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F/A-16. A CAS aircraft with some get up and go.

kcran567

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GTX said:
kcran567 said:
Depleted Uranium was also to be a last ditch weapon to be used in a losing scenario because it is radioactive and dangerous to be around when fired (dust particles etc).

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

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


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

kcran567

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quellish said:
kcran567 said:
And you saying I am wrong with how NATO was to deal with a scenario of where they were losing on the ground? Of course they would use tactical nukes as a last resort. You misunderstood my point. Depleted Uranium was also to be a last ditch weapon to be used in a losing scenario because it is radioactive and dangerous to be around when fired (dust particles etc). Now it's used all the time with little concern.


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

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

quellish

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kcran567 said:
When it ignites in the barrel or ignites when hitting a target like a tank is where the concern is. There is debate about the health effects.

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


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

J.A.W.

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Really? Were they used in Europe during the Balkan wars of the `90s?
 

kcran567

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quellish said:
kcran567 said:
When it ignites in the barrel or ignites when hitting a target like a tank is where the concern is. There is debate about the health effects.

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


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

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

GTX

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kcran567 said:
There is some evidence that the DU used in Kosovo and the Gulf may have contained trace Plutonium and other toxic by-products.

References?
 

Sundog

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People are talking about the A-10 not surviving CAS in a high threat environment. Personally speaking, I don't know of any aircraft, other than a helo, that can perform CAS in a high threat environment. If you tell me it's the F-35, I'm going to laugh, because;

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

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

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

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

GTX

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Sundog said:
a) It won't be flying low enough to use it's gun in a high threat environment and
There seems to be this mistaken assumption that CAS needs to be done at low level using the Mk1 eyeball. Nothing could be further from the truth! In Afghanistan for instance, CAS has been undertaken using B-1Bs flying at altitude well outside of the range of guns.

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

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

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

Avimimus

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Of course, one could make an argument that an A-37B or OV-1 replacement has been missing. Cheap, fuel-efficient loiter, with a decent bomb load. I guess the Predators now do that?

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

Triton

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GTX said:
kcran567 said:
Why is there talk of bringing the OV-10 back?
More misplaced nostalgia by the ignorant or those with vested interests. ::)
Really? The United States Air Force Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) or Light Air Support (LAS) program was initiated due to misplaced nostalgia by the ignorant? It had nothing to do with the need for a new close air support aircraft that was suited to the type of combat the United States was facing in post 2003-invasion Iraq and Afghanistan? The United States Air Force had planned to acquire approximately 100 aircraft in the RFI dated July 27, 2009. So gazing into your crystal ball, you predict that the United States and coalition forces won't need to support ground troops in a low intensity conflict or COIN operation through the year 2040?
 

GTX

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

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

GTX

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Triton said:
Since Abraham and GTX are convinced that all future conflicts will be in a high NGAD and high air threat requiring F-35, why on Earth would the United States Air Force need the Textron AirLand Scorpion?
Putting words in my mouth again are we? :eek: Where have I stated that I am "convinced that all future conflicts will be in a high NGAD and high air threat requiring F-35"? ???

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

AeroFranz

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

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

Triton

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GTX said:
Putting words in my mouth again are we? :eek: Where have I stated that I am "convinced that all future conflicts will be in a high NGAD and high air threat requiring F-35"? ???
I can't read your mind. I can only interpret the posts that you and Abraham have contributed to this discussion concerning the capabilities and vulnerabilities of the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Unfortunately, the United States Air Force is not also proposing an OA-X or AT-X program to address the capabilities that will be lost with the retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II and insists that the F-35 Lightning II is a replacement for the A-10. I would feel much better about the A-10 retirement if the Air Force had 100 or more LAAR/LAS aircraft in inventory to address potential low-intensity conflicts and COIN operations or an OA-X or AT-X program in development.
 

Sundog

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GTX said:
Warning: Reality bubble burst coming! The F-35 (and many other systems) ARE replacing the A-10. Moreover, this myth that the USAF doesn't care is just that, a myth! Hell, the current Head of the USAF is a former A-10 pilot! Anyone who continues to purport this myth is insulting the many USAF personnel who have operated and continue to operate the A-10 and who also continue to provide CAS to many troops on the ground, both with and without the A-10.
Now you've gone off the reservation, as you see, one of my best friends is from the A-10 community. You should remember that your opinion is yours alone and you can't speak for an entire community. Also, as history bears out, the USAF has been trying to rid itself of the A-10 for decades. That isn't my opinion; It's historical fact.
 

F-14D

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Sundog said:
GTX said:
Warning: Reality bubble burst coming! The F-35 (and many other systems) ARE replacing the A-10. Moreover, this myth that the USAF doesn't care is just that, a myth! Hell, the current Head of the USAF is a former A-10 pilot! Anyone who continues to purport this myth is insulting the many USAF personnel who have operated and continue to operate the A-10 and who also continue to provide CAS to many troops on the ground, both with and without the A-10.
Now you've gone off the reservation, as you see, one of my best friends is from the A-10 community. You should remember that your opinion is yours alone and you can't speak for an entire community. Also, as history bears out, the USAF has been trying to rid itself of the A-10 for decades. That isn't my opinion; It's historical fact.
I've got to back Sundog on this. Without going into a long-winded dissertation, if you'll look back you'll see that one of the main reasons USAF brought the A-10 in was to counter the "threat" of Army doing CAS with the Cheyenne, and when Army canceled that n its own, they weren't actually sure what to do with a plane that didn't fight other aircraft or do long range bombing. It's been a stepchild for years. One only has to look at USAF's plan for the A-10 in 89=90 to see what they thought of it. Had it not been for Saddam going into Kuwait, the A-10 would have been gone years ago.

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

kcran567

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

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

Triton

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I presume that this book review makes the points that F-14D wanted to make about the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the Air Force's commitment to Close Air Support:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Triton

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Perhaps instead of twisting the United States Air Force's arm to keep the remaining 246 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs through 2040 for CAS, the government should instead fund 368 Sikorsky S-97 Raider light tactical helicopters and Future Vertical Lift for the United States Army Aviation Branch? The last I heard about the LAAR/LAS program was that the 20 Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft were going to be transferred to the Afghan Air Force.
 

Abraham Gubler

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There is so much stupid in this thread it’s much better just to start with a cleanskin response rather than point by point rebuttal. The great irony is that even though we are 25 years later many of the “pro A-10” lobby are repeating exactly the same things that USAF CAS Gen. Larry Welch said they were doing back in 89:

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

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

Which one could just as easily apply to some people here at secretproject.co.uk though perhaps time is not the issue but rather mental capacity.

Some basic fact refreshing:

  • USAF is not against the CAS mission (they have assigned B-1Bs to CAS to get the job done!)
  • USAF wanted to replace the A-10 with the A-16 because the former could not survive against a high level GBAD and air threat.
  • The A-10 has only demonstrated useful CAS capability in low intensity conflicts (ODS, OIF, OEF).
  • There is no evidence that the A-16 would have been deficient in these campaigns if it was in service in place of the A-10 (the F/A-16 is NOT the A-16).
  • The only way the A-10 has been useful in OEF is with a major systems upgrade which the A-16 would have had from ISD
  • The F-35 will be able to do the CAS mission far better than the A-10 because of its sensors.
And the most important fact:

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

Ohh and one more:

Many fighter pilots in the 1930s were against enclosed cockpits because the standard of the initial transparencies were very low. That is they couldn’t see through the glass in order to establish basic situational awareness. SA was more important than reduced drag.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Sundog said:
Remember, it's not that the A-10 was designed for CAS in the terms most people are using it here, it was designed to specifically stop Russian tanks pouring through the Fulda gap.
I forgot to respond to this point in my last post above. It is of course totally wrong. The A-10 was not designed as a Central Front anti tank platform. It was designed to meet a spec written based on the VietNam War experience of A-1 Skyraider pilots. It was to be an ultimate Spad. Even the big Avenger gun system was speced to meet the VietNam War fighting role. Firing HEI ammo of course which was later supplemented by the DU armour piercing ammo to give it an anti tank capability.

But as an anti tank platform in a contested environment the A-10 is primarily a Maverick shooter. For which with only Pave Penny to help with offboard targeting its pretty poor at it. Unlike the A-16 with its helmet mounted sight, nav system, etc. The Avenger gun as an anti tank weapon is very limited based on the gun attack flight profile needed to get the shells onto the targets. Which makes it extremely vulnerable to an enemy with a function GBAD system. Little problem against someone with only 12.7mm HMGs and SA-7s as in VietNam, ODS, OIF and OEF but a sure death sentence up against the Soviet Army.
 

quellish

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Abraham Gubler

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quellish said:
The Falcon had a number of techical issues with the gun, avonics, and software - mostly issues that probably could have been resolved within a few years. The aircrews flying them had previous CAS and FAC experience and provided detailed feedback. The Falcon was not a good fit for this role even if the technical problems were resolved. For this and other reasons, DoD dropped the A-16 project.
TheA-16 went the same way as the RF-16 (ATARS) post Cold War “peace dividend” cancellation. With which is shared lots of avionics. Filing the peace dividend cancellations under “other reasons” is ridiculous.

The real CAS mission is only part of what the ‘public concept’ of CAS is. The other part of it Battlefield Air Interdiction (BAI) is just as important. For example in ODS the A-10 flew very few CAS missions. But try and tell that to the fanboys. It flew lots of BAI however.

The F-16 may have proven deficient in CAS but the A-16 was to have the avionics in both navigation, target hand off and target acquisition to make a real difference to that mission. And fly BAI at 200 knots more than the A-10 (500 vs 300). And do it all at night and in bad weather as well.

The gun pod was a nightmare but hardly a deal breaker. The A-16 still had its M61 20mm Vulcan. An elegant solution to the failure of the GPU-5 would be to ditch both the 1,800 pound pod and the internal M61. And fit in the place of the M61 the GAU-12 25mm cannon. You have a gun with the same accuracy as the GAU-8 in the A-10 (5 milliradian) and all the advantages of internal carriage. It may lack the striking power of the 30mm but it’s a lot better than 20mm.
 

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Having a look into my crystal ball I see ... I see .... a thread to be closed soon ! :mad:
What on earth makes it so difficult, to have a reasonable discussion, without offending
or disparage other members ? Just go into the deepest wood and shout it out there,
but please, please behave like reasonable people here ! ::)
Several reported posts and the triggering and following ones deleted, probably harmful to
the understanding of the whole thread, but what else could be done ? Banning ??! :mad:
 

Triton

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

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

In general CAS is rarely conducted without control of the air, and low level is always presumed to be a high threat environment (though not from radar guided threats).
Is the current rotary wing fleet capable of adequately performing most BOT CAS missions if the A-10 is retired? Or does this mission require the speed of a fixed wing aircraft?
 

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Not quite sure, but when using smart bombs, higher speed probably means
a larger "basket" for dropping them, so more distance between the CAS aircraft
and its target, equalling more safety.
 

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

Note also that a COIN/Low-intensity CAS platform such as that sought being sought under this program is an altogether different creature than a high intensity conflict CAS platform. It also highlights one of the problems the A-10 has: It is too much for the "Low end" but not enough for the high...
I agree with the basic observation about the A-10. However, the OV-10 does have some nice capabilities compared to many COIN designs - like a small cargo bay and the added survivability produced by being a twin-engined design.

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

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I see the OV-10X is a good COIN platform as long as they don’t try and take it into areas that it does not belong (ie the two losses the USMC had in GW1 due to likely MANPADs).

I would change the avionics & armament a bit:
1. Swap out the 20mm Gatling and putting in the same gun as the Apache.
2. Use more LOGIR and APKWS rockets
3. LZUNI for a bigger punch and much cheaper than Hellfire
4. Grab the EODAS & Helmet from the F-35.
 

Triton

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Jemiba said:
Not quite sure, but when using smart bombs, higher speed probably means a larger "basket" for dropping them, so more distance between the CAS aircraft and its target, equalling more safety.
So isn't the A-10 debate really about concern of a gap in capability of the United States military to perform the BOT CAS mission?
 

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

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


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

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Abraham Gubler said:
Sundog said:
Remember, it's not that the A-10 was designed for CAS in the terms most people are using it here, it was designed to specifically stop Russian tanks pouring through the Fulda gap.
I forgot to respond to this point in my last post above. It is of course totally wrong. The A-10 was not designed as a Central Front anti tank platform. It was designed to meet a spec written based on the VietNam War experience of A-1 Skyraider pilots. It was to be an ultimate Spad. Even the big Avenger gun system was speced to meet the VietNam War fighting role. Firing HEI ammo of course which was later supplemented by the DU armour piercing ammo to give it an anti tank capability.

But as an anti tank platform in a contested environment the A-10 is primarily a Maverick shooter. For which with only Pave Penny to help with offboard targeting its pretty poor at it. Unlike the A-16 with its helmet mounted sight, nav system, etc. The Avenger gun as an anti tank weapon is very limited based on the gun attack flight profile needed to get the shells onto the targets. Which makes it extremely vulnerable to an enemy with a function GBAD system. Little problem against someone with only 12.7mm HMGs and SA-7s as in VietNam, ODS, OIF and OEF but a sure death sentence up against the Soviet Army.
Thanks for the informative reply. I knew it was an A-1 replacement to a certain extent, but my understanding, quite apparently wrong, was that the gun was primarily anti-tank, but yes, most of the pics I've seen of it are with the Mavericks. Most of the remaining pylons usually having ECM, sidewinders and DT's. For all of it's capability to lug weapons around, it usually doesn't seem to carry many operationally.

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

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Abraham Gubler said:
Triton said:
No one is advocating sending the AH-64 Apache Longbow to the boneyard because of the threat of radar-guided SAMs and SPAAGs.
The Apache is a helicopter. It can hover at an altitude of 6 feet AGL. The A-10 is an aircraft. It can not hover nor can it safely fly for long periods below tree top level. The difference is rather important when facing a high level GBAD threat.
Exactly AG - Correct me if I am wrong but weren't some of the opening shots of Iraq I air war Apaches hovering at about 6ft AGL taking out Iraqi radar installations to open a 'corridor' for the fast movers?
 

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Sundog said:
Thanks for the informative reply. I knew it was an A-1 replacement to a certain extent, but my understanding, quite apparently wrong, was that the gun was primarily anti-tank, but yes, most of the pics I've seen of it are with the Mavericks. Most of the remaining pylons usually having ECM, sidewinders and DT's. For all of it's capability to lug weapons around, it usually doesn't seem to carry many operationally.
The history of the spec writing for the A-X is detailed in Corum’s book on Boyd. Pierre Sprey wrote the detailed 1969 spec based on discussions with A-1 Skyraider pilots operating in VietNam. The ideal aircraft should have long loiter time, low-speed manoeuvrability, massive cannon firepower, and extreme survivability.

Maverick was developed before A-X but was the premier USAF anti tank weapon of the 70s and 80s. If the A-10 had ever been used extensively in COIN operations before the development of smart weapons it would probably have flown with large numbers of under wing Mk 82s, CBUs and fire bombs. It was just too late for the missions of the 60s and early 70s and the US didn’t play a big role in the COIN campaigns of the late 70s and 1980s.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
The great irony is that even though we are 25 years later many of the “pro A-10” lobby are repeating exactly the same things that USAF CAS Gen. Larry Welch said they were doing back in 89:

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

The situation, Welch said, confirms his view that in Washington, "it is a common management technique to save time in reaching a conclusion by omitting all the relevant facts."
What was Gen. Larry Welch's response at the time to concerns about a loss of BOT CAS capability with the retirement of the A-10? Rotary wing assets and FARPs?
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
Weapon systems designed for high intensity warfare can be used successfully in low intensity conflicts. But not vice versa.
And that quote sums up, for me at least, the entire debate in a time of austere budgets. Without budget issues I would maintain the A-10 but it may no longer be an option and even then I think I would still trade it away for more of something else like an S-97 type vehicle.

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

As usual presented; IMHO :D
 

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Abraham, I have to disagree with you, w.r.t the A-10.

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

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

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

I think you're getting Phase I (Boyd inspired Vietnam turboprop stuff) A-X that existed before June 1967 mixed up with post June 1967 Phase II (ETO heavy jet CAS) A-X.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
Against a high level GBAD threat (Soviet Army) and a high level air threat (regiments of MiG-29s) the A-10 is a dead duck. Too fast to hide and too slow to escape. And airframe ruggedness and cockpit armour is not going to save you when they get you hit by these types of weapons.
So why did the VVS procure the Su-25, a close analogue to the YA-9A -- when faced with the same level of ground threat -- (while US GBAD was pathetic, NATO GBAD wasn't (Gepard/Roland) ) -- and the same level of air threat (roaming swarms of NATO fighters)?

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