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Author Topic: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?  (Read 106546 times)


Offline sferrin

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2013, 11:24:08 am »
If one can only have either a specialist or a generalist the specialist goes.
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Offline TaiidanTomcat

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2013, 11:51:37 am »
"Tough choices" means having to make tough choices. I know a lot of mouth breathers are going to huff and puff and blame the USAF's top 3 priorities for this, but the reality is sequestration means choosing between nice to have and need to have, and the A-10 falls into nice to have. We get more money they can be saved, but if sequestration is here to stay, the A-10 goes.
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Offline Vahe Demirjian

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2013, 12:27:36 pm »
"Tough choices" means having to make tough choices. I know a lot of mouth breathers are going to huff and puff and blame the USAF's top 3 priorities for this, but the reality is sequestration means choosing between nice to have and need to have, and the A-10 falls into nice to have. We get more money they can be saved, but if sequestration is here to stay, the A-10 goes.

No one should be surprised that the A-10 will be one of the two warplanes to be replaced by the F-35A, but if sequestration continues, the question is how many A-10s will be retired. A handful of A-10s that may to too expensive to be maintained could be retired.

Offline F-14D

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2013, 12:37:54 pm »
Of course, this is only what they've been trying to do for over 25 years.

Offline cluttonfred

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2013, 02:41:08 pm »
Reports of the A-10's demise have been greatly exaggerated before.
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Offline beachhead1973

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2013, 02:48:18 pm »
Next mind that specialized ground support has been the majority of the Air Force mission for quite some time now.

I think the truth is simpler, and ahem; call me a mouth breather if you want; it's what comes from humping rucks up hills, I guess. The USAF has a particular self-narrative and the A-10 does not and has never fit it.

As for specialization; I have heard it said it is for insects. Insects have done pretty well in my opinion and most generalists fail to excel at any one role.

Offline TaiidanTomcat

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2013, 03:59:33 pm »

Quote
Next mind that specialized ground support has been the majority of the Air Force mission for quite some time now.

indeed, and look at all the aircraft that have been capable of doing it, while doing other missions as well.

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I think the truth is simpler, and ahem; call me a mouth breather if you want; it's what comes from humping rucks up hills, I guess. The USAF has a particular self-narrative and the A-10 does not and has never fit it.

I disagree. CAS and the JTAC doctrine has basically ensured that whether you are calling in support from a A-10, an F-18E, or an AV-8B the same doctrine and tactics are used. So simply put, all the other aircraft got good at CAS, (and this has been proven over the last twelve years and even B-52s and BONEs have provided CAS --short of strafing of course) and the A-10 never got much better at doing what those aircraft could. CAS now is "plug in and go" essentially A-10s are being treated just like an F-16 in CAS.

It would help the specialist if there was nothing else that could play his role, but A-10s have become interchangable, and frankly we don't use A-10s like A-10s anymore anyway. What happens when a specialist is no longer special? 

Quote
most generalists fail to excel at any one role.

That is the idea.  ;)
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Offline yasotay

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2013, 04:58:44 pm »
"Jack of all trades, master of none."  USAF Inc. at its finest.
Although I will acknowledge that with a tight budget the USAF Inc. has to look to its core (priority missions).
I do not agree with Taiidan Tomcat, but hope that he is right about the technology.  Lets just hope the enemy never comes up with things like GPS jammers and laser spoffers....

Offline sferrin

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2013, 05:51:12 pm »
Insects have done pretty well in my opinion and most generalists fail to excel at any one role.

That's why they're called generalists.  (And insects are a poor analogy.)  Tell me, when you've kept your A-10 and ditched your generalist are you going to fly those Warthogs out the intercept Bears?   ;D
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Offline bobbymike

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2013, 06:03:01 pm »
Insects have done pretty well in my opinion and most generalists fail to excel at any one role.

That's why they're called generalists.  (And insects are a poor analogy.)  Tell me, when you've kept your A-10 and ditched your generalist are you going to fly those Warthogs out the intercept Bears?   ;D

Agree with sferrin plus the advent of precision strike means low and slow isn't really needed anymore. A JTAC just won the Silver Star for calling in air strikes in A-Stan from five different platforms, I think the list was B-1, F-18, F-15, F-16 and A-10 in a 12 hour firefight. Body count 300 dead Talibs, 0 allied dead.
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Offline ksimmelink

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2013, 06:08:06 pm »
Having worked on the A-10 in the early years, I regret that this day finally may be here.   The Air Force never liked it, especially when its main role - ripping up as many Russian tanks and apcs as possible as they poured through the Fulda gap in Germany - died along with the Soviet Union and East Germany.  But it was simple, rugged, easy and cheap to maintain, and effective, and cannot be replaced by a fast mover as was proved over and over again in the Gulf conflicts.  I can only hope we don't live to regret this decision, but I do understand the financial realities (even though the A-10 is cheaper to fly and maintain than the other aircraft in the inventory), it just can't do enough to warrant its daily JP-4. 
I think that the advent of UAVs really had a lot to do with this decision.
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Offline TaiidanTomcat

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2013, 07:10:47 pm »

Lets just hope the enemy never comes up with things like GPS jammers and laser spoffers....

Its really more than that. A-10s were limited in libya when rumors of Sa-18s surfaced. That saw restrictions on A-10s, AV-8s and AC-130s. (speaking of which the AC-130 is great, and has commonality with C-130 fleets, so there will be gunships still around) One has to ask what happens when troops in contact call for help behind a SAM Belt, or with Air Threats around, and the proliferation of shoulder fired missiles. Causing the A-10 to battle for its own survival means its too busy to help the grunts in the first place, and its relying on those generalists that can kill enemy planes, radars, etc. One could make the case that fighting an enemy with GPS and Laser Spoofers in the first place would indicate a level of tech that would see the A-10 in trouble anyway. In IADs it would need serious help.

The objective is to help the grunts on the ground, if the A-10 is barred from doing that through orders or through enemy action then thats a serious issue. I know it can take damage but damage means turning back and Aircraft damaged in fast moving conflicts don't usually return to the fight and a few A-10s that have been damaged were never put back into service post war. So on the bright note, the pilot gets back at least but its an attrition kill.  I know an F-22, an F-35, B-2, and the LRS-B won't ever be A-10s, but they will be able to go places A-10s can't and without having to coordinate multiple aircraft types in a strike. Even F-18E/Fs and F-15Es will have more advantages. The ability to "self escort" is huge.
 
Its great for LIC, but of course with LIC you don't need a 30MM super armored warplane to take on IEDs and RPGs. Its been kept around for the conflicts we are fighting for the same reason as the B-52, its original role gone, its found a new niche that would cost more to develop something else. Its "useful because its around, not around because its useful"

Ksimmelink is right about it being on borrowed time post Cold War. Remember the A-10 was going to be fighting on the central front in WWIII, heavy casualties were expected and low level required to be under the SAM belts. When the A-10s went toe to toe with the Republican Guard in Iraq, they lost 2 aircraft 1 pilot killed the other captured, And from there on A-10s were removed and F-16s used for deep battle, remember this is the mission they were designed to do and Horner, and Glosson pulled them back, along with the Squadron Commander requesting targets in Kuwait. Why take casualties when you have other options?:

A-10s vs. F-16s

Q: Did the war have any effect on the Air Force's view of the A-10?

A: No. People misread that. People were saying that airplanes are too sophisticated and that they wouldn't work in the desert, that you didn't need all this high technology, that simple and reliable was better, and all that.

Well, first of all, complex does not mean unreliable. We're finding that out. For example, you have a watch that uses transistors rather than a spring. It's infinitely more reliable than the windup watch that you had years ago. That's what we're finding in the airplanes.

Those people . . . were always championing the A-10. As the A-10 reaches the end of its life cycle-- and it's approaching that now--it's time to replace it, just like we replace every airplane, including, right now, some early versions of the F-16.

Since the line was discontinued, [the A-10's champions] want to build another A-10 of some kind. The point we were making was that we have F-16s that do the same job.

Then you come to people who have their own reasons-good reasons to them, but they don't necessarily compute to me-who want to hang onto the A-10 because of the gun. Well, the gun's an excellent weapon, but you'll find that most of the tank kills by the A-10 were done with Mavericks and bombs. So the idea that the gun is the absolute wonder of the world is not true.

Q: This conflict has shown that?

A: It shows that the gun has a lot of utility, which we always knew, but it isn't the principal tank-killer on the A-IO. The [Imaging Infrared] Maverick is the big hero there. That was used by the A-10s and the F-16s very, very effectively in places like Khafji.

The other problem is that the A-10 is vulnerable to hits because its speed is limited. It's a function of thrust, it's not a function of anything else. We had a lot of A-10s take a lot of ground fire hits. Quite frankly, we pulled the A-10s back from going up around the Republican Guard and kept them on Iraq's [less formidable] front-line units. That's line if you have a force that allows you to do that. In this case, we had F-16s to go after the Republican Guard.

Q: At what point did you do that?

A: I think I had fourteen airplanes sitting on the ramp having battle damage repaired, and I lost two A- 10s in one day [February 15], and I said, "I've had enough of this." It was when we really started to go after the Republican Guard.

http://www.airforcemag.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/1991/June%201991/0691horner.aspx

We can't keep this thing around for a gun that is only used as a last resort as it is.
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Offline sublight is back

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2013, 08:54:19 pm »
You know I love, love, love, the Warthog but since the Marines and the Army are ramping up their orders for these precision hand launched kamikaze munitions, then maybe we don't need low and slow for the dug in and hard to find soft targets any more.

Offline yasotay

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Re: Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2013, 03:40:46 pm »
A good argument Taiidan.  Still while the US would not allow A-10 into Libya, both France and the UK committed attack helicopters to action there, even though the uber-MANPAD (SA-24) was rumored to be operational, not just the SA-18.  They did do more than hover off the coast as well.  Also GPS jammers are not overly "high tech" any more, and some "non-state" actors most likely have them.  As more of the world gains access to information I suspect that ways and means to surmount our technology will be found.
There is another challenge in that the USAF will NOT allow anyone other than a TACP to call in air launched fires.  Just hope every ground unit below battalion has one (hint: they don't).  Also I would say that if you do not stop the enemy from closing with you and you are throwing grenades and curses at each other from shouting distances, a laser guided bomb is of no avail to the ground forces.  A slower aircraft with a cannon might be able to do the job though... it has in the past.  The CAS baton has been handed to the attack helicopter (who can be called in by Army Sargeants or anyone else needing help).
I will defer, as I cannot defend without going into sensitive areas.  Not wanting to hide behind the "that's classified" mantra, I will only say that I hope you are right and future enemies do not figure out how to negate the technologies we have.  I will miss the Hog, having spent much time working with them.  They had our respect because they came down into our dirty world and fought with us.