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A-X all over again - USAF pushes for A-10 replacement

sferrin

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bobbymike said:
Call the CAS Doctors

—Will Skowronski

6/17/2016


​​Continuing the long-running debate, Air Force Chief of Staff nominee Gen. David Goldfein told the Senate Armed Services Committee the service should not retire the A-10 “in the near term.” But Goldfein, who currently serves as the vice chief of staff, told lawmakers during his nomination hearing on Thursday he is just as concerned about the A-10 community as he is about the platform itself when it comes to replacing the close air support fighter. “The A-10 community is actually our PhD force when it comes to close air support, and they set the bar for not only the joint team, but for the coalition team,” he said. “So my focus is going to be on ensuring that I go back to the doctors of CAS—the A-10 fleet and the A-10 operators, and say, ‘What is the future of close air support?’.” Goldfein seemed to throw out ideas of his own for capabilities that should be included in a replacement platform: an ability to fire 10 minutes’ worth of 30-mm rounds :eek:, the use of precision-guided rounds, and technology to help pilots distinguish between friend and foe and perform collateral damage assessments. Goldfein, a 1983 Air Force Academy graduate, led Air Forces Central Command from August 2011 to July 2013 and has flown combat missions in Iraq, the Balkans, and Afghanistan. In April, sources told Air Force Magazine Defense Secretary Ash Carter wanted the next service chief to be a combat veteran capable of leading the Air Force during the ongoing air war against ISIS
"an ability to fire 10 minutes’ worth of 30-mm rounds"

Apparently this guy has been learning from politicians when it comes to pandering.
 

Jeb

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I still wonder about the technology used to de-program the CAS experience and knowledge from former A-10 drivers who move to other platforms, because to hear it explained, they completely forget all about the CAS mission when they end up in something with afterburners.
 

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Revisiting the CalPoly Firefox design with guided 40mm CTA rounds (which seem feasible based on Sandia/DARPA laser guided 50cal recent work) would seem to put more hits on target than many alternatives and satiate CAS needs. The recent 2.5" seeker head on unguided rockets is functionally the same. Bigger hits would require the equivalent of SDB-II but the Firefox's large caliber cannon with guided rounds would again be equivalent.
 

Avimimus

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sferrin said:
"an ability to fire 10 minutes’ worth of 30-mm rounds"

Apparently this guy has been learning from politicians when it comes to pandering.
Yup, definitely sounds a bit silly...

Best case scenario would be a gunship with a water cooled M230LF ...in which case it'd amount to only 2000 rounds. Worst case scenario he wants 42,000 rounds...

However, if he is including a 10 minute cooling off period it could be as low as 300 rounds... :D

Ah, ambiguous press statements...!
 

jsport

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sferrin said:
bobbymike said:
Call the CAS Doctors

—Will Skowronski

6/17/2016


​​Continuing the long-running debate, Air Force Chief of Staff nominee Gen. David Goldfein told the Senate Armed Services Committee the service should not retire the A-10 “in the near term.” But Goldfein, who currently serves as the vice chief of staff, told lawmakers during his nomination hearing on Thursday he is just as concerned about the A-10 community as he is about the platform itself when it comes to replacing the close air support fighter. “The A-10 community is actually our PhD force when it comes to close air support, and they set the bar for not only the joint team, but for the coalition team,” he said. “So my focus is going to be on ensuring that I go back to the doctors of CAS—the A-10 fleet and the A-10 operators, and say, ‘What is the future of close air support?’.” Goldfein seemed to throw out ideas of his own for capabilities that should be included in a replacement platform: an ability to fire 10 minutes’ worth of 30-mm rounds :eek:, the use of precision-guided rounds, and technology to help pilots distinguish between friend and foe and perform collateral damage assessments. Goldfein, a 1983 Air Force Academy graduate, led Air Forces Central Command from August 2011 to July 2013 and has flown combat missions in Iraq, the Balkans, and Afghanistan. In April, sources told Air Force Magazine Defense Secretary Ash Carter wanted the next service chief to be a combat veteran capable of leading the Air Force during the ongoing air war against ISIS
"an ability to fire 10 minutes’ worth of 30-mm rounds"

Apparently this guy has been learning from politicians when it comes to pandering.
sounds like somebody w/ Richard issues. B)
the coke machine (w/ precision) analogy sounds competent.
 

jsport

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A possible explanation for such a bizarre proclamation about a such deep magazined gun could be a Washington side step to turn the A-X argument into one for a larger multi-purpose jet 130 replacement. That plane is what the AF actually wants and to eliminate the A-X requirement altogether.
 

r16

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or maybe he's calling for external drive and the lot for variable rates of fire so that 1000 rounds can be fired over 10 minutes in God knows how many passes . Not that USAF is that smart to get that but .
 

jsport

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off flight axis firing most likely is still out there having already been tested. Precision should be even easier nowadays. So what about 3 shots rather than 70 at a time.

This may also be another onside argument for deep magazine DEW which the AF would also prefer to switch the argument to.

PS Sorry again but Solid state w/ capacitors alone is not going to get ya there.. Hybrid w/ chemicals
 

bobbymike

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http://warontherocks.com/2016/06/the-myth-of-high-threat-close-air-support/
 

AeroFranz

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Interesting article. I always wondered how you can claim to remain undetected to radar whilst being physically close to the emitter (remember radar-range equation works against you) and loitering, thus presumably periodically presenting RCS spikes to an emitter. Are we talking about CAS from twenty miles away?
Regarding intercepting the incoming munitions using SPAAAGs, is there any precedent for that? I keep hearing about it but don't know of an actual test where that was done.
 

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AeroFranz said:
Interesting article. I always wondered how you can claim to remain undetected to radar whilst being physically close to the emitter (remember radar-range equation works against you) and loitering, thus presumably periodically presenting RCS spikes to an emitter. Are we talking about CAS from twenty miles away?
Regarding intercepting the incoming munitions using SPAAAGs, is there any precedent for that? I keep hearing about it but don't know of an actual test where that was done.
Therein lies one advantage of a Gen 5 platform...you've got the stealth aspect that lets you ghost off into a lower-signal area (be where the enemy's attention isn't, inasmuch as that can be accomplished) and then if/when a call for an airstrike comes in, you've got the speed, and hopefully the benefit of altitude, to dash from your quiet space into the hot zone, deliver your smart munitions on the target (no need to lase or line up a manual bomb run), and dash right on out. It's not really that important to be totally invisible through the whole thing, just hard enough to lock up and kill that you leave the SAM operators pissed off and maybe in a cold sweat because "Now they know where we are..."
 

kaiserd

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AeroFranz said:
Interesting article. I always wondered how you can claim to remain undetected to radar whilst being physically close to the emitter (remember radar-range equation works against you) and loitering, thus presumably periodically presenting RCS spikes to an emitter. Are we talking about CAS from twenty miles away?
Regarding intercepting the incoming munitions using SPAAAGs, is there any precedent for that? I keep hearing about it but don't know of an actual test where that was done.
I agree with you that the article was thought provoking (and with your suggestion that perhaps the author may be somewhat over stating various systems capabilities against actual munitions).

The realistic point that an expensive stealthy tailored A-10 replacement isn't worth pursuing is well made.
The only aspect I would add is that some of the CAS role could potentialy be forefilled by F-35 level platforms making greater use of longer range stand-off weapons; achieving many of the same results in a different way.

Relatively small numbers of less ambitious CAS tailored aircraft will have a place in the inventory but best not to aim at a high levels of survivability against true peer level defences (or pretend that a dedicated straffer as being suggested in discussions above can survive and prosper except against very low threat levels).
 

jsport

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bobbymike said:
http://warontherocks.com/2016/06/the-myth-of-high-threat-close-air-support/
thank you for posting BM. assumed disagreement at first but ... even P-munitions are currently and are going to be progressively more threatened.
 

marauder2048

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AeroFranz said:
Interesting article.

Not really. It's full of factual errors e.g. radar guided 57mm AAA and high end SAMs were commonly encountered in the late Vietnam War period in CAS operations. It completely ignores CAS operations over Yugoslavia which demonstrated that AAA and heat seeking SAMs could be suppressed. And then there are the logical inconsistencies most notably the conclusion: the author's magical artillery solution will (at a claimed lower cost) penetrate the SPaaGs and terminal air defense systems that are apparently capable of attriting air launched weaponry into oblivion.
 

jsport

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marauder2048 said:
AeroFranz said:
Interesting article.

Not really. It's full of factual errors e.g. radar guided 57mm AAA and high end SAMs were commonly encountered in the late Vietnam War period in CAS operations. It completely ignores CAS operations over Yugoslavia which demonstrated that AAA and heat seeking SAMs could be suppressed. And then there are the logical inconsistencies most notably the conclusion: the author's magical artillery solution will (at a claimed lower cost) penetrate the SPaaGs and terminal air defense systems that are apparently capable of attriting air launched weaponry into oblivion.
http://www.strategycenter.net/research/pubID.152/pub_detail.asp

At the 2007 IDEX show Chinese sources were willing to offer some comments on a successor tracked SPAAG-M that had been partially revealed by late 2006 Internet images. They confirmed that it would be armed by a twin 35mm cannon and new SAMs they would not identify. Following the pattern of the Type-95, and the Russian ZSU-23 or the German Gepard, targeting would be provided by a combination of tracking and search radar, plus optical systems. Chinese sources also said the 35mm gun would utilize AHEAD (Advanced Hit Efficiency and Destruction) type technology. Originally developed by the Swiss firm Oerlikon Contraves AG (now part of Germany’s Rhinemetall Defense), this unique system uses electromagnetic inductors at the end of the gun barrel to measure the speed of the shell, and then to convey a signal to the shell’s fuse to produce a precisely timed explosion, to allow the disbursal of 152 tungsten subprojectiles in the path of the incoming missile or aircraft. The Oerlikon gun fires at 1,000 rounds per minute (RPM), and typical 25-round burst is used to create a "cloud" of 3,800 tungsten projectiles which shreds incoming missiles or precision-guided munitions (PGMs).



In the late 1980s China purchased a license to co-produce some quantity of an earlier version of the Oerlikon 35mm gun but did not acquire the license to co-produce the unique AHEAD ammunition. However, the source for China’s claim to have AHEAD capability in its new tracked SPAAG was revealed at IDEX: after a European source had identified the 35mm gun on the new SPAAG as South African in origin, South African sources then confirmed that China had purchased the DENEL 35mm Dual Purpose Gun "several years ago." DENEL literature describes this gun, originally designed for naval use, as being upgradeable with AHEAD "In collaboration with Oerlikon Contraves AG…" It cannot be confirmed whether China also obtained the capability to manufacture the AHEAD ammunition from South Africa. However, this is a possibility given the Chinese claim to have AHEAD for this new 35mm tracked SPAAG. It is also possible that South Africa provided additional "consulting" for this SPAAG, perhaps based on its defunct twin-35mm cannon ZA-35 project of the 1980s, which reportedly also formed the basis for Poland’s PZA Loara twin-35mm tracked SPAAG."
 

jsport

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marauder2048 said:
AeroFranz said:
Interesting article.

Not really. It's full of factual errors e.g. radar guided 57mm AAA and high end SAMs were commonly encountered in the late Vietnam War period in CAS operations. It completely ignores CAS operations over Yugoslavia which demonstrated that AAA and heat seeking SAMs could be suppressed. And then there are the logical inconsistencies most notably the conclusion: the author's magical artillery solution will (at a claimed lower cost) penetrate the SPaaGs and terminal air defense systems that are apparently capable of attriting air launched weaponry into oblivion.
http://warsonline.info/pvo/kontsern-almaz-antey-sozdaet-noveyshiy-zrk-blizhnego-radiusa-deystviya-morfey.html
 

marauder2048

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to create a "cloud" of 3,800 tungsten projectiles which shreds incoming missiles or precision-guided munitions
IOW, a recipe for radar blackout which complicates kill assessment and follow-up engagements. This, in part, is why there has been a shift to more intelligent shells and HTK techniques.

SPAAGs are going to want to stay away from close contact with enemy ground forces (i.e. a CAS scenario) since they are vulnerable to the lightest of anti-tank weapons. Recall, SPAAGs and other mechanized air defense systems (the "funnies") were at the top of the priority target list for NATO anti-armor teams.
 

fightingirish

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A-10 Warthog Replacement: U.S. Air Force Considers Two-Step Approach
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
Lara Seligman
Jul 21, 2016

The U.S. Air Force is contemplating pursuing a low-end, light attack “OA-X” aircraft to augment the A-10 Warthog in a close-air support (CAS) role, while simultaneously aiming for a more robust replacement, dubbed “A-X2,” down the line.
As the Air Force prepares to start sunsetting the beloved A-10 in fiscal year 2018, the service is still deciding on a path ahead for CAS. During a July 20 meeting, U.S. Air Force officials briefed outside stakeholders on the most recent thinking, detailing the possibility of pursuing two separate light-attack aircraft, potentially in parallel, to meet immediate and long-term needs.

The service officials detailed a possible “OA-X” for solely permissive environments, according to Mark Gunzinger, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. OA-X would be a low-end, low-cost, non-developmental aircraft meant to augment the Air Force’s existing light attack capabilities, he said.

For OA-X, the officials said the Air Force would likely look to an existing airframe, such as the A-29 Super Tucano or the AT-6 trainer, for use in a low-threat battlespace, said Loren Thompson, an analyst with the Lexington Institute.

The Air Force does not see OA-X as a replacement for the A-10, but rather as a supplemental capability, Gunzinger stressed.

Simultaneously, the service is also looking into an “A-X2” as a long-term Warthog replacement, the analysts said. Ideally, A-X2 would be designed to operate in a moderate- to low-threat regime, meaning that it could fight in some contested conditions. The service officials left the door open as to whether A-X2 would be an existing airframe or an entirely new aircraft, but noted that affordability and speed to ramp would be critical.

The push for a new light attack capability comes as the Air Force faces budget constraints and a readiness gap across the fleet. The service is looking at potentially adding a cheap, off-the-shelf aircraft to not only to fulfill the CAS role, but also to augment pilot training and add some new cockpits to the fleet, said Rebecca Grant, president of IRIS Independent Research.

“One way they can assist with their readiness is to have some additional cockpits available … maybe this is two birds with one stone,” Grant said. “I think they feel they need to buy some new planes.”

Gunzinger stressed that details are yet to be finalized, but said he thinks the Air Force could allocate money for the program as soon as the 2019 Program Objective Memorandum (POM).

“They are thinking about how to continue to support this critical mission area given that they have an aging force, a smaller force, and readiness issues and of course definitely budget issues,” Gunzinger said. “This is a very concrete signal that the Air Force is committed to supporting our men and women on the ground.”

Gunzinger also raised the possibility that one or both could be funded through the supplemental war fund, called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

But Thompson said the Air Force may see pushback if it attempts to add two separate aircraft to the modernization plan.

“The reason why they are looking at that instead of simply maintaining the A-10 is because they claim the A-10 costs too much,” Thompson said. “But now they are going to try to add two aircraft to their modernization plan that no one was expecting.”
Source: http://aviationweek.com/defense/10-warthog-replacement-us-air-force-considers-two-step-approach
 

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I think there is room below the F-35 for an affordable, low-threat, CAS machine. I don't know that there is room for a third tier though!
Adopting a dual-role platform (training in peace time, CAS in war time) is attractive. Much of the required CAS/ISR capability can be left out of the airframe and supplemented when needed with pods (NGMS OpenPod comes to mind). It would make sense to wire all the airframes for the capability, just not carry it all the time.
 

CiTrus90

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The U.S. Air Force is contemplating pursuing a low-end, light attack “OA-X” aircraft to augment the A-10 Warthog in a close-air support (CAS) role, while simultaneously aiming for a more robust replacement, dubbed “A-X2,” down the line.

[...] the possibility of pursuing two separate light-attack aircraft, potentially in parallel, to meet immediate and long-term needs.

[...]“OA-X” for solely permissive environments [...] low-end, low-cost, non-developmental aircraft meant to augment the Air Force’s existing light attack capabilities.

[...]The Air Force does not see OA-X as a replacement for the A-10, but rather as a supplemental capability.

[...]Simultaneously, the service is also looking into an “A-X2” as a long-term Warthog replacement [...] designed to operate in a moderate- to low-threat regime, meaning that it could fight in some contested conditions. The service officials left the door open as to whether A-X2 would be an existing airframe or an entirely new aircraft, but noted that affordability and speed to ramp would be critical.

[...] The service is looking at potentially adding a cheap, off-the-shelf aircraft to not only to fulfill the CAS role, but also to augment pilot training and add some new cockpits to the fleet.

[...] "I think they feel they need to buy some new planes.”

[...]But Thompson said the Air Force may see pushback if it attempts to add two separate aircraft to the modernization plan.
I can't shake off the impression that the author of this article really meant to say OA-X = Textron Scorpion and A-X2 = T-X offshoot.

Regards.
 

kaiserd

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CiTrus90 said:
The U.S. Air Force is contemplating pursuing a low-end, light attack “OA-X” aircraft to augment the A-10 Warthog in a close-air support (CAS) role, while simultaneously aiming for a more robust replacement, dubbed “A-X2,” down the line.

[...] the possibility of pursuing two separate light-attack aircraft, potentially in parallel, to meet immediate and long-term needs.

[...]“OA-X” for solely permissive environments [...] low-end, low-cost, non-developmental aircraft meant to augment the Air Force’s existing light attack capabilities.

[...]The Air Force does not see OA-X as a replacement for the A-10, but rather as a supplemental capability.

[...]Simultaneously, the service is also looking into an “A-X2” as a long-term Warthog replacement [...] designed to operate in a moderate- to low-threat regime, meaning that it could fight in some contested conditions. The service officials left the door open as to whether A-X2 would be an existing airframe or an entirely new aircraft, but noted that affordability and speed to ramp would be critical.

[...] The service is looking at potentially adding a cheap, off-the-shelf aircraft to not only to fulfill the CAS role, but also to augment pilot training and add some new cockpits to the fleet.

[...] "I think they feel they need to buy some new planes.”

[...]But Thompson said the Air Force may see pushback if it attempts to add two separate aircraft to the modernization plan.
I can't shake off the impression that the author of this article really meant to say OA-X = Textron Scorpion and A-X2 = T-X offshoot.

Regards.
In reality the OA-X would logically be an off the shelf purchase of a realitively smal number (approx 100) of an existing turboprop CAS aircraft such as the Super Tucano

I still don't see the logic of a A-X2, especially if developed out of the T-X. Apart from being nominally cheaper to purchase why would a T-X derived airframe be any more suited to the CAS role than, say, an F-16 or even F-35. It would be no more tailored for the role and would be less useful and less survivable.
Instead perhaps more clearly seen as a third tier aircraft for the US airforce really intended for political purposes; an aircraft to help secure the T-X, equip air national guard units and keep bases open but essentially not to be risked against anything but the least capable opponents. It would actualy make more sense to spend the same money on some new F-16s (or just more F-35s) but such a procurement strategy is not about making sense.
 

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A lot of my opinion is subject to timelines, budgets, what OA-X is, etc, but I think A-X2 could or potentially should be something like an unmanned T-X variant.

I think that if you're dealing with insurgents that are rarely equipped with anything other than small arms, a reasonably armoured, simplistic COIN aircraft like the Super Tucano should be fine and could become OA-X. For high-end / WW3 / Marines storming Shanghai or the western plains of Russia or whatever, you'd naturally have a mix of platforms, but you'd be a bit more more reliant on B-21s, F-35s and potentially F-22s for CAS.

For the middle ground; like for the opening days of an invasion of Iran or the second offensive wave of North Korea, it'd be dangerous to have Super Tucanos flying around, but it might also be unnecessary to have 5th gen assets performing the majority of CAS. Something like a T-X variant might be ideal, but I would expect such a plane to be relatively lightly armoured, if at all, and I'd also expect it to sparingly use unguided munitions, meaning that it's dollars per kill ratio might not be that much greater. There's nothing inherently preventing such a plane from doing rocket attacks and gun runs, but even A-10s generally leave those attacks until the enemy's first been softened up with PGMs.

If such a plane can be small and relatively cheap, by maximising the economy of scale benefits through commonality with T-X, an unmanned conversion could be a good solution; cheaper to operate due to the reduced training usage, relatively expendable if it does for a gun run and hidden AAA tears it apart, and it can alleviate the concerns about having "non-CAS pilots" flying the airframes. An evolution of DARPA's work with PCAS could even allow the systems to be slaved directly to JTACs in the area.
 

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I can see a role for a straight A-10 replacement. To begin with, there is the cost issue. From what we've seen of the F-35, CPFH is a serious concern for the USAF, hence the interest in doing training in T-X and more advanced simulators. Meanwhile, a lesson from Iraq/Afghanistan is the importance of having a dedicated CAS group which trains extensively with the Army on maneuvers. Thus, a F-35 based CAS squadron will have to spend a lot of time training in T-X platform. At which point, you may ask, why not give it a T-X like platform...

Second, and more importantly, CAS is a doctrinally less important mission. In a medium to high intensity conflict, the USAF will want to use its expensive F-35 squadrons for the important missions: OCA, SEAD, Interdiction, etc. An AX-2 which costs half as much as a F-35 can do the frontline CAS at a much cheaper rate than F-35. In other words, why waste the F-35 on a mission where it might blow up a tank or two before returning to refuel and rearm. Furthermore, AX-2 will be more suited to dispersed operations, allowing it to do rapid turnaround for CAS.

Lastly, I don't really think that high-end CAS is actually a thing. If the front line is too dangerous for an A-10 style replacement, it is too dangerous for anything running CAS. (Pantsir S1 has a missile altitude of 15km) If there is unsuppresed high-end Air Defenses, CAS has to come from Army artillery, not the USAF. Again, a CAS mission in high-end environment is putting an expensive stealth fighter at risk for the possibility of killing a few tanks.

Side question: Can the F-35 carry CBUs internally? Is there a provision for putting dumb bombs internal? I wonder, because I suspect smart nom munition shortage will be a problem in a future high end battle.
 

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Russian Air Defence Systems (Almaz Antey Concern)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GcAUaLrPNU

take a gander at start minute 2:36
Gazetchik E
Radar protection Equipment
 

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DrRansom said:
Side question: Can the F-35 carry CBUs internally? Is there a provision for putting dumb bombs internal? I wonder, because I suspect smart nom munition shortage will be a problem in a future high end battle.
Eventually WCMD internally. Nothing dumb internally, and only a very few types externally. If they do have shortages, they'll still reserve smart weapons for missions where internal carriage is needed.
 

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I wonder how much this notional A-X program is related to the Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) or Light Air Support (LAS) program. I also wonder if the United States Air Force will purchase the Sierra Nevada A-29 Super Tucano and/or the Beech AT-6 Wolverine if the war against ISIS involves boots on the ground.
 

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Sounds like LAS with just enough changed to justify a new competition for Beechcraft to win protest again.
 

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Discussion about the F/A--XX needing a deep magazine is correct. A magazine of standoff survivable swarms maybe. The whole strategy of current technology PGMs is in question not to mentioned a survivable CAS aircraft. Soon even individual vehicles may possess APSs which can defeat traditional PGMs not mention all the evolving IADS tech previous mentioned on this thread. This of course doesn't even address the DEW threat to PGMs.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1893973/china-moves-big-step-closer-star-wars-laser-weapons
 

CiTrus90

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I can't see OA-X to be a turboprop single engine aircraft.

Just for an example, consider the OV-10s deployed to Iraq. The USAF did not choose to send the A-29 or the AT-6, why would that be?
I suspect 3 main reasons: range, payload, survivability.

A-29 and AT-6 are single engined aircraft, if the engine cuts out or gets hit (of high importance in the last period, keeping into consideration the proliferation of MANPADS), the crew has lower chances to make it back to base compared to a twin engined aircraft.

Considering the modern operational theaters, the areas to be patrolled and interdicted are wide, and an aircraft providing CAS is required to stay on station for an effective amount of time. With an A-29 or an AT-6 you have short legs; you can extend their range with external fuel tanks, but this comes at the price of sacrificing the amount of deliverable payload on targets.

It's true turboprops have lower operating cost in regards to a jet aircraft, but while they can be more than effective for the training role and for homeland defence roles, they're not an effective asset that can be deployed to a front-line, even considering a low-threat asymmetrical battlefield.

The Scorpion gives a solution to all these issues. It's been built from the get go as as a trainer, light attack and ISR platform. True, it comes at a higer price and slightly higher operating costs, but it offers much more than a single engined turboprop could. It's in the middle: not as cheap as it could be, and not as expensive as other platforms for the performances it provides.

Moreover, there could be political reasons for such a choice. The Scorpion is currently awaiting a launch customer; while it has been received with much interest by many, so far no state seems to be currently willing to be the first one to field it. Without a US launch customer it may probably never get into production.

Also, the T-6 II is already in use in the US, so it would be a logical choice to go (taking into consideration only the economical aspects) with the AT-6 for that role. But, the AT-6 is a Beechcraft product, and Beechcraft is part of Textron Aviation. While the AT-6 may still have a market for a decade at most, the Scorpion could have at least two decades of production ahead of itself. I guess Textron would be more willing to push the Scorpion for the role rather than the Wolverine.

But this is just my opinion...
 

DrRansom

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Whatever replaces the A-10, high end or low end, has to be small arms resistant, up to 14.5mm. I don't know if the light attack craft are up to that task...
 

Arian

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jsport said:
take a gander at start minute 2:36
Gazetchik E
Radar protection Equipment
Looks like chaff launchers. How are those going to stop a weapon which doesn't rely on radar to engage a radar? Those radar self-defense systems have been around for several decades already, either false emitters to draw HARM fire away from the radar or chaff launchers like the ones shown in the video.

None of that would really work against the guidance used on modern AD suppression weapons. Not when you have targeting solutions being drawn not only from passive emitter detection but also by SAR maps of an area which will be able to visually detect the locations of radars and AD equipment, giving you GPS coordinates which you can then use to attack with any number of weapons. These decoy/self-defense systems are designed to deal with the weapons of the 90s, not of today.

These AX-2 types of requirements aren't for "second wave" attacks after F-35 has suppressed enemy AD. That's still going to be F-35s, but probably mounting external weapons at that point. With the large fleet of F-35 planned, this isn't about conserving F-35s and using a cheaper plane for the job. AX-2 is likely for scenarios where you need loitering + ISR capability and weapons that don't need to be 500lb class. Which means you're not going to need hundreds of these planes, but probably a small force. Something a bit more versatile and cheaper than a Reaper drone.

That's this thing: http://www.scorpionjet.com/
 

kaiserd

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With all due respect do some of you guys have shares in the Scorpion?

The US airforce isn't going to buy the thing to just boast its export potential.

The hard facts are that you have a cheaper, proven CAS/ COIN aircraft like the A-29 Tucano versus an unproven aircraft (Scorpion) which has technical issues (need for a new/ developed wing) and that would need considerable development for the CAS role (for example currently featuring any armour?).

If the US airforce decides that the a A-29 Tucano type-solution isn't for them then a new set of requirements will be written and a new design will surely emerge. The odds of everything to align for the Scorpion are very small (even a T-X based solution, which I wouldn't be a fan of, makes more sense.)
 

Sundog

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kaiserd said:
With all due respect do some of you guys have shares in the Scorpion?

The US airforce isn't going to buy the thing to just boast its export potential.

The hard facts are that you have a cheaper, proven CAS/ COIN aircraft like the A-29 Tucano versus an unproven aircraft (Scorpion) which has technical issues (need for a new/ developed wing) and that would need considerable development for the CAS role (for example currently featuring any armour?).

If the US airforce decides that the a A-29 Tucano type-solution isn't for them then a new set of requirements will be written and a new design will surely emerge. The odds of everything to align for the Scorpion are very small (even a T-X based solution, which I wouldn't be a fan of, makes more sense.)
The Scorpion doesn't need the armor, because it doesn't get low, it targets our of range of ground fire. The redesigned wing is already designed and is going to fly this year, so that isn't even an issue. The Scorpion is actually much closer to filling the CAS role than the TX role. None of us supporting the Scorpion are talking about it being a low alt gun platform. We're talking more along the lines of what F-16s and F-35s will do, but at much lower cost in permissive environments like they're flying now. A down low gun platform would require an all new design, the A-29 couldn't even come close to replacing the A-10 in that role. The USAF doesn't like the A-10 as it is and they would like the A-29 even less.

Also, Textron didn't offer the Scorpion for the TX program because they knew it couldn't even come close to meeting the performance specifications, so that was always a non starter.
 

Triton

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Unfortunately, we aren't hearing what the customer wants, the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps, in this discussion. The discussion is limited to the service that the United States Air Force is willing to provide.
 

CiTrus90

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kaiserd said:
With all due respect do some of you guys have shares in the Scorpion?
No, I don't :D

The hard facts are that you have a cheaper, proven CAS/ COIN aircraft like the A-29 Tucano versus an unproven aircraft (Scorpion)
Proven CAS/COIN aircraft as in "it's an aircraft that has seen service since 2003" or proven as in "combat proven"?

Because if you mean the first, yes you're right. It's an already developed platform, fully mature. It can be bought as is, but you won't probably see much room for potential future upgrades for it.

If you mean combat proven, I disagree. Bombing narcos airfields in the jungle doesn't mean providing CAS to troops on the ground.
It may have been a good candidate at providing CAS until some 2 or 3 years ago, but now MANPADS are an issue. I keep insisting on this point, because a MANPADS is the highest level of threat an aircraft providing CAS should be facing. If there is A2/AD in place CAS should not be conducted, because no aircraft would be able to survive it (unless we're talking about a stealth one).

Moreover, putting aside the MANPADS threat, and just thinking about 14.5mm or higher caliber weapons, is it easier to target an aircraft flying at 590km/h or one that can fly at 833km/h?

Again, speed is paramount for 2 reasons: first, the faster you run the higher chances you have to outrun whatever they're throwing at you, and second, higher speeds mean you're able to reach the guys who need you for CAS faster, and this saves lives.

Notice how the A-10 max speed is 706km/h and cruise speed is 560km/h.
The Super Tucano tops at 590km/h and cruises at 520km/h.
I wonder how much they change when they fly with a full loadout, but I suppose the Scorpion would still retain a higher speed than the A-29. And it stalls at 176km/h, so while the Scorpion can slow down if needed, the A-29 cannot speed up.

You could tell me the A-29, being slower, has a better turn rate so it could get back in the area faster, but this in turn would mean never leaving the area in the first place. This exposes the aircraft to a higher possibility of being fired upon from the ground and creates deconfliction issues with whatever may be needed in the area where CAS is being conducted (e.g. artillery strikes, MEDEVAC...).

(Scorpion) which has technical issues (need for a new/ developed wing) and that would need considerable development for the CAS role (for example currently featuring any armour?).
The wing is being worked upon. Was the prototype EMB-314 ready for the CAS role when it rolled out?

If the US airforce decides that the a A-29 Tucano type-solution isn't for them then a new set of requirements will be written and a new design will surely emerge. The odds of everything to align for the Scorpion are very small (even a T-X based solution, which I wouldn't be a fan of, makes more sense.)
If, and it's a big IF, things stay like they are, they clearly stated they need a new aircraft in the short term, while waiting for a better platform to take over the A-10s role.
If they really want a new aircraft as soon as possible to complement the A-10, which I somewhat doubt because we're talking about the Air Force, they will not wait for a company to start a new project up from scratch. It's now or never, which is also the reason I see with some suspicion the fact that Boeing recently entered a development partnership to produce a militarized version of the South African Ahrlac.

The T-X solution would be a good idea in order to standardize the fleet, much as with what is happening with the KAI TA-50, FA-50. It could do pretty much the same an F-16 currently does, but it would never be a true successor for the A-10, so in this aspect it's quite misleading to call it the A-X2. But the era for dedicated single role aircraft is over.
 

kaiserd

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CiTrus90 said:
kaiserd said:
With all due respect do some of you guys have shares in the Scorpion?
No, I don't :D

The hard facts are that you have a cheaper, proven CAS/ COIN aircraft like the A-29 Tucano versus an unproven aircraft (Scorpion)
Proven CAS/COIN aircraft as in "it's an aircraft that has seen service since 2003" or proven as in "combat proven"?

Because if you mean the first, yes you're right. It's an already developed platform, fully mature. It can be bought as is, but you won't probably see much room for potential future upgrades for it.

If you mean combat proven, I disagree. Bombing narcos airfields in the jungle doesn't mean providing CAS to troops on the ground.
It may have been a good candidate at providing CAS until some 2 or 3 years ago, but now MANPADS are an issue. I keep insisting on this point, because a MANPADS is the highest level of threat an aircraft providing CAS should be facing. If there is A2/AD in place CAS should not be conducted, because no aircraft would be able to survive it (unless we're talking about a stealth one).

Moreover, putting aside the MANPADS threat, and just thinking about 14.5mm or higher caliber weapons, is it easier to target an aircraft flying at 590km/h or one that can fly at 833km/h?

Again, speed is paramount for 2 reasons: first, the faster you run the higher chances you have to outrun whatever they're throwing at you, and second, higher speeds mean you're able to reach the guys who need you for CAS faster, and this saves lives.

Notice how the A-10 max speed is 706km/h and cruise speed is 560km/h.
The Super Tucano tops at 590km/h and cruises at 520km/h.
I wonder how much they change when they fly with a full loadout, but I suppose the Scorpion would still retain a higher speed than the A-29. And it stalls at 176km/h, so while the Scorpion can slow down if needed, the A-29 cannot speed up.

You could tell me the A-29, being slower, has a better turn rate so it could get back in the area faster, but this in turn would mean never leaving the area in the first place. This exposes the aircraft to a higher possibility of being fired upon from the ground and creates deconfliction issues with whatever may be needed in the area where CAS is being conducted (e.g. artillery strikes, MEDEVAC...).

(Scorpion) which has technical issues (need for a new/ developed wing) and that would need considerable development for the CAS role (for example currently featuring any armour?).
The wing is being worked upon. Was the prototype EMB-314 ready for the CAS role when it rolled out?

If the US airforce decides that the a A-29 Tucano type-solution isn't for them then a new set of requirements will be written and a new design will surely emerge. The odds of everything to align for the Scorpion are very small (even a T-X based solution, which I wouldn't be a fan of, makes more sense.)
If, and it's a big IF, things stay like they are, they clearly stated they need a new aircraft in the short term, while waiting for a better platform to take over the A-10s role.
If they really want a new aircraft as soon as possible to complement the A-10, which I somewhat doubt because we're talking about the Air Force, they will not wait for a company to start a new project up from scratch. It's now or never, which is also the reason I see with some suspicion the fact that Boeing recently entered a development partnership to produce a militarized version of the South African Ahrlac.

The T-X solution would be a good idea in order to standardize the fleet, much as with what is happening with the KAI TA-50, FA-50. It could do pretty much the same an F-16 currently does, but it would never be a true successor for the A-10, so in this aspect it's quite misleading to call it the A-X2. But the era for dedicated single role aircraft is over.
The reality is that we are likely talking about a buy of a small number of cheap limited capability aircraft to complement more expensive and survivable types (the F-35 being the obvious example); in that context a A-29 like solution makes most sense.
If facing actualy threatening air defences (including latest generation MANPADS) then for political and other reasons less survivable typed like a Scorpion just won't be risked; it will be the likes of F-16s and F-35s from medium altitude with stand-off weapons. The Scorpion offers very marginal unproven and unnecessary performance advantages over existing proven turboprop alternatives for the level of threat it would be politically acceptable to send either against.
 

Arian

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Yes, a small number of limited capability aircraft is likely what we're talking about. Providing CAS after the heavy AD have been suppressed. But as we've seen in Ukraine and Syria and Yemen and Georgia, no matter the environment, the threat of MANPADs and light AAA is always going to be there and going to be very dangerous for any aircraft flying within their envelope.

An A-29 just isn't going to cut it. Not enough firepower or ISR capability. CAS is going to be from higher latitudes and outside the range of such weapons, with a gun option thrown in. Which means you'll need to carry lots of sensors to be able to carry out that mission from outside the range of short-range AD, unless you want to lose aircraft daily. If its not going to be the Scorpion, it's going to be something very similar to the Scorpion.

I am less convinced of a T-X solution because at that point you're simply talking a small F-16 type airplane.
 

marauder2048

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CiTrus90 said:
This exposes the aircraft to a higher possibility of being fired upon from the ground and creates deconfliction issues with whatever may be needed in the area where CAS is being conducted (e.g. artillery strikes, MEDEVAC...).
The deconfliction issues are going to become more pronounced as extended range mortars and artillery become more prevalent; the 81mm ACERM (a winged mortar with forward canards) stays above 1000m over most of its flight path out to 20+ km.
 

marauder2048

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It's also instructive to see the capabilities that will be coming to the AC-130J (~ $5000 CPFH) in the next few years. (From SOFIC 2016). And since I got tired of looking at 3D renderings of Dynetics' Small Glide Munition there are some actual photos.
 

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