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

TomS

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XP67_Moonbat said:
OA-X contenders are looking kinda sparse.

http://www.combataircraft.net/2017/04/12/oa-x-contenders-are-dropping-like-flies/
Not too shocking not to see the Tucano show up -- they've already won one competition (LAS) and are seeing at least some actual combat. The demonstration won't add to that.

Scorpion sort of has to show up to look credible, since Textron hasn't really got much track record in this sort of product.

AT-6 has to try to demonstrate how they've improved since losing the LAS competition.

IOMAX probably isn't high enough performance to be seriously considered -- nothing that struggles to get to 200 knots is going to work for the USAF.
 

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Out of curiosity - what is keeping AHRLAC out of the competition?
 

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Avimimus said:
Out of curiosity - what is keeping AHRLAC out of the competition?
They're partnered with Boeing on upgrading their plane and Boeing is sitting this part of the program out. They could go around Big B to enter a demonstrator, but since they'd still need an American company to team with for any potential production order they likely wouldn't want to.
 

TomS

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Also, AHRLAC have only one or two flying airframes right now, and those are probably tied up in development for their current customers.
 

kcran567

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Every light fighter out there is uninspiring to say the least. And there is no true A-10 replacement on the horizon. No innovation, no balls.

Bronco, Tucano, Hawk...are you kidding?

If you want the big gun and armor, you'll end up with the A-10, but there will never be another true armored big gun airplane like the A-10. Maybe something like a scaled down Frogfoot.

Maybe something like a modern swing wing aircraft hi sortie aircraft that can fly slow and then Dash when needed, but needs to be made tough enough to take punishment to be a true CAS.
 

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kcran567 said:
Every light fighter out there is uninspiring to say the least. And there is no true A-10 replacement on the horizon. No innovation, no balls.

Bronco, Tucano, Hawk...are you kidding?

If you want the big gun and armor, you'll end up with the A-10, but there will never be another true armored big gun airplane like the A-10. Maybe something like a scaled down Frogfoot.

Maybe something like a modern swing wing aircraft hi sortie aircraft that can fly slow and then Dash when needed, but needs to be made tough enough to take punishment to be a true CAS.
I think the complexity of the swing-wing would defeat one of the purposes of having such an aircraft. Better to accept that it will be somewhat slow.
 

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kcran567 said:
there is no true A-10 replacement on the horizon. No innovation, no balls.
If you are referring to something that requires use of a big gun and Mk1 eyeball as its main sensor (essentially what the A-10 is), then I would add "No need". The mission of the A-10 can be done in other ways.
 

Triton

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"IOMAX Archangel to sit out USAF's OA-X demonstration"
Gareth Jennings, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
12 April 2017

Source:
http://www.janes.com/article/69507/iomax-archangel-to-sit-out-usaf-s-oa-x-demonstration

IOMAX will not enter its Archangel Border Patrol Aircraft (BPA) into the US Air Force's (USAF's) OA-X light-attack demonstration set to be flown later this year, the company CEO told Jane's on 12 April.

While Ron Howard gave no reason for the lack of interest in the USAF's capability assessment planned for the third quarter of 2017, it is likely down to the OA-X requirements being geared towards a particular platform other than the Archangel BPA, and also to the company's recent experiences with the service over its thwarted attempts to sell the Archangel BPA to foreign allies.

In terms of the OA-X requirements, a solicitation posted by the USAF on 17 March listed a series of requirements that appear to have been drawn up with the Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano in mind (the USAF already sources this aircraft for allied air forces through Sierra-Nevada Corporation [SNC]).

Specific requirements listed include a pressurised cockpit (up to 25,000 ft) with tandem zero-zero ejection seats; a documented ability to employ Paveway II weapons, aerial gunnery, and guided/unguided rockets; a documented ability to meet a 2.5 hours (with an average total fuel flow approximately 1,500 lbs/h) mission endurance with appropriate visual flight rules fuel reserves, full guns, and two weapon stations loaded with munitions (external fuel tanks are permissible to attain this mission endurance); a documented ability to taxi, take off, land, refuel, and re-arm on austere fields with unimproved surfaces (rated at a California Bearing Ratio-5) with no ground support other than fuel and US standard munitions handling equipment; a demonstrated ability to take off using a maximum runway length of less than 6,000 ft to clear a 50-ft obstacle, and to then fly a minimum 2.5 hour combat profile; and a documented manufacturing capability and capacity, in compliance with Buy America Act, to meet the intended production quantities and lot buys.
 

TomS

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Triton said:
"IOMAX Archangel to sit out USAF's OA-X demonstration"
Gareth Jennings, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
12 April 2017

Source:
http://www.janes.com/article/69507/iomax-archangel-to-sit-out-usaf-s-oa-x-demonstration
So those requirements also indicate why AHRLAC isn't participating. Notably the requirement to comply with the Buy America Act -- they don't have any sort of US-based manufacturing capability.
 

Triton

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"OA-X: Is the U.S. Air Force Ready to Purchase a New Light Attack Aircraft?"
Dave Majumdar
March 28, 2017

Source:
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/oa-x-the-us-air-force-ready-purchace-new-light-attack-19927

The United States Air Force is expected to hold demonstrations this summer to show off the capabilities of a new light attack aircraft the service might eventually purchase under a new OA-X program.

The Air Force had attempted to buy a light attack aircraft in 2008 under a previous iteration of the OA-X program, but ultimately that effort came to naught. The previous OA-X effort came at a time when the Air Force was fighting two counterinsurgency wars simultaneously in Iraq and Afghanistan, but political forces and bureaucratic inertia within the service carried the day. How this latest iteration of the OA-X will fare is an open question—but undoubtedly there are those within the Air Force who will vigorously fight the purchase of any new tactical aircraft that isn’t the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Nonetheless, the Air Force is proceeding with its planned demonstration effort. The hope is that an operational OA-X would eventually free up more expensive fighter aircraft such as the Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle or F-35 Lightning II for missions against more challenging foes.

Former Air Force B-52 pilot and airpower analyst Mark Gunzinger at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said that this time around, the Air Force is likely serious about the OA-X. The service desperately needs more aircraft to provide more flying hours for its pilots and a low-cost OA-X could be just the answer the Air Force is looking for.

“The Air Force has been clear it is pursuing a light attack aircraft – perhaps more than a single variant over time – that could support counterinsurgency operations in permissive environments as well as increase the number of cockpits available to season pilots at an affordable cost per flying hour,” Gunzinger told The National Interest.

“I think the latter point is too quickly dismissed by some critics of this initiative. The Air Force has a pilot shortfall that is projected to grow to over 700 in the next couple of years. Moreover, while the Air Force’s Combat Air Force has shrunk to 55 fighter squadrons and a handful of bomber squadrons, there are other critical positions that require pilots such as joint staffs, operational planning staffs, etc. The Air Force is going to produce more pilots, but they will need cockpits for them – and a light attack aircraft with a two-pilot cockpit and a cost per flying hour of $4-5,000 could be a cost-effective alternative. Add to that the availability of several off-the-shelf (or nearly so) aircraft; this becomes an option the Congress could fund that would have a near-immediate impact on the Air Force’s readiness. There is also the potential for foreign military sales to allies and partners. So, this said, I think the initiative has a good chance of succeeding.”

Col. Michael Pietrucha—one of the originators of the 2008 OA-X concept—wrote in War on the Rocks that the demand signal for airpower fighting counterinsurgency wars shows no sign of abating.

“We can no longer pretend that the demand for combat airpower in irregular conflicts will end soon,” Pietrucha wrote.

“The re-emergence of great power competition does not automatically translate into a reduction of irregular threats. Faced with a problem set that will not go away and a fighter/attack fleet that has been ridden hard and put away wet, it makes perfect sense to add combat capability quickly, and it is entirely reasonable that that airpower be designed for the conflicts we face today. OA-X is intended to be an additive capability — not to replace any other element of the fighter/attack fleet. The Air Force is not trading away its ability to fight a peer adversary, but it is making sure that the forces necessary for a modern theater war are ready for that fight by not frittering the lifespans of our advanced legacy fighters away on tasks that could be done as well for far less cost. The Air Force has done this before, and it has good reason to try again.”
 

Triton

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GTX said:
kcran567 said:
there is no true A-10 replacement on the horizon. No innovation, no balls.
If you are referring to something that requires use of a big gun and Mk1 eyeball as its main sensor (essentially what the A-10 is), then I would add "No need". The mission of the A-10 can be done in other ways.
Perhaps because the A-10 replacement is still the F-35A?
 

GTX

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Triton said:
Perhaps because the A-10 replacement is still the F-35A?
Not just the F-35. The F-35 is jus one way of undertaking the roles traditionally performed by the A-10. Other platforms (e.g. F-16, F-15, F/A-18 etc) all contribute. As do larger platforms (e.g. B-1b, B-2 etc) as well as non manned platforms (various UAVs, guided missiles etc) and indeed non-air platforms altogether (artillery rounds etc etc). In a modern/future battlefield heavily laden with networked systems and the like the whole "network centric warfare" effect could take the lead here. Therefore, to take just one traditional A-10 role, that of CAS, technically an infantry unit in the field could call in for CAS support but get this satisfied using some combination of F-35s dropping ordnance, a MQ-9 firing missiles, a USMC unit launching HIMARS rockets or even potentially a naval platform firing rounds inland.

My point was that in the future, the old A-10 with big gun and Mk1 eyeball is just one way of undertaking said missions and arguably an outmoded means at that (even if it is sexy).
 

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"Specific requirements listed include a pressurised cockpit (up to 25,000 ft) with tandem zero-zero ejection seats"
This killed out the Archangel and others similar design. Without pressurisation, Pilots would have to fly below 15000ft or keepr their oxygen masq on for a lengthy period of time.
On the IOMAX, this translate to orbit at 12kft and 100+ knots. Not a survivable environement if you also want to nurture your pilots flight hours.
If none of the FVL competitors enter the competition (the 10/20M$ might seem a little bit too tight budget), the game will certainly be runned b/w Textron (a mix of aircraft?) and SN
 

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GTX said:
Triton said:
Perhaps because the A-10 replacement is still the F-35A?
Not just the F-35. The F-35 is jus one way of undertaking the roles traditionally performed by the A-10. Other platforms (e.g. F-16, F-15, F/A-18 etc) all contribute. As do larger platforms (e.g. B-1b, B-2 etc) as well as non manned platforms (various UAVs, guided missiles etc) and indeed non-air platforms altogether (artillery rounds etc etc). In a modern/future battlefield heavily laden with networked systems and the like the whole "network centric warfare" effect could take the lead here. Therefore, to take just one traditional A-10 role, that of CAS, technically an infantry unit in the field could call in for CAS support but get this satisfied using some combination of F-35s dropping ordnance, a MQ-9 firing missiles, a USMC unit launching HIMARS rockets or even potentially a naval platform firing rounds inland.

My point was that in the future, the old A-10 with big gun and Mk1 eyeball is just one way of undertaking said missions and arguably an outmoded means at that (even if it is sexy).
Triton said:
GTX said:
kcran567 said:
there is no true A-10 replacement on the horizon. No innovation, no balls.
If you are referring to something that requires use of a big gun and Mk1 eyeball as its main sensor (essentially what the A-10 is), then I would add "No need". The mission of the A-10 can be done in other ways.
Perhaps because the A-10 replacement is still the F-35A?
Funny, troops on the ground actually want the A-10 but we are force feeding the mission of the A-10 to the F-35, unmanned, aircraft and other much Less capable aircraft. When did the A-10 mission become irrelevant, low tech and Brutish? Technology can help in amazing ways, that's why a true A-10 replacement would really benefit from the systems used on the f-35, pilotless aircraft, and other small payload, high altitude, bomb trucks that can't really get close to troops and combat on the ground.
 

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kcran567 said:
GTX said:
Triton said:
Perhaps because the A-10 replacement is still the F-35A?
Not just the F-35. The F-35 is jus one way of undertaking the roles traditionally performed by the A-10. Other platforms (e.g. F-16, F-15, F/A-18 etc) all contribute. As do larger platforms (e.g. B-1b, B-2 etc) as well as non manned platforms (various UAVs, guided missiles etc) and indeed non-air platforms altogether (artillery rounds etc etc). In a modern/future battlefield heavily laden with networked systems and the like the whole "network centric warfare" effect could take the lead here. Therefore, to take just one traditional A-10 role, that of CAS, technically an infantry unit in the field could call in for CAS support but get this satisfied using some combination of F-35s dropping ordnance, a MQ-9 firing missiles, a USMC unit launching HIMARS rockets or even potentially a naval platform firing rounds inland.

My point was that in the future, the old A-10 with big gun and Mk1 eyeball is just one way of undertaking said missions and arguably an outmoded means at that (even if it is sexy).
Triton said:
GTX said:
kcran567 said:
there is no true A-10 replacement on the horizon. No innovation, no balls.
If you are referring to something that requires use of a big gun and Mk1 eyeball as its main sensor (essentially what the A-10 is), then I would add "No need". The mission of the A-10 can be done in other ways.
Perhaps because the A-10 replacement is still the F-35A?
Funny, troops on the ground actually want the A-10 but we are force feeding the mission of the A-10 to the F-35, unmanned, aircraft and other much Less capable aircraft. When did the A-10 mission become irrelevant, low tech and Brutish? Technology can help in amazing ways, that's why a true A-10 replacement would really benefit from the systems used on the f-35, pilotless aircraft, and other small payload, high altitude, bomb trucks that can't really get close to troops and combat on the ground.
The point is that technological advances mean that (1) far less likely to get "close" and survive (and far less willingness to accept losses) and (2) far less need to get "close" due to advancements in targeting and weapons. The CAS role/ mission has hence evolved and many mindsets haven't kept up.
Hence in such discussions the A-10 becomes a symbol/ signal rather the aircraft it actualy is with its plus and minus points (perhaps more fairly "nice to have" rather than "must have" points) versus other components of the constellation/ combination of solutions that make up the CAS team of which the A-10 is a part.
Hope the A-10C continues in service as long as possible but the thinking that only an A-10 can fulfill the CAS role is misguided. The F-35 in combination with a whole load of other solutions will eventually replace the A-10 in this role and they will do it better (but differently).
 

GTX

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kaiserd said:
The F-35 in combination with a whole load of other solutions will eventually replace the A-10 in this role and they will do it better (but differently).
Exactly.

And by the way, when will people finally understand that the "Close" in Close Air Support actually refers to the fact that the enemy is close to the troops calling for support. It is not that the delivering system has to get close...
 

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kcran567 said:
When did the A-10 mission become irrelevant, low tech and Brutish?
When it was introduced, to be honest. Remember that the reason that the A-10 was built with so much redundancy and that titanium bathtub wasn't so it could keep fightin' when it was hit (and it would be hit, often, in any near-peer conflict), it was to get the pilot safely out of a major danger zone and either back to the airfield if lucky or somewhere that friendlies could pick said pilot up.
 

Triton

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GTX said:
kaiserd said:
The F-35 in combination with a whole load of other solutions will eventually replace the A-10 in this role and they will do it better (but differently).
Exactly.

And by the way, when will people finally understand that the "Close" in Close Air Support actually refers to the fact that the enemy is close to the troops calling for support. It is not that the delivering system has to get close...
But are counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and close air support missions in permissive environments a good use of a fifth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft with operating costs of $42,169 per hour or another high-end aircraft that costs tens-of-thousands of dollars to operate? Or do you want to use the very expensive high-end platforms for other missions and give the counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and close air support mission to a light attack aircraft that is cheaper to procure and operate?
 

GTX

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Triton said:
But are counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and close air support missions in permissive environments a good use of a fifth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft
I thought I made it clear that the F-35 is simply one potential system able to be used. It does not necessarily need to be used in all cases.
 

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Triton said:
Or do you want to use the very expensive high-end platforms for other missions and give the counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and close air support mission to a light attack aircraft that is cheaper to procure and operate?
Or you use (as it being used) the MQ-9 but in all probability enlisted men will be permitted to fly
it which will mean that fighter pilots who finished in the top half of their class on the T-6 II but
the bottom half of their class on the jet trainer will have nowhere to go aside from bombers
or transports and in all likelihood will leave the service.

Enter the OA-X: for retention and some combat utility in permissive.
 

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Sounds like someone needs to dust off the Rutan Ares (or a similar concept) to be able to offer anything truly adapted to the mission.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG9LlHcX8lg
 

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This was a terrain hugging airframe. Surely NOT something that is wanted today.
 

marauder2048

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cluttonfred said:
Sounds like someone needs to dust off the Rutan Ares (or a similar concept) to be able to offer anything truly adapted to the mission.
900 lbs of external payload? No thanks.
 

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GTX said:
If you are referring to something that requires use of a big gun and Mk1 eyeball as its main sensor (essentially what the A-10 is), then I would add "No need". The mission of the A-10 can be done in other ways.
Please elaborate. In what "other ways" can that mission be done?
 

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Jeb said:
When it was introduced, to be honest. Remember that the reason that the A-10 was built with so much redundancy and that titanium bathtub wasn't so it could keep fightin' when it was hit (and it would be hit, often, in any near-peer conflict), it was to get the pilot safely out of a major danger zone and either back to the airfield if lucky or somewhere that friendlies could pick said pilot up.
Half of A-10s hit by MANPADS in the Gulf War were lost. Evidently the concept of taking a hit needed some work, with attrition like that they would have evaporated against the thousands of MANPADs Warsaw Pact forces would have brought to bear in a European conflict.
 

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DefenseNews: In the fight against ISIS, Predators and Reapers prove close-air support bona-fides

"While the words “close-air support” bring to mind the venerable A-10 Warthog, unmanned Predator and Reaper drones are increasingly assuming that role in battles against the Islamic State group, particularly in constrained urban environments like that of Mosul."

“I think that is not a well understood piece of what we are doing and certainly something that commanders on the ground are asking us to do day in and day out, multiple times a day.”

::)

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/in-the-fight-against-isis-predators-and-reapers-prove-close-air-support-bona-fides
 

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It seems like just more of the USAF's anti-Warthog propaganda to me. The piece closely follows the same line the Air Force and other UAV proponents within the Armed Forces/DOD have been spouting for at least well over a decade. However, given how consistently their assertions and claims have fallen short of the mark in real life during that time, I would say their PR efforts are ringing more than a bit hollow at this stage.
 

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Grey Havoc said:
It seems like just more of the USAF's anti-Warthog propaganda to me. The piece closely follows the same line the Air Force and other UAV proponents within the Armed Forces/DOD have been spouting for at least well over a decade. However, given how consistently their assertions and claims have fallen short of the mark in real life during that time, I would say their PR efforts are ringing more than a bit hollow at this stage.
Therein lies the problem. The USAF has spent over 15 years now in operations against an adversary that basically has small arms for air defense. That's a long time to go without seeing what a real AD network can do against aircraft. Makes the current force mix seem entirely adequate across the board, because your A-10s can cue up basic gun runs all day long with minimal maneuvering and countermeasures.
 

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Grey Havoc said:
It seems like just more of the USAF's anti-Warthog propaganda to me. The piece closely follows the same line the Air Force and other UAV proponents within the Armed Forces/DOD have been spouting for at least well over a decade. However, given how consistently their assertions and claims have fallen short of the mark in real life during that time, I would say their PR efforts are ringing more than a bit hollow at this stage.
Yes a vast and insidious anti-Warthog propaganda campaign that includes unreserved
praise for the A-10 and detailed descriptions of what the A-10 is accomplishing and
what it brings.


http://www.airforcemag.com/DRArchive/Pages/2017/April%202017/April%2013%202017/The-A-10-Operations-Tempo-Against-ISIS.aspx
 

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Void said:
Jeb said:
When it was introduced, to be honest. Remember that the reason that the A-10 was built with so much redundancy and that titanium bathtub wasn't so it could keep fightin' when it was hit (and it would be hit, often, in any near-peer conflict), it was to get the pilot safely out of a major danger zone and either back to the airfield if lucky or somewhere that friendlies could pick said pilot up.
Half of A-10s hit by MANPADS in the Gulf War were lost. Evidently the concept of taking a hit needed some work, with attrition like that they would have evaporated against the thousands of MANPADs Warsaw Pact forces would have brought to bear in a European conflict.
What percentage of the other types were hit by MANPADS and survived? Was it more or less than the A-10? I am wondering if you just found a statistic online and are parroting it, or if you actually know what you're talking about.
 

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Airplane said:
Void said:
Half of A-10s hit by MANPADS in the Gulf War were lost. Evidently the concept of taking a hit needed some work, with attrition like that they would have evaporated against the thousands of MANPADs Warsaw Pact forces would have brought to bear in a European conflict.
What percentage of the other types were hit by MANPADS and survived? Was it more or less than the A-10? I am wondering if you just found a statistic online and are parroting it, or if you actually know what you're talking about.
The official statistical survey did not distinguish between losses due to the bigger, vehicle mounted IR SAMs (SA-9/SA-13) and MANPADS (SA-7/SA-14).

But apparently, subsequent analysis has shown that half of the A-10s downed by IR SAMs were downed by SA-13s.


This site is a compilation (with updates/clarifications)

http://www.rjlee.org/air/ds-aaloss/

of the official survey:

https://media.defense.gov/2010/Sep/27/2001329816/-1/-1/0/AFD-100927-065.pdf
 

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"The Air Force Needs More Than 300 Light Attack Aircraft—Now."
by Dave Foster
January 24, 2017

Source:
http://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/01/24/the_air_force_needs_more_than_300_light_attack_aircraftnow_110682.html


Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein agrees that Sen. John McCain’s recommendation for “300 low-cost, light-attack fighters” is a “great idea.” Analysts have noted several merits including stemming the decline in platform numbers, improving dwell times over target areas, lower flight hour costs, and more stick time for USAF pilots. These are good things. But the real issue is the substantial ongoing attrition of 4th-generation airframes that will only partially be mitigated by the light-attack fighters after they’ve arrived in inventory. That’s why we need them now.

The light-attack-fighter idea is indeed great, but it is still just a suggestion. It is also just a possible Air Force plan, which will thus not fully unburden Navy and Marine Corps tactical avaiation. Each service has its specialties, particularly in the missions and phasing for the early days of a new operation. However, history shows that once a war (usually a “small war”) matures to stasis over a number of years, each service is both expected and wants to participate, regardless of its “big war” roles, specialties, and tacit raison d’être. So, if the USAF of the future brings its low-cost, light attack fighters to the long war, we can expect that 4th-generation and probably 5th-generation Navy and Marine strike aircraft will be there too.

Following from the conventional wisdom that we are in a long war—as General Goldfein estimated, “we're 15 years into a long campaign in the Middle East”—we can plausibly estimate that tomorrow, next year, and perhaps ten years from now will be similar to today. What has been our recent level of effort?

The Department of Defense (DoD) has shown a relatively open kimono regarding its activities, at least at a high-level, in Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the campaign against ISIS. The DoD has been a little less transparent regarding ongoing operations in Afghanistan, and apparently only episodic operations in Libya. US fighters, bombers, and armed drones have operated in each of these theaters. Recently, Defense One estimated the number of U.S. airstrikes conducted in 2016 at over 26,000. Back in 2015, Senator John McCain asserted that only about 25 percent of our sorties resulted in airstrikes, a claim which at least one fact-checking source corroborated. By the military’s working definition, “a strike” means at least one aircraft employing one munition, but possible several aircraft employing several munitions, “in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative effect for that location.” To get to OIR targets in Syria and Iraq, we know that American aircraft often have fairly lengthy enroute flights to get from operating airbases in, for example, the Persian Gulf States or from aircraft carriers when the US Navy has one stationed in the Gulf. US combat aircraft also fly from Turkey. Without knowing the proportion of operations out of the various operating airfield, we can estimate that the round trip flight times to target areas in northern Iraq and Syria are about five to seven hours from the Gulf and two to four hours from Turkey.

Though this is all ambiguous, we can make some sense from the information above, and make a few reasonable assumptions:

Our tomorrow in the long war, through the year 2022 for example, will be much like today.
Most of the aircraft performing strikes are 4th-generation tactical aircraft: A-10s, AV-8Bs, F-15s, F-16s, and F-18s. Let’s assume that 75 percent of the strikes are from tactical aviation and the rest are from armed drones, gunships, F-22s, and bombers.
25 percent of the US strikes are sourced from Turkish airfields and 75 percent from the Gulf, for a very approximate average sortie duration of 4 hours.
Only about 25 percent of overall sorties result in an airstrike. Many of the military’s 4th-generation fighters and attack aircraft have or are undergoing service life extensions to enable them to serve through 10,000 or more flight hours.

We can then undertake some rough calculations to provide a ball-park figure for 4th-generation fighter hours:

26,000 total sorties x 75% in tactical aviation x 4 flight hours/sortie x 4 sorties/strike = 312,000 annual flight hours of tactical aviation.

That number represents the service lives of about 31 fighters. Unless all these campaigns wrap up soon, expect that the US will have about 150 fewer 4th-generation fighters in inventory by end of 2022. These are very rough calculations, so if you don’t like them, please run your own. The services certainly have, and they will continue to focus on aircraft service lives and numbers.

McCain's plan brings 200 light-attack-fighters into the Air Force's inventory by 2022 to supplement the 228 F-35As it will receive by then. But as we’ve just estimated, the services could lose about 150 4th-generation fighters by then. The majority of these will be USAF jets, simply given the proportion in service with each service. McCain's report notes that “the Air Force has divested over 400 combat fighters in the last five years” and can currently muster fewer “combat-coded fighters” than called for in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. Further, the McCain report calls the USAF’s intention to buy 1,763 F-35As “unrealistic,” an issue that I’ve commented on previously.

McCain recommendation for the not-new, low-end, light-attack-fighter idea is welcome, and Air Force chief's endorsement is encouraging. Addressing the long war with lower operating-cost solutions and keeping precision guided munitions inventories up (given our substantial expenditures) are sound measures. But it has been a good while since we went “to war with the Army we have.” Though this is water under the bridge, we have since used up a significant amount of tactical aviation flight hours in the past fifteen years. McCain’s recommendation and their endorsement by the Air Force and defense analysts are probably too little too late. If buying 1,763 aircraft is indeed “unrealistic,” the USAF may want more than 300 low-end, light-attack-fighters for the long war, and it should want to get them sooner and at a greater rate than 40 annually thru 2022. Similar problems remain unaddressed for the Navy and the Marine Corps.

Congress and the services should be more aggressive sooner to stanch their attrition of tactical aircraft by shifting the comparatively low-threat, long war air campaigns from the wasting jet fighter fleets to more appropriate airframes. Otherwise, what will our tactical air arms look like in 2030 at the going rate?
 

Triton

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Are helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft less vulnerable to the current generation of MANPADS than fixed-wing light attack aircraft?
 

marauder2048

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Triton said:
"The Air Force Needs More Than 300 Light Attack Aircraft—Now."
by Dave Foster
January 24, 2017

Source:
http://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/01/24/the_air_force_needs_more_than_300_light_attack_aircraftnow_110682.html

McCain recommendation for the not-new, low-end, light-attack-fighter idea is welcome, and Air Force chief's endorsement is encouraging. Addressing the long war with lower operating-cost solutions and keeping precision guided munitions inventories up (given our substantial expenditures) are sound measures.
Already overtaken by events: OA-X must be capable of employing PGMs.
In fact, all of the CAS loadouts include PGMs.
 

AeroFranz

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Triton said:
Are helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft less vulnerable to the current generation of MANPADS than fixed-wing light attack aircraft?
My guess is there are larger vulnerable areas in helos and tiltrotors than in fixed wing aircraft (long transmissions, tail rotors, cross-shafts, etc.). The former are more likely to be twin-engined though...
 

marauder2048

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AeroFranz said:
Triton said:
Are helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft less vulnerable to the current generation of MANPADS than fixed-wing light attack aircraft?
My guess is there are larger vulnerable areas in helos and tiltrotors than in fixed wing aircraft (long transmissions, tail rotors, cross-shafts, etc.). The former are more likely to be twin-engined though...
Apache and the V-22 both incorporate devices and techniques that attempt to reduce their IR signature with
upgrades in the pipeline. They both have or will have DIRCM.

The fixed-wing light attack aircrat don't seem to have these features yet but can use their speed and altitude to
employ PGMs (e.g. GBUs) outside of MANPADS range.
 

Jeb

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AeroFranz said:
Triton said:
Are helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft less vulnerable to the current generation of MANPADS than fixed-wing light attack aircraft?
My guess is there are larger vulnerable areas in helos and tiltrotors than in fixed wing aircraft (long transmissions, tail rotors, cross-shafts, etc.). The former are more likely to be twin-engined though...
Not to mention the overall speed and energy maneuver advantages that fixed wings convey.

I mean, if you get caught with your pants down by a SA-14 at too-close range, you're going to be in trouble, but some of that depends on where the SAM sees your heat. That's why Harriers turned out to be particularly vulnerable to IR seekers...they tended to hit at midbody where the hot exhaust nozzles were. That's also why the turboprop light attack candidates are going to have a tougher row to hoe...their turbine exhausts sit right between the propeller disc and the cockpit, and that's the last place you want a warhead to pop off. Broncos at least exhaust outboard of the engine nacelles.
 
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