• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Light-Attack Plane Could Save USAF Millions of Dollars Per Year

bobbymike

ACCESS: USAP
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
10,845
Reaction score
1,976
Light-Attack Plane Could Save USAF Millions of Dollars Per Year
Inside the Air Force, Aug. 21, 2009 -- The Air Force could save hundreds of millions of dollars each year in fuel and operation costs alone if it replaced one-and-a-half of its deployed fighter squadrons with smaller, light-attack aircraft that could essentially conduct the same mission, according to an Air Combat Command report obtained by Inside the Air Force.

Pentagon Eyes Commercially Derived Bomber as Possible B-52 Replacement
DefenseAlert, Aug. 20, 2009 -- The Pentagon is considering a modified commercial wide-body aircraft packed with cruise missiles as a possible low-tech replacement for the Air Force's aging B-52 bomber fleet, a previously unreported option being floated as part of a wider assessment of how the Defense Department might modernize its long-range strike capabilities, according to DOD sources.

I always thought a large BWB aircraft could give you modest stealth with a HUGE fuel payload and the ability to carry dozens and dozens of advanced hypersonic strike missiles like the X-51 (or land attack cruise missiles, JASSMs, etc), for example. You probably would still have room for self defense DE weapons.
 

Firefly 2

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 30, 2009
Messages
461
Reaction score
8
I've been pondering and debating this too. It seems that a lot of missions conducted in the modern " asymmetric" engagements could be conducted by cheaper aircraft than say the F16 / F18 or the like.
But it's also my opinion that the RMA line of thinking has put a lot of decision makers into a technocentric frenzy, thus favouring the complex hi-tech options over cheaper alternatives ( if available). The USAF phased out their COIN capacity a long time ago. Hindsight now tells us that was probably premature. Hindsight, it's such a handy tool, albeit useless in practice.

As for your idea of BWB - missile carriers, I was thinking about something even simpler: a basic, low tech "bomb truck". Nothing fancy, a basic design with a big payload, long endurance for loitering over a battlefield, dropping JDAM's when called on by an FO. It's a role that has been filled by B1's and B52's over the Afghan theatre, and IMHO that's just overkill.
 

GTX

All hail the God of Frustration!!!
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2006
Messages
3,201
Reaction score
911
Website
beyondthesprues.com
Re the Light Attack/COIN Aircraft, the USAF this has been looking at for quite some time and in fact recently released a RFI to identify sources that can supply 100 new fighters to perform light attack and armed reconnaissance roles with first aircraft deliveries to start in Fiscal 2012 and the first operational squadron to activate a year later.

The main contenders include:

  • Air Tractor AT-802U,
  • Embraer Super Tucano,
  • Hawker Beechcraft AT-6B Texan II

Though there are many others as well including even re-introducing the OV-10 Bronco or getting the M-346 (chasing a combined T-38 replacement option as well).

If they go through with an acquisition and stick to turboprop, my belief is that the Super Tucano would be the leading candidate since the RFI almost is perfectly written around it. In fact, I can even show you what it may look like in service - here is one glanini on Whatifmodelers did for me a little while ago:

USAFEmbraerSuperTucano.png


RE the Commercially Derived Bomber, haven't we been down this track before - search B747 Cruise Missile carriers.

regards,

Greg
 

elmayerle

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
1,415
Reaction score
235
Considering the AT-6C efforts already under way, I doubt Hawker-Beehcraft would concede without a strenuous fight (after all, the Super Tucano is one of the projects they originally beat out in the JPATS competition). Besides, right now HBC is hungry (government sales are playing a major role in keeping them going, even with significant layoffs) and I can't see them giving this away at all.
 

SOC

I look at pictures all day
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2006
Messages
1,205
Reaction score
58
GTX said:
Though there are many others as well including even re-introducing the OV-10 Bronco or getting the M-346 (chasing a combined T-38 replacement option as well).

The KAI T-50 might be more logical than the M-346, given the Lockheed involvement.
 

elmayerle

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
1,415
Reaction score
235
SOC said:
GTX said:
Though there are many others as well including even re-introducing the OV-10 Bronco or getting the M-346 (chasing a combined T-38 replacement option as well).

The KAI T-50 might be more logical than the M-346, given the Lockheed involvement.

More like the A-50 or a more "agressive" derivative. What's amusing in just going with the A-50 is just how many systems date back to the F-20. Actually, I think the M346 has a more appropriate speed range for this application than does the T-50/A-50.
 

funkychinaman

ACCESS: Restricted
Joined
Nov 11, 2008
Messages
33
Reaction score
0
Re: Commercially Derived Bomber as Possible B-52 Replacement

Wow, and I thought I was only half kidding about Obama being the second coming of Carter...

Re: Light attack plane

When this news first came out, I wondered why they didn't just refurbish old A-4s and TA-4s. Given all that's been done to A-4s around the world, they're more capable now than they ever been. And they're already bought and paid for. And they wouldn't be useless if we actually fought someone with a real air force. What would be more of an anathema to the air force, buying a prop-powered "fighter" in the 21st century or reusing an old navy design from the 50's?
 

blackstar

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,819
Reaction score
276
Well, it looks like this idea has been shelved:

http://www.dodbuzz.com/2010/05/06/schwartz-shoots-down-light-fighter/#idc-cover

Schwartz Shoots Down COIN Plane
By Greg Grant Thursday, May 6th, 2010 2:48 pm

The Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz, shot down his own idea of a light attack aircraft for irregular wars today, saying existing aircraft can perform any and all close air support missions that a new, light strike fighter could. On top of that, he averred there is no need for a smaller cargo lifter either, he said.

“There is a not a need, in my view, for large numbers of light strike or light lift aircraft in our Air Force to do general purpose force missions,” Schwartz said, speaking at a Center for National Policy sponsored event in Washington, D.C. “With the platforms that we already have in our force structure, and our capabilities, we can service any close air support requirement. It’s as simple as that.” He could not envision replacing existing F-15, F-16 and A-10 aircraft with a light strike aircraft."
 

Just call me Ray

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
674
Reaction score
13
I would expect a focus instead of assigning light strike missions like this to UAVs like Predator or Reaper.
 

saturncanuck

Any landing you can walk away from, is a good one.
Joined
Jan 14, 2009
Messages
299
Reaction score
8
Website
www.aerofile.ca
GTX said:
Re the Light Attack/COIN Aircraft, the USAF this has been looking at for quite some time and in fact recently released a RFI to identify sources that can supply 100 new fighters to perform light attack and armed reconnaissance roles with first aircraft deliveries to start in Fiscal 2012 and the first operational squadron to activate a year later.

The main contenders include:

  • Air Tractor AT-802U,
  • Embraer Super Tucano,
  • Hawker Beechcraft AT-6B Texan II

Though there are many others as well including even re-introducing the OV-10 Bronco or getting the M-346 (chasing a combined T-38 replacement option as well).

If they go through with an acquisition and stick to turboprop, my belief is that the Super Tucano would be the leading candidate since the RFI almost is perfectly written around it. In fact, I can even show you what it may look like in service - here is one glanini on Whatifmodelers did for me a little while ago:

USAFEmbraerSuperTucano.png


RE the Commercially Derived Bomber, haven't we been down this track before - search B747 Cruise Missile carriers.

regards,

Greg

A-16 was already assigned. A-14?
 

JFC Fuller

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
2,580
Reaction score
1,022
Complete waste of time. A light COIN aircraft is a one trick pony and offers nothing Reapers and Apaches dont offer accept a more vulnerable crew. On the ground the favourite CAS aircraft are actually F-15E's and B-1B's because the sheer array and weight of ordnance they carry and their sensors. The aircrafts speed and fuel allowance enables them to get to an operating area fast and stay there.
 
Q

qxev

Guest
http://www.reocities.com/usarmyaviationdigest/grasshoppersmustreturn.htm

http://www.combatreform.org/killerbees2.htm

http://www.architectswanderlust.com/?p=16
 

royabulgaf

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 29, 2008
Messages
516
Reaction score
97
Isn't this market pretty much filled by drones and the like? It would be nice to afford both F-35s and Bronco IIs or whatever, but we can't. The F-35 can fill the attack role when called for, and still be a fighter when needed.
 

danielgrimes

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
Messages
57
Reaction score
2
Reducing the number of complex aircraft built increases the unit cost of those aircraft (e.g. F/A-22) so if it's value for money you're looking for (as opposed to F-22 budget cuts) a mix of hi-tech and low tech aircraft needs to be well planned. And this isn't generally in the toolkit of military procurement functions!

I believe the BAE Hawk was planned to get involved in the WW3 action and has/had? some avonics interoperability to enable Tornados to identify targets (not sure if this was 1990 Bucanneer style laser designation of something better?). The planning here appears to be along the lines of roll out the low tech when we need all resources we can muster. When the military doesn't need all the resources it can muster (assymetric conflicts), does it not make sense to battle prove the hi tech planes in a comfortable environment? The USAF has over 2000 fighters with a fraction of them in live combat operations at present. I would have thought that the Afgan skies are full of UAVs and Raptors in order to build up the hours of operational experience with these assets?

So whilst having a low tech plane in the stable sounds like a good idea financially, militarily I'm not sure it would happen?
 
Q

qxev

Guest
Hawk and Tornado exercise
do not have the information?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAE_Hawk
From 1983 to 1986, some Hawks were equipped as the short-range interceptor aircraft for point defence. 88 T1s were modified to carry two AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles (AAMs) in addition to the centreline gun pod carrying a single 30 mm ADEN cannon. These aircraft were designated Hawk T1A. In the event of war, they would have worked in collaboration with Tornado F3 aircraft, which would use their Foxhunter search radars to vector the radarless Hawks against enemy targets. Such missions would have been flown by instructor pilots. Conversions were completed in 1986.
 

Grey Havoc

The path not taken.
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
14,574
Reaction score
4,299
Manned Light Aircraft May Edge Out Some UAVs

May 2, 2011


By David A. Fulghum



Unmanned aircraft are useful for countries that can afford them, but many of the world’s air forces, governments and agencies cannot sustain long-term spending on training, personnel or force structure that UAVs require. A cheaper option is light, Predator-sized, manned aircraft equipped with sensors and weapons designed for the UAV market.

Modern trainer designs in particular are being re-invented as light attack aircraft that can serve as a sensor truck for communications relay, long-endurance surveillance and intelligence gathering. The aircraft also would carry small, precision bombs, and perhaps—in a few years—multi-spectrum surveillance, communications jamming and electronic attack options. Aerospace industry officials contend there is a potential world market for thousands of such aircraft that includes law-enforcement organizations and disaster-relief agencies.

For example, the Hawker Beechcraft/Lockheed-Martin AT-6B is “inexpensive to operate and doesn’t require much satellite bandwidth,” says Derek Hess, director of the AT-6 light attack program. At the same time, it offers advantages an unmanned aircraft cannot. “Having a government official in the aircraft would make for fast decision-making when working cooperatively with the border patrol, homeland defense or fire-fighting support, particularly if you integrate them into a command-and-control network that’s already compatible with the A-10C [close air support aircraft].”

Advanced electro-optical sensor packages are expected to offer useful payloads. Hyperspectral sensors are compact and lend themselves to smaller platforms. As they emerge on the commercial market, their uses for irregular warfare, homeland defense and civil support will quickly take off.

“For example, hyperspectral returns can look at vegetation to see what will burn,” Hess says. “You can plug into existing command-and-control networks to be more proactive in fighting fires or some other disaster. Or you can sense, in a border security environment, where people have been walking and when paths have changed over time.”

So what else is in the future of light attack? “I can tell you what I don’t think it is,” Hess says. “It’s not 50-caliber machine guns and 500-pound laser-guided bombs. The light attack attributes we are after are deep magazines [that allow multiple attacks on a single mission], low collateral damage and precision lethal weapons with standoff range. That is completely compatible with a network-centric approach that provides targeting solutions to the launch platform. It will be very lethal against unhardened, moving targets in an irregular warfare environment.”

“We are making choices that will shape those future higher-end capabilities,” he says. “We just haven’t gotten to some of the smaller, more sophisticated electronic attack options on the AT-6B.”

The AT-6B project initially was aimed at “designing a foreign military assistance program to build capacity for like-minded nations,” Hess says. “We are looking at national security strategies in a post-9/11 world. We need a [common] tool for airmen to engage with other airmen around the world. And we think that tool is the AT-6.”

Roughly, the AT-6 would serve the same purposes and in some cases replace the OV-10, A-37 and F-5 legacy turboprop and jet aircraft that are at the end of their useful life.

Given that the aircraft was designed for student-pilot abuse that’s similar to the rigors of carrier landings, there appear to be a lot of operational options.

“I’m ready to put a tailhook on it and operate off a carrier,” says Dan Hinson, AT-6 demonstration and test manager and chief test pilot for the team. “I went to Desert Storm [the 1991 Iraq/Kuwait war] on the USS Theodore Roosevelt and we launched OV-10s. As to the next-generation [capabilities for fighting in] the electronic warfare spectrum, I think anything with 14-inch lugs [for exterior payload carriage] and a 28-volt self-generating power system is within the capability of this airplane.”


http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=defense&id=news/asd/2011/05/02/01.xml&headline=Manned
 

Grey Havoc

The path not taken.
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
14,574
Reaction score
4,299
Congress Threatens To Withhold LAAR Funding

May 18, 2011

By Jen DiMascio


Lawmakers are taking aim at the U.S. Air Force’s effort to buy aircraft to train foreign militaries, known as the Light Attack Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) program, due to concerns about its legality and the Pentagon’s “disjointed approach” to buying the aircraft.

USAF has asked for $158.5 million to buy nine LAAR aircraft in fiscal 2012, with the eventual goal of buying 15.

In its version of the defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee does not zero out funding for the program, but it does rap the Pentagon on the knuckles for failing to deliver a validated requirement. The bill, which still must be passed by the full House and the Senate, would block funding to start such a program until the Joint Requirements Oversight Council signs off on a requirement and the Pentagon’s top acquisition official approves an acquisition strategy.

“The committee is aware of efforts by the Navy and Marine Corps to field an operational demonstration of light attack and armed reconnaissance aircraft in Afghanistan,” the panel says in its report on the bill. “The committee has not supported these efforts because there has not been a validated requirement for such aircraft, and the Combined Force Air Component Commander has not indicated a need for additional assets to provide light attack and armed reconnaissance capability for the U.S. Central Command theater of operations.”

The report adds that USAF’s attempt to buy the aircraft to “build partner capacity” might violate a U.S. law governing how federal dollars must be spent.

The defense secretary also may free up funding for the program if he notifies Congress that he has determined the aircraft are needed for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

House Appropriations Committee members also have expressed concerns about LAAR; the defense appropriations subcommittee is scheduled to draft its spending bill for fiscal 2012 on June 1.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=defense&id=news/asd/2011/05/18/02.xml&headline=Congress
 

royabulgaf

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 29, 2008
Messages
516
Reaction score
97
It seems the price gap is not as large as some people think. The operator may be a bit more interested in returning the vehicle in one piece if his ass is in the cockpit instead of some mancave half a world away.
 

Michel Van

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,980
Reaction score
1,353
or maybe back to Piper PA-48 Enforcer ?
it based on P-51 Mustang...
 

pathology_doc

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 7, 2008
Messages
1,001
Reaction score
263
I've heard about the PA-48, but IIRC the A-1J would have advantages in terms of weapon loadout, loiter time, internal cannon armament (two careless jet fighters to its credit in Vietnam, I believe, and helicopters would be sweating)... plus with new wine in old wineskins (guided munitions) its effectiveness would be greatly multiplied. Could you fit a Hellfire on the rocket racks? That'd be... what, 10 Hellfires and three racks available for AGMs, cluster bombs or other assorted stores (e.g. AIM-9 or something similar for helicopter killing work). Or you could put a laser designator with a 360 degree view on the centre pylon etc. etc. Endless possibilities.
 

Grey Havoc

The path not taken.
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
14,574
Reaction score
4,299
It looks like the Navy may be about to outmanouvre the Air Force:

Very Light Attack (Neptunus Lex)

U.S. Navy (and, I assume, the Marines) Looking for that Basic Ground Support Aircraft (EagleSpeak)

Light-Attack Plane Seeks New Life In Navy (AOL Defense)

National Harbor: A light-attack aircraft may yet find its way into the hands of U.S. aviators, but not with the service that some may have thought.

Lockheed Martin and Hawker-Beechcraft are considering pitching its AT-6B light-attack counterinsurgency plane for the upcoming Navy-led Combat Dragon II program, according to sources familiar with the effort.

The Navy recently shifted over $17 million into the Combat Dragon II program, designed to prove that a small, turboprop-driven aircraft can be used for "high end/special aviation" missions in Afghanistan.
 

Creative

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 15, 2008
Messages
241
Reaction score
7
Well the AT-6 is out apparently.

http://www.examiner.com/aviation-news-in-washington-dc/beechcraft-at-6-excluded-from-air-force-bidding-process

Hawker Beechcraft Corp. issued the following statement on Friday after receiving official notification from the United States Air Force that their Beechcraft AT-6 has been excluded from continuing in the Light Air Support bidding process.


"We have been notified by the United States Air Force in a letter that the Beechcraft AT-6 has been excluded from the Light Air Support competition. The letter provides no basis for the exclusion.


“We are both confounded and troubled by this decision, as we have been working closely with the Air Force for two years and, with our partners, have invested more than $100 million preparing to meet the Air Force's specific requirements. Additionally, the AT-6 has been evaluated and proven capable through a multi-year, Congressionally-funded demonstration program led by the Air National Guard.


“We have followed the Air Force's guidance closely and, based on what we have seen, we continue to believe that we submitted the most capable, affordable and sustainable light attack aircraft as measured against the Air Force's Request for Proposal. We have requested a debriefing from the Air Force and will be exploring all potential options in the coming days."
 

yasotay

ACCESS: Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
2,573
Reaction score
892
I suspect that "all" bidders are out. Unless I have missed something I thought it was announced that funds for Light Attack had been removed from the budget already.
 

pathology_doc

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 7, 2008
Messages
1,001
Reaction score
263
On second thought, if you're up against a relatively unsophisticated enemy and you want protection from the Golden BB, an Il-2 is hard to beat...
 

Grey Havoc

The path not taken.
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
14,574
Reaction score
4,299
Oh-oh.

Hawker Beechcraft (HBC) said today that the firm has learned from Justice Department attorneys at a U.S. Court of Federal Claims hearing that the U.S. Air Force apparently awarded its Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft contract to Sierra Nevada and Brazilian airframe manufacturer Embraer on Dec. 22.

Furthermore, as of early Dec. 30 government officials apparently have elected not to make public the contract award, although Dec. 28 court transcripts confirmed the fact, according to HBC officials.

USAF LAS Awarded to Sierra, Hawker Says (Aviation Week)
 

Stargazer2006

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2009
Messages
13,227
Reaction score
664
Could the recent "resurrection" of the Scaled Composites 151 ARES for some Navy mission have anything to do with this ground attack requirement?
 

The Artist

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2009
Messages
638
Reaction score
263
pathology_doc said:
On second thought, if you're up against a relatively unsophisticated enemy and you want protection from the Golden BB, an Il-2 is hard to beat...

For the pilot, maybe, but not for the gunner.
 

Avimimus

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
1,983
Reaction score
106
The Artist said:
pathology_doc said:
On second thought, if you're up against a relatively unsophisticated enemy and you want protection from the Golden BB, an Il-2 is hard to beat...

For the pilot, maybe, but not for the gunner.

Rear gunners always take higher casualties when under attack from fighters (as their gun stations face backwards and lack armour at the firing port). With the exception of the early conversions, the armoured tub was extended to protect the gunner as well. While the rear gunner had only about half the thickness of armour provided for the pilot, this was increased to the full amount by 1944 and was superior to the armour provided for most gunners in Western aircraft. While casualties were high in the attack squadrons rear gunners were valued crew members and large amounts of ammunition were expended in training them. Protecting the aircraft was a priority. It suffered high casualties due to its low altitude of operation, vulnerability to fighters and operation in small teams.

So, it was a death trap for everyone - a very effective death trap - but not particularly worse for gunners than most other aircraft (and superior to many).
 

F-14D

I really did change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2007
Messages
1,784
Reaction score
170
http://defense.aol.com/2012/03/01/hawker-beechcraft-at-6-texan-ii-guns-for-super-tucano-as-air-for/
 
Top