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AF Light Air Support Aircraft

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Kinda sounds like an updated version of the A-9.

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Looks like a Tomcat of old

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Is it possible that by quickly mothballing the A-10 the Air Force is intentionally creating a capability gap to drive the purchase of a Fifth-Gen designated CAS airplane?

In 2009 a buddy of mine was at Oshkosh and heard a Cessna higher-up talking to AF officials about building a new CAS jet. Well, this is that airplane. Congress would never pay for another new platform with the F-22 and F-35 debacles, and the outstanding performance of the A-10 as a CAS platform (no apparent "need" for a new jet). However, with all services screaming for a designated CAS airplane, and the desire of the Air Force to be all Fifth-Gen, this new Cessna jet is positioned very well to have a future.

If all of this is intentional, it's genius negotiating strategy with Congress and the other services, assuming we don't have another ground war in the next 5 or so years.

Edited by Pancake
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Is it possible that by quickly mothballing the A-10 the Air Force is intentionally creating a capability gap to drive the purchase of a Fifth-Gen designated CAS airplane?

No

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Wow. Insightful response.

My bad. This is BO.net. Continue bitching...

Edited by Pancake
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You asked a yes or no question. What the fuck do you want?

No, it's not possible. This one is completely money related. There is no vast conspiracy to axe the A-10 in order to develop a 5th gen pure CAS platform. What exactly would be 5th gen about it, by the way? Stealthy? No real need for that. If we're doing down n'dirty CAS A-10 style, they pretty much know we're there without a radar, don't they? Advanced sensor fusion? Advanced handling? Advanced propulsion?

The money crunch is real. Very very real. It is not some manufactured illusion to mask secret plans or a military-industrial complex conspiracy.

Is that better?

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That's better. Thanks.

I'm not so sure about the money argument. If money really was a problem, we'd continue the tiered readiness, have cut programs already, closed facilities, cut services,etc...

This whole budget mess is about leveraging. No matter how much $$ DoD gets, all services are going to get a cut. The real challenge is convincing Congress how much of a cut we should get, driven by need. I think all DoD agrees the F-35 isn't going to fill the gap (sts) left by the Hog going away. The absence seems to be a glaring need that attracts DoD $$. The alternative is pouring more money into the A-10 at the detriment of future CAS capability. I believe the second alternative of abandoning a CAS platform is considered intolerable by the USA and USMC.

As far as Fifth Gen, some stealth would be useful in a denied environment. At least a smaller radar cross section than the A-10. Speed, better G, better ECM, better data link capability (ability to talk to F-22 and F-35), appropriate busses for future weapons, etc... Then consider that passive a passive detection network that identifies and counters contemporary and emerging threats (think tactical SA-teens/twenties), identifies movers, collects ECM data, etc., eliminates the need for AWACS, JSTARS, and likely a bunch of stuff that I'm not even aware of. These are a just a few things that the 35 year-old platform lacks in what the AF leadership considers the future AOB/GOB. In regards to $$, what saves more, eliminating the A-10 and dealing with the repercussions of degraded CAS among the sister services, or getting a new CAS platform that eliminates the need for a host of support aircraft (E-3, E-8, HARMs, A/A cap, MQ-1/MQ-9, etc...)? Now factor in the reduction in associated reduced personnel costs...

The AF is aware of its customers' needs. Heck, we did convoys in Iraq to justify our existence (stupid). I'm pretty sure the AF leadership realizes if we fail to provide A-10 level CAS, we're damaging our relevance. The AF is notorious radically responding to these budget "crises" in order to achieve their true objectives.

We may not see a dedicated CAS platform in the inventory for a few years, but I suspect something is on the way/in development. This Cessna thing, which again, I heard about in 2009, might be it, especially if the cost is low and acquisition process is simplified.

We didn't need smartphones until Apple told us we did. They created demand. By mothballing the A-10, the AF is creating demand for a Fifth-Gen CAS platform to replace the current 35 year-old jet. Simply saying the A-10 is old doesn't drive need. Forcing the issue by getting rid of the plane does, however.

The money is out there. We will eventually buy new jets beyond F-35 and KC-46. The Air Force leadership might actually be thinking 15-20 years ahead of themselves by driving the need for a new CAS jet now, rather than continuing to fly the Hog for another 15 years.

Or they might be really short-sighted idiots...

BTW... This sums up just about every BO.net discussion. Thanks for keeping it real.

Edited by Pancake
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The money is out there.

You're so uninformed I actually feel bad for you.

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You're so uninformed I actually feel bad for you.

Touche, man. You got me.

When I stop flying at the rate I fly and lose the ability to earn a 20-year AD retirement, I'll believe we're out of money.

Edited by Pancake
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As far as Fifth Gen, some stealth would be useful in a denied environment. At least a smaller radar cross section than the A-10. Speed, better G, better ECM, better data link capability (ability to talk to F-22 and F-35), appropriate busses for future weapons, etc... Then consider that passive a passive detection network that identifies and counters contemporary and emerging threats (think tactical SA-teens/twenties), identifies movers, collects ECM data, etc., eliminates the need for AWACS, JSTARS, and likely a bunch of stuff that I'm not even aware of. These are a just a few things that the 35 year-old platform lacks in what the AF leadership considers the future AOB/GOB. In regards to $$, what saves more, eliminating the A-10 and dealing with the repercussions of degraded CAS among the sister services, or getting a new CAS platform that eliminates the need for a host of support aircraft (E-3, E-8, HARMs, A/A cap, MQ-1/MQ-9, etc...)? Now factor in the reduction in associated reduced personnel costs...

Dude. Do you really think HARMs only exist to protect A-10s? Or that we only do OCA/DCA caps for a CAS fight? Or that AWACS & JSTARS only exist to support A-10s and said CAS fight?

You have some 3-1 reading to do my friend. Take a bottle of whiskey to your nearest Weapons Officer immediately and have a talk (mostly you listening) about how the AF fights a full up war.

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AF: We're retiring the A-10.

Army: We'll take em.

Marines: We'll pay to take em.

AF: But we have this new F-35.

Marines and Army, at the same time: does it have a 30mm that strikes fear into the gut of our enemy? Jinx, you owe me a beer.

AF: no, but it has this new fancy deal where..

Marines: shut it.

And there you have it folks. The man on the ground has a love affair with the Hog. So much so that I can actually see them trying to take over flying the plane. I wonder why?

Out

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The man on the ground has a love affair with the Hog. So much so that I can actually see them trying to take over flying the plane. I wonder why?

One little problem with your theory...if we dont have the money, where are they going to come up with the money?

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And there you have it folks. The man on the ground has a love affair with the Hog. So much so that I can actually see them trying to take over flying the plane. I wonder why?

This is not an Army/Marine fight. The A-10 is being sacrificed on the altar of the F-35 and KC-46. Period.

The Army/Navy/Marines are making the same sacrifices. When push comes to shove, those services are not going to sacrifice combat capability in the form of Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in order to take on the responsibility of paying for the training, maintenance, and fielding of the A-10 in their service.

It is "circle the wagons" time my friends.

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One little problem with your theory...if we dont have the money, where are they going to come up with the money?

$500 toilet seats. Want one?

Out

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Dude. Do you really think HARMs only exist to protect A-10s? Or that we only do OCA/DCA caps for a CAS fight? Or that AWACS & JSTARS only exist to support A-10s and said CAS fight?

You have some 3-1 reading to do my friend. Take a bottle of whiskey to your nearest Weapons Officer immediately and have a talk (mostly you listening) about how the AF fights a full up war.

Talk about ignoring context and the rest of the paragraph! Geez, man... Strategic bolding, though. Good job!

So you're saying that improved data link, stealth (F-22/F-35/B-2), improved passive sensing and radars, other stuff that we won't talk about here don't eliminate the need for a lot of that 1980s technology (AWACS, SEAD/DEAD, JSTARS, etc...) for AF assets of all types and missions? Then what's the point of spending all the $$ on new tech? Why not keep keep all the Eagles, Hogs, Block 30 Vipers and bring back the Phantoms and Aardvarks? We need to justify the existence of all those 707 airframes!

The Air Force is trying to fundamentally change the way we fight wars through technology. Remember reading about computers that were the size of your living room but had less power than a calculator, and how you have more processing power in your iPhone than what we had to put dudes on the moon? If 5th Gen fighter systems can eliminate the need for a swath of support assets, to include the associated personnel, I think we can maintain (or expand) our capability at a lower long-term cost with a smaller footprint.

But you're right, we should keep doing things the same old way... I better get back to the vault!

Edited by Pancake
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I thinks better argument is about fighting today's war versus tomorrow's war. The past 10 years have been so CAS centric that's all most AF war fighters tend to think about. Sure, some wars may break down into that eventually, but definitely not at first and possibly not at all.

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One little problem with your theory...if we dont have the money, where are they going to come up with the money?

We don't have the money? Because leadership says so? My buddy at WPAFB recently had leadership give him $750K of money they "just found" to work on a cancelled project! You don't see any politicking here? Cutting the Thunderbirds and Blue Angles, and implementing tiered readiness (only to turn flying hours back on when we scare Congress into giving us more money) is the best we can do to thwart this budget "crisis?" IMO, this whole budget thing is just another manufactured crisis that we've all wisely swallowed (sts), hook, line and sinker (to create this "sky is falling" mentality, essentially a perpetual crisis). Do we need to curb reckless spending, a broken acquisition system, and restructure the force? Absolutely! But we have money for things we need as long as we stop spending money on things we don't need/don't contribute to equipping, training, and fighting.

What doesn't make sense to me is the idea many share on this board that the F-35 and KC-46 are the last two airplanes we'll ever buy. The Air Force will continue to develop and acquire new platforms, despite today's budget woes. If you consider the backlash the AF received in Iraq for "not doing their part," how valuable CAS is to promoting the AF's relevance, and the best way to solicit congressional funding (by creating another "crisis" with a service-wide absence of a dedicated CAS platform) for future projects, all of this appears to me as Politicking 101. Sure, the A-10 may be cut in in the next couple of years, probably in the name of F-35/KC-46. But I think it's naive to believe the AF doesn't have tertiary plans for a dedicated CAS airplane that can integrate/contribute in modern/future battlespace.

As an A-10 guy, I don't want to see the jet go. I love it and its mission(s), helping the guys on the ground, and want to fly it until I quit the AF. But if cutting the A-10 now leads to a modern dedicated CAS platform, I am for that (despite the expense of no 30mm and loss of organic CAS expertise) versus flying the A-10 for another 15 years with nothing on the horizon to replace it. Sort of a "Peace Dividend." The current environment doesn't allow bridging, and with the war weariness of this country, military planners and leaders are literally betting their careers/reputations/potentially the lives of 19 year-old "Joes" that we won't fight a ground war for the next 5-10 years, which allows them to justify sacrificing the A-10 now.

Leadership will sell the elimination of the A-10 however they need to. I don't believe for a second that Welsh and Goldfein think there's no need for a dedicated CAS airplane. However, getting rid of the A-10 might be what they need to do today in order to get a better A-10 replacement tomorrow (not literally "tomorrow," because as we all know, there is no money...*sarcasm*).

Edited by Pancake
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Here's a little flame bait...

Dude. Do you really think HARMs only exist to protect A-10s? Or that we only do OCA/DCA caps for a CAS fight? Or that AWACS & JSTARS only exist to support A-10s and said CAS fight?

You can shoot down every MiG the Soviets employ, but if you return to base and the lead Soviet tank commander is eating breakfast in your snack bar, Jack, you've lost the war

— Anonymous A-10 Pilot, USAF

So yeah, the whole Air Force machine boils down to supporting the friendlies on the ground by killing the proverbial enemy tank commanders. Ha Ha!

Edited by Pancake
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We don't have the money? Because leadership says so? My buddy at WPAFB recently had leadership give him $750K of money they "just found" to work on a cancelled project!

$750k pays for less than 50 A-10 flying hours. That's roughly 2 days of home station flying for one squadron.

We're going to have to "just find" a lot more than that.

Edited by Danny Noonin
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$750k pays for less than 50 A-10 flying hours. That's roughly 2 days of home station flying for one squadron.

We're going to have to "just find" a lot more than that.

Yeah, that was one dude on one project. It's prolific and a symptom of our organizational mental sickness (OCD)! But where did I suggest "problem solved?"

I'm not saying finding "lost" money is the answer to deficits, but there is so much waste, irrelevant, and legacy money out there that with my mainstream AF major view of how this organization is funded, I'm sure we can make some significant cuts and be a more capable and efficient force than we are now, specifically as new platforms become drastically more capable in missions/systems that previously required multiple platforms. The wild card is the "bridge."

The power of bureaucracy and empire building/protection is still very entrenched... hence the need to manufacture a crisis (BTW, Organizational Change 101) Actually, I think Gen Welsh is handling this fiscal environment with deliberate precision on coming out of this without sacrificing capability over a 10-20 year timeline. It won't happen on his watch, but that's why you build legacies/staffs who will continue your work.

Gen Welsh doesn't need to convince pilots about fundamental org change. He needs to convince Congress, the sister services, and the tax payers. "Crisis" is just about the only way to get their attention.

If we get into a ground war without A-10s or a dedicated replacement and lots of friendlies die, then this approach to rebuilding the AF fails. If this approach succeeds, Gen Welsh (future CoS Gen Goldfein?) will be lauded as one of the greatest CoS in AF history. But that's why those guys get paid the big bucks... to make the really, really tough decisions. And the A-10 is only a small piece of what's on the table to get cut. It just seems to be the one thing garnering all the attention.

So, how about that new Cessna attack jet? Sure beats the light attack aircraft, if you ask me!

Edited by Pancake
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I thinks better argument is about fighting today's war versus tomorrow's war. The past 10 years have been so CAS centric that's all most AF war fighters tend to think about. Sure, some wars may break down into that eventually, but definitely not at first and possibly not at all.

Sweet, we'll never get into a ground war again! We can axe all of the regular infantry and tank units, too, that'll save a ton of cash.

As long as the Army has armored vehicles and dudes walking around on patrol, the A-10 will have a customer.

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If we get into a ground war without A-10s or a dedicated replacement and lots of friendlies die

Hyperbole much? As a fellow slow kid at play, I'm as big an A-10 fan as anyone but entire wars won't hinge on its existence.

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