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #135 on: May 26, 2014, 12:48:21 pm »

 I don't understand why the Army and the Marines wanted the A-10 and OV-10.

Err…where does it say that the USMC wanted A-10s/OV-10s?   It states that "In 1990, Congress decreed that some USAF A-10A's and OV-10 Broncos be turned over to the Army and Marine Corps beginning in 1991."
[/quote

Talked to a Colonel of an F-16 reserve unit who also had instructed in the A-10 and OV-10. Said the OV-10 was his favorite, and that the A-10 was awesome except it needed more powerful engines.

Its not just congress, some of the fighter jocks really liked them as well.
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Offline Colonial-Marine

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #136 on: January 08, 2015, 05:58:20 pm »
According to the A-16 information at F-16.net the 30mm gun would heat up and singe the inner components of the left fuselage. So the 30mm cannon planned for the A-16 was internally mounted in the wing-root like the normal 20mm M61A1? Was it the same GAU-13/A used in the GPU-5/A gun pod by the "F/A-16"?

A bit off-topic but the GPU-5/A was tested on a number of other aircraft including the A-7 in which it was carried on wing store stations versus under the fuselage. I presume one was carried under each wing but I can't find anything to confirm that. Does anybody have any images or information about this? Was the GPU-5/A envisioned as an important weapon for the A-7F? I presume the aircraft would have been a somewhat sturdier gun platform than the F-16.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 06:11:08 pm by Colonial-Marine »
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Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #137 on: January 08, 2015, 06:27:54 pm »
According to the A-16 information at F-16.net the 30mm gun would heat up and singe the inner components of the left fuselage. So the 30mm cannon planned for the A-16 was internally mounted in the wing-root like the normal 20mm M61A1? Was it the same GAU-13/A used in the GPU-5/A gun pod by the "F/A-16"?

The GAU-12 25mm gatling was designed to fit the footprint of the M61 20mm gatling but firing a high velocity projectile. Even the smaller GAU-13 30mm would be too long to fit into the internal footprint of the M61 on the F-16.

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,11.msg145841.html#msg145841A bit off-topic but the GPU-5/A was tested on a number of other aircraft including the A-7 in which it was carried on wing store stations versus under the fuselage. I presume one was carried under each wing but I can't find anything to confirm that. Does anybody have any images or information about this? Was the GPU-5/A envisioned as an important weapon for the A-7F? I presume the aircraft would have been a somewhat sturdier gun platform than the F-16.



See here:



http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,11.msg145841.html#msg145841
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Offline pathology_doc

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #138 on: January 12, 2015, 05:18:26 am »
IIRC the key attributes of a CAS aircraft are the ability to loiter, combat persistence (plenty of hardpoints, lots of ordnance and oodles of cannon ammo), and the ability to shrug off hits from hand-held small-arms, at least from the systems-integrity POV. A single-engined airplane optimised for dogfighting, with a thin low-aspect-ratio wing and a section optimised towards the high subsonic end of the speed spectrum, seems a rather poor choice in that regard, whatever its merits as a delivery system for accurate and devastating single-pass strikes. In a shooting war with Iran, China or North Korea, sure. As a general go-anywhere, do-anything CAS tool, possibly not. (Which is not to say you can't have a helmet-mounted sight and two or four ASRAAM-type fire-and-forget missiles plus the appropriate training to deal with careless enemy fighters or battlefield helicopters, but the last thing you want is your CAS pilot reverting to dogfight mode and leaving the troops in the lurch. That's what air superiority is for, and without air superiority, the US forces are philosophically meaningless.)

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Re: F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.
« Reply #139 on: March 09, 2019, 04:23:46 pm »
Did we ever identify which 30mm cannon was proposed to be fitted internally?