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Continuing relevance of the A-10 Warthog today and tomorrow?

Triton

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"Opinion: Close Air Support Debate Needs Strategic Context"
by Richard Aboulafia

Aug 25, 2016

Critics of counterinsurgency say it represents the triumph of tactics over strategy. Looking at the Air Force’s mooted OA-X and A-X2 procurement programs, and the A-10 retirement debate, one can see exactly the same issues in play. For close air support (CAS), there is no denying that a dedicated platform such as the A-10, or its proposed replacement, the AX-2, is best. Best in battlefield terms, that is. If a ground force is taking heavy fire from an enemy (one that has no air cover ...
Source:
http://aviationweek.com/defense/opinion-close-air-support-debate-needs-strategic-context
 

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How about we just bring these back into production and deliver from a fast LO mover at altitude? Why let the situation get to the point of being close enough to throw rocks at each other? Wipe 'em out before it gets to that point of needing a 30mm canon with pinpoint precision, and at low altitude vulnerable to everything from AAA to manpads?
 

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Airplane said:
How about we just bring these back into production and deliver from a fast LO mover at altitude? Why let the situation get to the point of being close enough to throw rocks at each other? Wipe 'em out before it gets to that point of needing a 30mm canon with pinpoint precision, and at low altitude vulnerable to everything from AAA to manpads?
Good luck preventing close engagements from happening in the first place. And fuel-air explosives can't be used in the close vicinity of friendlies.
 

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"GAO: Dumping the A-10 jet could cost the military in missions besides close-air support"
by Dan Lamothe August 25 at 10:44 AM

Source:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/08/25/gao-dumping-the-a-10-jet-could-cost-the-military-in-missions-besides-close-air-support/

But the A-10 also carries out other missions that are not as often connected to the long-running debate in the military and on Capitol Hill about whether the service should eliminate the plane to save money, the report noted.

One of them is a specific kind of combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) mission known as “CSAR-Sandy,” in which two A-10 pilots fly in tandem and coordinate the rescue of downed U.S. troops using helicopters and other planes while suppressing enemy forces. The GAO found that the Air Force is well suited to the role because it can loiter over a battlefield longer than quicker fighter jets, has forward-firing weapons and can fly low to the ground.

“The Air Force assessed the feasibility of using F-16s or F-15Es for the CSAR-Sandy mission and concluded aircrews could not conduct both the training necessary for this mission and the training required for their existing missions,” the GAO found. “The assessment, completed in September 2015, recommended that F-15Es or F-16s should not be tasked with the Sandy role without adequate training and also noted that the aircraft would require a number of upgrades for the CSAR-Sandy mission.”

Another mission carried out by the A-10 is Forward Air Controller (Airborne), or FAC(A). It calls for A-10 pilots to coordinate airstrikes from other planes while flying, especially when ground troops known as joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs), who call in airstrikes, are not available. The FAC(A) mission is carried out from various aircraft, but the GAO noted that Air Force training requirements for FAC(A) are higher for A-10 pilots than those flying other planes.

“A-10 FAC(A)s are required to attain mission proficiency while F-16 FAC(A)s and future F-35 are only required to have familiarity with the mission,” the report said. “Further, the A-10 community spends significantly more effort developing and retaining FAC(A) expertise.”

The GAO recommended that the Air Force “fully identify mission gaps, risks, and mitigation strategies” in assessing the future of the A-10. Service leaders at one time planned to retire all A-10s by 2018, but the effort was blocked by Congress for two years and the service ultimately shifted gears after the plane showed usefulness in carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a blunt response included with the GAO report that the service disagrees that it has not provided the necessary information to identify gaps in capability and capacity created by the retirement of the A-10. The report, she said, does not note that the Air Force studied the plan as a part of developing its 2015 budget and found that it was “the most acceptable strategy” given the variety of missions the Air Force must carry out. The service also detailed the close-air support mission in a report to Congress, she added.

“The Air Force takes exception to the assertion that it made the decision to divest the A-10 without knowledge or understanding of the associated risk and capability gaps,” James wrote. Additional reasons are provided in a version of the GAO report that is classified, she added....
 

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NUSNA_Moebius said:
Airplane said:
How about we just bring these back into production and deliver from a fast LO mover at altitude? Why let the situation get to the point of being close enough to throw rocks at each other? Wipe 'em out before it gets to that point of needing a 30mm canon with pinpoint precision, and at low altitude vulnerable to everything from AAA to manpads?
Good luck preventing close engagements from happening in the first place. And fuel-air explosives can't be used in the close vicinity of friendlies.
Trust me, I know about the blast radius. it's a awesome weapon. Kill 'em all before they're too close to US soldiers. Shock and awe is a handful of Strike Eagles or F-35s blanketing a hostile area with multiple timed deliveries of these of weapons. Use enough of these weapons and everyone gives up. You don't want to allow conflicts to develop where CAS becomes inevitable. Fight CAS by minimizing the odds of having to fight CAS. Win the war fast with overwhelming firepower.

For CAS you're talking about dropping bombs or strafing runs with bullets. The odds of hitting enemy soldiers with bullets is nil from an aircraft with a fixed cannon traveling 300kts. Bullets are good for vehicles and fixed positions. Which means you're using bombs to deal with the human targets - bombs with blast radii that limit their use because of not wanting to kill friendlies.

The odds of the USAF getting a replacement A-10 are zero. If there were money it would be better spent on better weapons than a single purpose asset that can't protect itself from a passing 25 year old Mig or Sukhoi.
 

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Triton said:
"GAO: Dumping the A-10 jet could cost the military in missions besides close-air support"
by Dan Lamothe August 25 at 10:44 AM

Source:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/08/25/gao-dumping-the-a-10-jet-could-cost-the-military-in-missions-besides-close-air-support/

But the A-10 also carries out other missions that are not as often connected to the long-running debate in the military and on Capitol Hill about whether the service should eliminate the plane to save money, the report noted.

One of them is a specific kind of combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) mission known as “CSAR-Sandy,” in which two A-10 pilots fly in tandem and coordinate the rescue of downed U.S. troops using helicopters and other planes while suppressing enemy forces. The GAO found that the Air Force is well suited to the role because it can loiter over a battlefield longer than quicker fighter jets, has forward-firing weapons and can fly low to the ground.

“The Air Force assessed the feasibility of using F-16s or F-15Es for the CSAR-Sandy mission and concluded aircrews could not conduct both the training necessary for this mission and the training required for their existing missions,” the GAO found. “The assessment, completed in September 2015, recommended that F-15Es or F-16s should not be tasked with the Sandy role without adequate training and also noted that the aircraft would require a number of upgrades for the CSAR-Sandy mission.”
The larger issue here is that CV-22, an ITEP equipped CRH-60 and FVL (medium) have combat radii at least 1.5 - 2x what A-10 was designed to cover with any time on station.

It should be pointed out too that the A-10 had a 100% failure rate as a CSAR escort over the former Yugoslavia.
 

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The DSB Summer 2016 Study Autonomyis wrong in claiming (pg 79) that ‘cost and manpower requirements make dedicating a UAS to each small tactical unit infeasible’. This while admitting 'the time required to request UAS support and subsequently vector to an engagement is too long to be useful in many engagements.'

Afghan ops based reality TV programs display how small units were surrounded and waiting to be overrun by the tailban until they launched their Raven and the adversary knows it is there. Hezbollah has used a crude harness to arm small drones with bomblets and drop them on Syrian rebels.

It was assessed in the early 2000s that future SCUD hunting SOF tms would need their own armed MUAS in order to be effective over a large enough area to be effective.

Small units will need to protect themselves from armed drones w armed drones. All this emphasis on Cyber tms at BDE & Below, ought to be thinking about UAS tms Company & Below just as much.

Small UAS swarms including many ground launched from small units are the only means for survivable CAS within High Intensity Conflict (HIC) IADS including dense counter-PGM/Active Protection System (APS) networks mounted on individual vehicles. These advanced IADS networks render all but the most survivable standoff UAS launching aircraft the only aircraft able to survive more than one sortie and return.

Survivable CAS might look like the attached.
(Minus the low endurance, tube and wing and slow, prop driven Predator (clay pigeon) and a low density prop driven AC-130 quite vulnerable Gunship more like jet speed response craft such as the heralded 'flying Coke bottle machine' newt generation gunship or the FA-XX.
 

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marauder2048

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jsport said:
Future of CAS should look more like this. Minus the tube and wing Predator (clay pigeon) and low density asset and also quite vulnerable Gunship.
You can't casually throw out major depicted elements and still claim it meets your grand, sweeping vision for the future of CAS.
 

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marauder2048 said:
jsport said:
Future of CAS should look more like this. Minus the tube and wing Predator (clay pigeon) and low density asset and also quite vulnerable Gunship.
You can't casually throw out major depicted elements and still claim it meets your grand, sweeping vision for the future of CAS.
yes plenty o room for some innovation like the 'coke bottle machine' standoff plane and what kind of internal payload FA-XX needs especially when it should already be full of DEW :D, but the current launchers ...
 

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WASHINGTON — The Air Force is considering a near-term buy of light attack aircraft to help relieve mounting operations costs, ameliorate a fighter pilot shortage and improve readiness, a top general told Defense News in an exclusive interview.

Lt. Gen. James M. "Mike" Holmes, the service’s deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, is floating a number of options to Air Force leaders, including a potential flight demonstration of inexpensive, off-the-shelf tactical airplanes that could occur as early as spring 2017.

Holmes stressed that a new light attack craft, which has been termed OA-X, would not replace the A-10 Warthog fleet. Instead, it would be a supplement to the Warthog that would give combatant commanders a low-cost option for battling the violent extremist groups in light of the high operations and maintenance costs associated with the A-10 and various fighter jets currently doing that job.
http://www.defensenews.com/articles/air-force-mulls-fly-off-for-possible-light-attack-aircraft-buy
 

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Weird that this article is all over the place in terms of options. Would a twin-engine jet like the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master or even the Textron AirLand Scorpion be that much more economical to operate than an A-10 or F-15? It seems to me that anything more elaborate than a single turboprop or a small single turbofan is just going to creep back up to much the same cost per hour. It also seems like there are plenty of old airframes out there available for conversion. What about taking a bunch of mothballed F-16s and giving them non-afterburning turbofans, new electronics, and extra armor?
 

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Dismounted and mounted units will need to protect themselves from armed drones w/ armed drones they will also require the responsiveness of their own organic drones for CAS. Likewise, Small UAS swarms including many ground launched from small units are the only means for survivable CAS within High Intensity Conflict (HIC) IADS which will include dense counter-PGM/Active Protection System (APS) networks mounted on individual vehicles. Advanced IADS networks render all but the most survivable standoff UAS launching aircraft like a two engine FA-XX the only aircraft able to survive more than one sortie and return.

See sept 3 206 posting on this thread for an early depiction
 

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"Air Force Chooses AT-6, A-29 for Secondary Light Attack Experiment"
Military.com 2 Feb 2018 By Oriana Pawlyk

Source:
https://www.military.com/dodbuzz/2018/02/02/air-force-chooses-6-29-secondary-light-attack-experiment.html

The Air Force has selected two aircraft in its "light attack experiment" to undergo more demonstration fly-offs, among other exercises, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

The service intends to test the Textron Aviation AT-6 Wolverine and the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano from May to July 2018 at the base, it said in a release Friday.

The Air Force said the testing will not include a combat demonstration or an opportunity to test the aircraft overseas in a combat scenario.

"Rather than do a combat demonstration, we have decided to work closely with industry to experiment with maintenance, data networking and sensors with the two most promising light attack aircraft -- the AT-6 Wolverine and the A-29 Super Tucano," said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. "This will let us gather the data needed for a rapid procurement."
 

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This is probably sensible given that the MANPADS environment in the Middle East doesn't appear to be improving.
 

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cluttonfred said:
Weird that this article is all over the place in terms of options. Would a twin-engine jet like the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master or even the Textron AirLand Scorpion be that much more economical to operate than an A-10 or F-15? It seems to me that anything more elaborate than a single turboprop or a small single turbofan is just going to creep back up to much the same cost per hour. It also seems like there are plenty of old airframes out there available for conversion. What about taking a bunch of mothballed F-16s and giving them non-afterburning turbofans, new electronics, and extra armor?
Yes. and why not also add in some counter measures to manpad's when available. Seems better than Super Tucano and the like.
 

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It is very strange to me that they chose two such similar options. You would think that a relatively low-cost, single-engine turbofan design like the M345 or a BAE Hawk would have been included to really explore the advantages/disadvantages of the single-turboprop designs.

kcran567 said:
cluttonfred said:
Weird that this article is all over the place in terms of options. Would a twin-engine jet like the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master or even the Textron AirLand Scorpion be that much more economical to operate than an A-10 or F-15? It seems to me that anything more elaborate than a single turboprop or a small single turbofan is just going to creep back up to much the same cost per hour. It also seems like there are plenty of old airframes out there available for conversion. What about taking a bunch of mothballed F-16s and giving them non-afterburning turbofans, new electronics, and extra armor?
Yes. and why not also add in some counter measures to manpad's when available. Seems better than Super Tucano and the like.
 

marauder2048

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cluttonfred said:
It is very strange to me that they chose two such similar options. You would think that a relatively low-cost, single-engine turbofan design like the M345 or a BAE Hawk would have been included to really explore the advantages/disadvantages of the single-turboprop designs.
Why didn't their respective manufacturers respond to the ITP?
 

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"US Air Force kills combat demo for light attack aircraft"
By: Valerie Insinna

February 02, 2018

Source:
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2018/02/02/us-air-force-kills-combat-demo-for-light-attack-aircraft/

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force will not be proceeding with a combat demonstration for its light attack aircraft, but an eventual program of record has become the assumed outcome of further experimentation planned for two turboprop planes.

The new experiments, planned for May to July 2018 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, narrow the field to Textron Aviation’s AT-6 Wolverine and the A-29 Super Tucano made by Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer — cutting the Textron Scorpion and L-3 Technologies’ AT-802L Longsword from further competition.

“Rather than do a combat demonstration, we have decided to work closely with industry to experiment with maintenance, data networking and sensors with the two most promising light attack aircraft — the AT-6 Wolverine and the A-29 Super Tucano,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said. “This will let us gather the data needed for a rapid procurement.”

The Air Force announced in 2016 that it was considering holding a flight demo with light attack planes the following year. The hope, Air Combat Command head Gen. Mike Holmes told Defense News then, was to better understand whether inexpensive, off-the-shelf aircraft could fill some of the service’s close-air support requirements in the Middle East at a cheaper operating cost than combat aircraft like the A-10 or F-16.

Buying several hundred light attack aircraft would also bring with it several other advantages, proponents of the strategy argued. For one, having more aircraft in its inventory would increase its capacity, allowing it to train more pilots per year.

In addition, buying a low-cost, easy-to-use plane would also “bolster our interoperability,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said in a statement. This in turn would give the service an opportunity to partner with international countries who might not be able to afford a more pricey jet like the F-35 or F-15.

After flying in to see the first set of light attack experiments at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Air Force leaders said they believed a combat demonstration would be the next step. However, the service now expects to be able to get the information for a future rapid acquisition of light attack aircraft without having to bring the two remaining competitors to the Middle East.

“The Air Force is gathering enough decision-quality data through experimentation to support rigorous light attack aircraft assessments along with rapid procurement/fielding program feasibility reviews,” said Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Emily Grabowski. “We’re finalizing requirements documentation and developing an acquisition strategy.”

Networking and future interoperability with partner forces will be a key part of the demos at Davis-Monthan. “The Air Force will also experiment with rapidly building and operating an exportable, affordable network to enable aircraft to communicate with joint and multi-national forces, as well as command-and-control nodes,” the service noted in a statement.

It also plans on inviting international partners to observe the light attack experiment’s next phase, it said. Five countries, including Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Paraguay, watched the last round.

Other focuses of the future experiments will include logistics and maintenance requirements, weapons and sensor issues, and training syllabus validity, it said.

However, the service has not finalized how it will pay for the new round of experiments or set a timeline for a future program of record.

“We are working a cost estimate for the next phase of experimentation, but we need to work with our industry partners to finalize the cost estimate. At this time, we expect to use current experimentation funding for the stateside experiment,” Grabowski said.
 

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kcran567 said:
cluttonfred said:
Weird that this article is all over the place in terms of options. Would a twin-engine jet like the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master or even the Textron AirLand Scorpion be that much more economical to operate than an A-10 or F-15? It seems to me that anything more elaborate than a single turboprop or a small single turbofan is just going to creep back up to much the same cost per hour. It also seems like there are plenty of old airframes out there available for conversion. What about taking a bunch of mothballed F-16s and giving them non-afterburning turbofans, new electronics, and extra armor?
Yes. and why not also add in some counter measures to manpad's when available. Seems better than Super Tucano and the like.
There are also quite a lot of A-7's about and they would seem to be perfect for the job. As long as an integrated mission is used there is no reason why those airframes should not be able to preform the role extremely well supporting the fifth and sixth gen units.
 

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cluttonfred said:
It is very strange to me that they chose two such similar options. You would think that a relatively low-cost, single-engine turbofan design like the M345 or a BAE Hawk would have been included to really explore the advantages/disadvantages of the single-turboprop designs.
Probably driven by cost with the turboprops presumably of lower operating/acquisition costs.
 

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Foo Fighter said:
kcran567 said:
cluttonfred said:
Weird that this article is all over the place in terms of options. Would a twin-engine jet like the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master or even the Textron AirLand Scorpion be that much more economical to operate than an A-10 or F-15? It seems to me that anything more elaborate than a single turboprop or a small single turbofan is just going to creep back up to much the same cost per hour. It also seems like there are plenty of old airframes out there available for conversion. What about taking a bunch of mothballed F-16s and giving them non-afterburning turbofans, new electronics, and extra armor?
Yes. and why not also add in some counter measures to manpad's when available. Seems better than Super Tucano and the like.
There are also quite a lot of A-7's about and they would seem to be perfect for the job. As long as an integrated mission is used there is no reason why those airframes should not be able to preform the role extremely well supporting the fifth and sixth gen units.
Hey, the Greeks retired their A-7s in 2014. How used were the airframes, that's another matter.
 

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"Yes, Really, Destroy ISIS With Turboprop Light Attack Aircraft"
by Michael W. Pietrucha

December 9, 2015

Source:
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/yes-really-destroy-isis-turboprop-light-attack-aircraft-14560
 

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...apparently harder to do when they are being supplied with MANPADs, no?
 

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Archibald said:
Foo Fighter said:
kcran567 said:
cluttonfred said:
Weird that this article is all over the place in terms of options. Would a twin-engine jet like the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master or even the Textron AirLand Scorpion be that much more economical to operate than an A-10 or F-15? It seems to me that anything more elaborate than a single turboprop or a small single turbofan is just going to creep back up to much the same cost per hour. It also seems like there are plenty of old airframes out there available for conversion. What about taking a bunch of mothballed F-16s and giving them non-afterburning turbofans, new electronics, and extra armor?
There are apparently, a lot of A-7's in the boneyard. How used are those airframes? Could they be brought up to the standard of the last proposed variant?

Yes. and why not also add in some counter measures to manpad's when available. Seems better than Super Tucano and the like.
There are also quite a lot of A-7's about and they would seem to be perfect for the job. As long as an integrated mission is used there is no reason why those airframes should not be able to preform the role extremely well supporting the fifth and sixth gen units.
Hey, the Greeks retired their A-7s in 2014. How used were the airframes, that's another matter.
 

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Avimimus said:
...apparently harder to do when they are being supplied with MANPADs, no?
You are spot on: the fact that both events were coincident should raise the alarm that debating, theorizing and being "flying over there" are definitively different things.

In the end, we might still remain optimistic for the Scorpion: the parting of the program will help alleviate its inherent drawbacks in short field operations and beam a light on what it does exclusively: sensing from a safe alt at range with a serious payload for any target of opportunity; and that for whatever country you are (COTS).

The very specialized requirements of dirt strip operation could enclose the program in a limited supplied quantity fleet of turboprops far from the initial objectives. Commonality should then logically favor Textron.
 

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Avimimus said:
...apparently harder to do when they are being supplied with MANPADs, no?
AFAIK, the initial experiment only evaluated missile warning capability analytically.
Empirically, the MANPADS environment hasn't improved; the recent loss of an Su-25 + pilot
being yet more tragic evidence.

IMHO, the main utility of the light attack aircraft is in high-altitude dive bombing + Low/high-angle strafing
which MQ-9 et al. can't do reliably because of comms latency.

If the MANPADS threat precludes you from routinely doing the above then
you are probably better off with either the attritable MQ-9 or to elaborate on what
TomcatViP said above: Scorpion which can economically cruise above the typical
MANPADS ceiling but can dash for weapons employment.

I've yet to be convinced that you can actually sustain austere airfield operations
without regular appeal to fairly costly military fixed-wing and helicopter transports.
 

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Shouldn't DIRCM provide near-immunity to the vast majority of MANPADS out there? That could give the A-10 and a light attack aircraft a new lease on life in these low-intensity operations.

I love the A-7 but I can't imagine seeing it come back in any form. In a lot of respects the F-35 is sort of a modern A-7 anyway and you don't want to threaten funding for the planned buy of those.
 

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Getting spherical DIRCM coverage on the more agile platforms has been a challenge.

What you might see is sort of an escort DIRCM scheme where one of the elements
flies in a profile such that its hemispherical DIRCM can cover the element conducting
the strafe/dive-bomb.
 

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If we are talking about ground-launched MANPADS, wouldn't hemispherical coverage downward and perhaps canted a little towards the rear be more than enough in most scenarios?
 

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marauder2048 said:
Getting spherical DIRCM coverage on the more agile platforms has been a challenge.

What you might see is sort of an escort DIRCM scheme where one of the elements
flies in a profile such that its hemispherical DIRCM can cover the element conducting
the strafe/dive-bomb.

Need MAWS as well, no?
 

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BRRRTTTT!!!!!


Published on Feb 8, 2018

A U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt II conducts a strike on a Taliban vehicle fleeing the scene of an attack in Kandahar province on January 24, 2018. The insurgents in the vehicle were armed with a DShK heavy machine gun, which they had been using to attack the Afghan people.

https://youtu.be/AJX4j0TDiEE
 

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Watch an A-10 Thunderbolt II Put Four Cannon Rounds on Target with Amazing Precision
Feb 08 2018 - 0 Comments
By Tom Demerly

Source:
https://theaviationist.com/2018/02/08/watch-an-a-10-thunderbolt-ii-put-four-cannon-rounds-on-target-with-amazing-precision/
 

Triton

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JFC Fuller said:
DIRCM doesn't work without a high-end MAWS to cue it.
A-29 Super Tucano has:

Crew survivability is ensured through armor protection and state-of-the-art provisions such as MAWS (Missile Approach Warning System) and RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) in addition to chaff and flare dispensers.
Source:
http://www.embraerds.com/super_tucano.html
 

SpudmanWP

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Triton said:
BRRRTTTT!!!!!
Meh...

A Hellfire would have done a better job without the potential collateral damage.

APKWS2 would be better still.
 

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"The Air Force Is Re-Winging A-10s After All"

More than a third of the service’s Warthogs risked retirement without new wings.
By Kyle Mizokami
Jan 29, 2018

Source:
https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a15914932/the-air-force-is-re-winging-a-10s-after-all/

It's official: The U.S. Air Force will buy new wings for aging A-10 Warthogs that risked a one way trip to the boneyard. The Air Force has made clear its intention to keep the A-10 flying after concerns surfaced that the service was taking advantage of the issue to get rid of the iconic close air support plane.

Earlier this month, a Pentagon official in charge of the A-10 program announced an effort to re-wing 110 of the jets “was not going to happen.” Of the 280 A-10s still in U.S. Air Force service, 173 have received new wings to keep them flying into the 2030s. The original re-winging contract with Boeing was for 242 sets of wings, but the contract ended when it was no longer cost-effective for the company, and the Boeing production line is closing later this year.

That left at least 110 A-10s high and dry without new wings, a state that threatened to ground them for good unless a solution was found, reducing the number of A-10 squadrons from nine to six. The Air Force, focused on getting the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter up and running, didn’t include a new wing contract it its 2018 budget. Congress, however added funding a new wing assembly line and four new wings to get it warmed up.

Now, the Air Force has committed to buying more wings. According to DoDBuzz General Mike Holmes, the head of the Air Force’s Air Combat Command, announced last week at a Washington D.C. think tank that the service will buy more wings beyond the initial four. Exactly how many wings will “depend on a Department of Defense decision and (the Air Force’s) work with Congress”.

The U.S. Air Force has tried to retire the A-10 since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, allocating its mission to the F-16, and now the F-35A. Retiring the A-10 would free up $4 billion over five years, enough to fund about 44 F-35As, as well as free up nine squadrons of personnel who could be reassigned to other projects. The A-10’s popularity with the public, ground troops who received support in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Congress have repeatedly saved it from an early retirement.

Critics outside the service believe that the F-35A is ill-suited to replace the A-10, and that no other plane has the firepower, protection and performance characteristics that make it a viable replacement. The F-35A lacks the GAU-8/A 30-millimeter gun for close air support missions, the large number of hardpoints for carrying a variety of ordnance, and the armor and redundant systems to keep it flying after a hit.

Read more at DoDBuzz.
 

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"Air Force Searching for New Company to Re-Wing A-10s"
Military.com 25 Jan 2018 By Oriana Pawlyk

Source:
https://www.military.com/dodbuzz/2018/01/25/air-force-searching-new-company-re-wing-10s.html

The U.S. Air Force is searching for a new company to rebuild wings on the A-10 ground-attack plane after ending an arrangement with Boeing Co., officials said.

The service plans to launch a new competition for the re-winging work and award a contract sometime after Congress appropriates full-year funding for fiscal 2018, which began Oct. 1, they said. (The government is currently running on a short-term funding measure known as a continuing resolution, which lasts through Feb. 8.)

During a speech on Thursday in Washington, D.C., Gen. Mike Holmes, the head of Air Combat Command, touched on the contract with Boeing and the planned future deal.

"The previous contract that we had was with Boeing, and it kind of came to the end of its life for cost and for other reasons," he said. "It was a contract that was no longer cost-effective for Boeing to produce wings under, and there were options there that we weren't sure where we were going to go, and so now we're working through the process of getting another contract."

When contacted by Military.com for additional details, Ann Stefanek, a spokeswoman for the Air Force at the Pentagon, confirmed the planned contract will be "a new and open competition."

Boeing has been upgrading A-10 wings for the Air Force since June 2007, according to Cassaundra Bantly, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based company. The contract calls for replacing up to 242 sets of wings, and the company has so far received orders to replace 173, she said.

"Boeing stands ready with a demonstrated understanding of the technical data package, tooling, supply chain, and manufacturing techniques to offer the lowest risk option and quickest timeline for additional wings for the A-10 Warthog," Bantly said in an email.

She added, "The ordering period on the current contract has expired, so the U.S. Air Force is working on an acquisition strategy for more wings. Boeing would welcome a follow-on effort for additional A-10 wings.

"We’re currently in the process of delivering the remaining wings on our contract," Bantly said.

During a briefing at the Brookings Institution, Holmes said the Air Force requested funding in the fiscal 2018 budget to continue rebuilding wings on the A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as the Warthog. The aircraft, popular among ground troops though a budget target for previous leaders, recently returned to Afghanistan to conduct close air support missions.

Stefanek recently told Military.com the Air Force plans to use $103 million authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policy goals and spending limits for the fiscal year, to award a contract for the A-10 work, establish a new wing production line and produce four additional wings.

That work "is all that money funds," she told Military.com last week.

Once the Air Force receives the funding, the competition can be announced. Whichever defense contractor wins the contract will pay for the startup to include four sets of new wings.

However, because the wings will be considered a "new start" program, the work can't begin under a continuing resolution -- the program is dependent on the fiscal 2018 and succeeding 2019 appropriations.

"In the [FY]19 program that we're working, we also buy more wings," Holmes said.

With a new contract, like "all new contracts" the first set of wings will be expensive as engineers work through the design phase, Holmes said, referring to working through the production line kinks that come at the start of programs.

How many more A-10s will get new wings still remains in limbo.

Air Force officials have said the service can commit to maintaining wings for six of its nine A-10 combat squadrons through roughly 2030.

"As far as exactly how many of the 280 or so A-10s that we have that we'll maintain forever, I'm not sure, that'll depend on a Department of Defense decision and our work with Congress," Holmes said.

On the exact squadron number, he clarified, "It's not a decision that we have to make right away. It'll depend on what we have, what we need and what's useful on the battlefield year-to-year as we go through it."

Of the 281 A-10s currently in the inventory, 173 have already been outfitted or are in the process of being outfitted with new wings (though one of the newly re-winged planes was destroyed in a crash), Stefanek said. That leaves 109 aircraft remaining in the inventory still slated to receive the upgrades, she said.

The service has struggled with its message on how it plans to keep the fleet flying since the aircraft's retirement was delayed until at least 2022.

Facing financial pressure, the Air Force -- driven by spending caps known as sequestration -- made multiple attempts in recent years to retire the Warthog to save an estimated $4 billion over five years and to free up maintainers for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the stealthy fifth-generation fighter jet designed to replace the A-10 and legacy fighters.

Holmes on Thursday added that as more F-35 amass themselves across U.S. bases, "I won't be able to just add those on top of the [fighter] squadrons that I have."

The service is looking to grow its fighter fleet to stay competitive against near-peer threats such as Russia and China. To do so, it believes it needs to increase its number of fighter squadrons from 55 to 60.

But that means it needs a variety of aircraft to sustain the fight, not just a regurgitation of old planes. Whether this means the Air Force is still weighing retiring its F-15C/D fleet sometime in the mid-2020s is unclear. Holmes did not speak to specific aircraft fleets when addressing fighter requirements.

"We'll have to make some decisions" of what kind of aircraft to move or divest, he said.

Preferred basing for F-35 bases is old F-16 Fighting Falcon bases, he said. The Air Force has been moving Vipers around various bases or into new training units since the F-35 has come online.

-- Editor's note: This story was updated to add comments from the Boeing spokeswoman beginning in the sixth paragraph.
 

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SpudmanWP said:
Triton said:
BRRRTTTT!!!!!
Meh...

A Hellfire would have done a better job without the potential collateral damage.

APKWS2 would be better still.
AGM-144 Hellfire costs $117,000 each (FY 2017). The cost of 1,350 rounds (full load) on the A-10 for the GAU-8 is $135,000 (2014).
 

SpudmanWP

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An AGM-144 Hellfire costs $117,000 (FY 2017).
Which is why I said that APKWS2 would have been better but their introduction is rather slow.
 

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Would like to see something like the Sr-10 with a 25mm Bushmaster cannon and 4 Hellfire. Some mission avionics, add some light armor and drcm countermeasures...better than a Tucano.

Better yet, Keep the A-10!!!
 

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Triton said:
Watch an A-10 Thunderbolt II Put Four Cannon Rounds on Target with Amazing Precision
Feb 08 2018 - 0 Comments
By Tom Demerly

Source:
https://theaviationist.com/2018/02/08/watch-an-a-10-thunderbolt-ii-put-four-cannon-rounds-on-target-with-amazing-precision/
Two 30MM cannon shells in the passenger area would have left quite the mess. Just drop off at the nearest full service car wash, "You're going to have to hose out the interior" :eek:
 
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