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08Dawg

First an AT-6...

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As an operator, my biggest gripe is the incorporation of a WSO into slow FAC'in.

Maybe, if the weapons system involves fused EO and IR sensors, a data link or two, UHF, VHF, FM, and Satcom radios, net-enabled weapons, multiple J-weapons, and LGBs...you just might want an expert in those systems in your trunk. CAS/COIN has changed since the Bird Dog days, so the crew duties and roles have changed as well.

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I find it troubling that Mr. Day, the USAF director for irregular warfare, is publicly stating that his camp is 'fighting the fighter mafia on this.' If that's his perception of where irregular warfare programs are right now, then he's pretty far out of touch with the reality. My advice to him is to quit making excuses and start serving the customer better.

As an operator, my biggest gripe is the incorporation of a WSO into slow FAC'in. Everyone wants to draw parallels with FACs of yore. And while some (not all) of FAC platforms - A-1, O-1, O-2, OV-10, A-10, F-100 - had two seats, exactly zero carried a nav or a WSO. I think this would be a great mission but if it ends up working like Strike Eagle CAS ("Hey pilot, don't mask my targeting pod, and talk on the radio only by exception!") then you can keep it.

So are you in the Strike Eagle community, or are you just reporting hearsay?

And shouldn't this be about what is or is not effective, not what might hurt your pride?

I'm not advocating either way, just pointing out your reasoning doesn't seem too solid.

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Guest Alarm Red

Maybe, if the weapons system involves fused EO and IR sensors, a data link or two, UHF, VHF, FM, and Satcom radios, net-enabled weapons, multiple J-weapons, and LGBs...you just might want an expert in those systems in your trunk. CAS/COIN has changed since the Bird Dog days, so the crew duties and roles have changed as well.

That's a 100% valid point. There is no doubt a dedicated sensor operator can provide more and better sensor coverage than a pilot operating the same sensor while still flying the aircraft.

That said, is this new COIN platform being procured as another sensor? If so why not just throw another expendable MQ-1 orbit up? My understanding is that the intent is to have something that can quickly integrate with the ground commander's scheme of maneuver and act as an airbone extension of the FSE - read, FAC(A).

Your example says fused EO/IR sensor, multiple datalinks, UHF/VHF/FM/SATCOM, cats-and-dogs weapons, LGBs... Add FAC(A) and you have A-10 and F-16.

Bottom line - NTISR can and does benefit from a sensor operator (sidebar - how many years do you have to do something before it stops being non-traditional?) Multiple radios, myriad weaponry, and an EO/IR sensor historically have not and do not drive the need for a FAC(A) to have a trunk monkey.

So are you in the Strike Eagle community, or are you just reporting hearsay?

Are those my only two options?

And shouldn't this be about what is or is not effective, not what might hurt your pride?

The crux of my argument is that a WSO has not historically been required to be effective as a FAC. Any references to 'pride' are brought on by you and you alone and are not in any way constructive to the discussion.

I'm not advocating either way, just pointing out your reasoning doesn't seem too solid.

So you draw conclusions about my reasoning in the same post where you ask for clarification on my reasoning? Copy.

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Don't just think WSO in the back, think Iraqi trainee in the back, think Afghan trainee in the back, etc. Assuming the AF isn't fucking this up, a major part of doing this correctly would be training host nation personnel and eventually "giving" them the aircraft.

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Don't just think WSO in the back, think Iraqi trainee in the back, think Afghan trainee in the back, etc. Assuming the AF isn't fucking this up, a major part of doing this correctly would be training host nation personnel and eventually "giving" them the aircraft.

Exactly. As cool as the light attack/armed recce mission would be to fly, if we're primarily doing that job versus having partner nations do it for themselves then we've already failed. Obviously I think having a WSO on board would be a plus to the mission set since it more or less doubles the amount of stuff you can think about/look at/shoot at once, but that's not the point. This aircraft, if we ever do build it, should have two seats if for nothing else so we can train Crapistani pilots how to fly it before we let them take the lead as we fade to the background.

Common misnomer, but we're not actually doing COIN (unless we're fighting off an insurgency in the United States). If we buy platforms for COIN instead of FID (where we're training partner nations to do the actual fighting for themselves) then we're just wasting our time. What this should be is a FID platform that is primarily used to train/transfer to others.

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Eh?

The WHOLE POINT of buying the OA-X is to be able to sell them or give them away as MAP/Military aid. WTF does the A-10 have to do with that?

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So are you in the Strike Eagle community, or are you just reporting hearsay?

And shouldn't this be about what is or is not effective, not what might hurt your pride?

I'm not advocating either way, just pointing out your reasoning doesn't seem too solid.

I have a feeling AlarmRed has a little more experience than you do.

[quote name='Alarm Red' date='15 April 2010 - 01:00 AM' timestamp='1271311236' post='244170'

Bottom line - NTISR can and does benefit from a sensor operator (sidebar - how many years do you have to do something before it stops being non-traditional?) Multiple radios, myriad weaponry, and an EO/IR sensor historically have not and do not drive the need for a FAC(A) to have a trunk monkey.

The crux of my argument is that a WSO has not historically been required to be effective as a FAC. Any references to 'pride' are brought on by you and you alone and are not in any way constructive to the discussion.

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Eh?

The WHOLE POINT of buying the OA-X is to be able to sell them or give them away as MAP/Military aid. WTF does the A-10 have to do with that?

Having recently done a LOT of research on this topic..."giving them away", is not as simple as it seems. The law needs to be changed and Congress is in no hurry to do so. For now, everything has to go through Foreign Military Sales, which is a nightmare that can take years and it completely contaminated by politics.

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I have a feeling AlarmRed has a little more experience than you do.

Of that I have no doubt. Doesn't change the odd statement he made regarding Strike Eagles performing CAS. I've never heard anyone else have that kind of sentiment towards it nor read about any problems. Also the tone of his statement didn't sound the most objective.

Had several Marine NFO (navigator) instructors who were FAC(A)s in F/A-18s and the division of labor seemed to work out well with the pilots flying/defending the jet so the backseat could focus entirely on coordinating the CAS/ground war. Even though the F-16/A-10/older airframe pilots worked out great as FACs, wouldn't spreading the workload only improve matters/increase the ability to concentrate on their unique areas?

Good point.

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Silly that AFSOC didn't pony up for this program, but from a manpower perspective, I can see why.

Despite what Tex will tell you, this program has roots that extend beyond A-10s in OEF. Gen Harry "Heinie" Aderholt flew AT-28Ds and A-26s in the 606th Air Commando Squadron during Vietnam--and so did the Vietnamese. In fact, Tucano's have been used in South America for quite some time;

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In fact, Tucano's have been used in South America for quite some time;

See post #22 above.

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Oh, sorry, hope I didn't steal your thunder.

no, but can I have my lightning back?

At least the search function nazis didn't get to you first!

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Silly that AFSOC didn't pony up for this program, but from a manpower perspective, I can see why.

Don't think it wasn't offered to AFSOC. I've said it before, just as the argument has been made that ACC is stuck in a Cold War mentality, AFSOC is stuck in a Desert One mentality. AFSOC's #1 priority is to recap it's C-130s.

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Guest Scribe

I find it troubling that Mr. Day, the USAF director for irregular warfare, is publicly stating that his camp is 'fighting the fighter mafia on this.' If that's his perception of where irregular warfare programs are right now, then he's pretty far out of touch with the reality. My advice to him is to quit making excuses and start serving the customer better.

May be OBE, heard Mr Day did not get the permanent assignment and someone else has been announced as the senior civilian in AF/A5R-Q (Irregular Warfare). I've been following it closely at that level and at AFSOC (not interested due to C-130 RECAP priorities as someone else said). First hurdle was notion of a turboprop and impact on OA-X (ACC and A5R were focused on a jet until CSAF took the Navy Imminent Fury (IF) brief last year). IF (currently using a Super Tucano) became a forcing function and the ANG AATC evaluation of the AT-6B (now flying at Nellis for JEFX) became not a sideshow, but a hot topic. hence, I concur with the out of touch with reality comment. Furthermore, CSAF and CNo and SOCOM have a signed MOA to put the capability into theatre with support of SECDEF himself so I don't get where it's being swallowed up by any bureaucracy. Heck, GEN Mattis himself (JFCOM) testified before Congress on it in early March and folks at high levels listen to what he says.

As an operator, my biggest gripe is the incorporation of a WSO into slow FAC'in. Everyone wants to draw parallels with FACs of yore. And while some (not all) of FAC platforms - A-1, O-1, O-2, OV-10, A-10, F-100 - had two seats, exactly zero carried a nav or a WSO. I think this would be a great mission but if it ends up working like Strike Eagle CAS ("Hey pilot, don't mask my targeting pod, and talk on the radio only by exception!") then you can keep it.

Hmm, how many pilots are volunteering to ride in the trunk (of anything)? Granted, some do when faced with IA/GSA draft. As to needing 2 aircrew to work the mission, I haven't talked to anyone close to the mission with experience who doesn't think that's the right answer and some platforms have more. It just ain't your daddy's or uncle's or maybe your CAS/FAC (A). Maybe that's true for LAAR, but the IF Dudes have stepped up the game so-to-speak and a crew of two seems to be the answer. BTW - last heard they have pilots and WSOs in back and USAF is full partner when they transition. More interesting is right quals to get in the seat (type aircraft experience to FAC (A) or JTAC qual, etc.) and whether it will a Guard or Big Blue heritage (AFSOC at top level is disinterested despite lots of lower level interest; and where are the Marines? LTGEN Trautman seems focused on their AC-130 Lite = Harvest Hawk whereas his predecessor was calling for return of OV-10).

Edited by Scribe

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Schwartz Shoots Down COIN Plane

By Greg Grant Thursday, May 6th, 2010 2:48 pm

Posted in Air, International, Policy

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.

Schwartz did identify an existing capability gap: an aircraft that can be used to train nascent foreign air arms. It should be something in the U.S. Air Force inventory, so that foreign pilots become familiar with it and then foreign nations are encouraged to buy the same aircraft in some quantities.

To that end, in 2012, the Air Force will hold a competition to buy 15 light strike and surveillance aircraft, probably propeller driven, he said. But these aircraft would be used as trainers, to build “partner capacity” with foreign air forces, specifically those in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The idea is a modest cost platform, one that can perform the light strike mission or surveillance, as the case may be, and do so that can be readily assimilated and operated within the means of our army air corps counterparts.”

Last summer, the Air Force requested aircraft manufacturers provide designs for a Light Attack Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft. Many had speculated this meant the Air Force would be adding a LAAR air wing. Schwartz made clear that is not the case. The LAAR aircraft will be used as trainers, owned and operated by the Air Force, to train foreign pilots in low end missions.

In March, Joint Forces Command’s Gen. James Mattis, told the Senate Armed Services Committee, that the military needs a light fighter for irregular warfare. “Today’s approach of loitering multi-million dollar aircraft and using a system of systems procedure for the approval and employment of airpower is not the most effective use of aviation fires in this irregular fight,” he said.

A recent RAND report, titled “Courses of Action for Enhancing U.S. Air Force Irregular Warfare Capabilities,” said the service should stand up a dedicated COIN air wing equipped with about 100 of the currently undefined “OA-X” light attack aircraft. Such an aircraft would greatly facilitate partnering with Iraqi and Afghan aviators, while lowering the costs and reducing excessive flying hour demands for high-performance aircraft such as the F-16.

Additionally, as “partners are more likely to want aircraft that U.S. forces are flying to great effect,” building and operating a COIN aircraft would simultaneously boost support for ground troops while “whetting the appetite of partners who are prematurely looking to acquire high-performance jet aircraft such as the F-16.”

The U.S. Navy’s new Irregular Warfare office, under its “Imminent Fury” project, has been eyeing the Brazilian Super Tucano turboprop to provide close air support to special operations forces

Read more: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2010/05/06/schwartz-shoots-down-light-fighter/#ixzz0nFAzkqYM

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So they want to cut down on fighter numbers because their mission in today's war can be fought better by other aircraft (UAVs), but then Schwartz says our current inventory can adequate handle the CAS role in COIN ops. Even though we "dont like" UAVs, we can all agree that a predator cannot fill a CAS/COIN role like a supposed LAAR platform, or our current inventory. What the CSAF says doesn't quite make sense.

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So they want to cut down on fighter numbers because their mission in today's war can be fought better by other aircraft (UAVs), but then Schwartz says our current inventory can adequate handle the CAS role in COIN ops. Even though we "dont like" UAVs, we can all agree that a predator cannot fill a CAS/COIN role like a supposed LAAR platform, or our current inventory. What the CSAF says doesn't quite make sense.

because the trade-off would be less $$$...fighters or not, this will be an AF-funded line item (my guess). Shwartz is owned by others.

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Wonder what drove this about-face.

My guess, a force management issue for two reasons;

1. The RPV/U-28/RC-12 programs have consumed most of the extra fight pilots and an ever growing portion of UPT graduates.

2. There is most certainly a force reduction on the horizon, as the wars draw-down in the next few years and the budget crisis grows, there will be enormous pressure to reduce the size of the force and it will be difficult (but not impossible), to field this in large numbers, especially if the intent was to establish an IW wing (like I am in favor of).

The disconnect that I see is the cost savings. SECDEF is putting a lot of pressure on the system to limit costs. CNXing the F-22 and other big systems, coming out (STS), in the press this week calling for a smaller pay raise for the military, and over the weekend more questions about the size of the military's TACAIR programs/fleet. Also, Light-attack fits what QDR and a lot of the thought coming out of think tanks, we will likely fight small wars for the next 10 years, light-attack makes sense financially, tactically, and strategically. CSAF said our traditional platforms will continue to provide the capability which will cost a LOT more, in some cases 10X the cost of light-attack.

This story is FAR from over and I suspect there is a LOT more going on behind the scenes.

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Guest jeffreyfrog

Just read the article about it in AgAir Update. Seems like a natural progression for the 802 airframe. They were already being used for illegal narcotic suppression, and had armored cockpits in those models so the move to a gunship is not a very big leap. Reminds me of the A-1 skyraiders of the Viet Nam era. Apparently that is what the mission will resemble too, close in air support of infantry and similar missions. Tough airframe, reliable engine, flexible configuration for armament and crew members. The aircraft can actually be configured to accomodate from 2 to 4 crewmembers, depending on how they choose to configure the "hopper bay". That leads me to believe that down the road it may be a platform for electronic warfare. Seems like a nice lower-tech solution to fill a mission need. I've never flown a tractor, all of my ag time has been in ag cats, but I really like the design of the air tractors, especially those equipped with the PT-6.

Post another advertising link in your reply and you'll be banned in a heartbeat!

Edited by M2

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