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I'm expecting tar and feathers, but here goes anyway:

If they are wanted in three years, what good will they do?

We will be out or on our way out of Afghanistan. There is no way to "win" there, and eventually the One will cave to public pressure to exit. Iraq we will leave with some sort of half-ass functioning government. If they screw it up after we're gone, we can say it's their fault.

In Afghanistan, what is the point? Kill bad guys sure, but for how long? At what point does our ability to keep tens of thousands of troops with the national treasure expenditure rate outweigh the killing of bad guys?

Then what do we do with them? I think there is a reason low/slow types were withdrawn from Vietnam and retired from the USAF - beside money which was the main point in canning the USAF OV-10 and OA-37. The USMC relearned the hard lessons during Desert Storm of low and slow and also retired their Broncos.

Argentina didn't fare too well with their Pucaras during the Falklands.

Anybody with any sort of AAA/manpad threat will negate these things and then what?

I understand guys want to fly and that the F-35 will not really replace the A-10. But a 'cheap' COIN aircraft is just going to get guys killed in the next fight.

How about new A-10s or an A-10 replacement?

And, probably most blasphemous (sp?) of all, what does an AT-6 bring to most fights that an AH-64 can't?

Yeah, I know, shut up retired ABM...

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Anybody with any sort of AAA/manpad threat will negate these things and then what

If that was true, there would be no helicopters in combat. Also, since when did a threat mean we don't fly? Where does this zero risk come from? What happened to "spouting their flames from under" and all that. Anyway, no system no matter how good is a 100%.

edited for spelling.

Edited by OverTQ

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Brick hit on all of the points I was too lazy to type. I think ClearedHot's argument makes the most sense. This is a way for us to "give" (aka sell) low cost, low tech, airplanes to 3rd world Air Forces. I don't buy the low/slow CAS argument, then again I'm no CAS expert. Look at the Russian HINDs in Afghanistan. 60,000 Stinger missiles later and a lot of dead Russians.

Don't get me started on the helicopter argument. The Apaches in Kosovo were an absolute disaster!

Edited by BeerMan

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Also, since when did a threat mean we don't fly?

What was the altitude restriction for Madeline Albright's war, er, I mean Kosovo?

I don't advocate a no threat or we don't fly; I think many guys have died trying to hack the mission in equipment ill-suited for the task. And I salute that kind of courage, we don't win without it.

I do advocate buying the right equipment for the fight. The AT-6 or Super Tucano can be a big player today - I defer totally to those that know the mission/threat - but in three years outside of Afghanistan?

Many supposedly smart people, SECDEF included, are jumping completely into the next war will be an insurgency.

Maybe.

Pisser if he's wrong. Lots of examples where we planned for the last war and took it in the shorts when the new conflict wasn't that way.

Buy both AT-6s and a new A-10 type and I'm all for it.

Trying to go cheap and I'm not such a fan.

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Brick hit on all of the points I was too lazy to type. I think ClearedHot's argument makes the most sense. This is a way for us to "give" (aka sell) low cost, low tech, airplanes to 3rd world Air Forces. I don't buy the low/slow CAS argument, then again I'm no CAS expert. Look at the Russian HINDs in Afghanistan. 60,000 Stinger missiles later and a lot of dead Russians.

Don't get me started on the helicopter argument. The Apaches in Kosovo were an absolute disaster!

An AT-6 sq would be perfect for Afghanistan. Long loiter time with an actual pod on board + gun would be a good addition over there vs UAV's. The T-6 would be a good in between to bridge the gap between UAV's and A-10's as long as it has a gun pod on board.

The AT-6 would be limited to Afghan type scenarios and I agree its probably the next great 3rd world export along the lines of the F-5 program. Single engine anything will get slaughtered in a low CAS scenario by Manpads and AAA vs an enemy with any real capes.

So who is going to fly the thing and what command do you think it will fall under? Weren't they setting up a program like this out of Hurlburt not too long ago but then it got the axe?

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I don't think we'll be out of Afghanistan in three years. Almost certainly there will be a reduction in the number of troops there, but so long as there are still Al Qeada and Taliban types running around AFPAK we will still be there. No Politician wants to pull out, then have any type of terrorist attack happen and be blamed for it.

Another place these things could be useful is in Africa. We are still setting up AFRICOM, and aside from humanitarian aid; if we ever intervene with force (like say in Darfur or the next African genocide) these type of aircraft could be useful.

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For the guys who've flown a T-6/AT-6: What will the performance be when rolling in for a straffe run on an 14k' Afghani mountain? I haven't flown the T-6, but it seems like that would be more suited to the COIN mission in the low-lands only??? Take the normal T-6, add X thousand pounds of bullets, rockets, armor, defensive suite, seat kit & what have you.... increase the drag index exponentially with all the stuff hanging from it, then take it to Colorado and pull your safe escape maneuver on a 14k' mountain...

Again, I'm just asking, but it seems like a tall order. For those of you who've flown it: are there any plans to hop up the turbine? I know a guy who just came through TY that worked on the AT-6 requirements program, he told me about the armor deal.

Sounds like a fun mission, as long as the tactics can evolve to make it survivable vs the more advanced AAA/Manpad threat.

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Don't get me started on the helicopter argument. The Apaches in Kosovo were an absolute disaster

TF Hawk was planned because the FW (notice I didn't say AF) could not win the war by itself. It's disaster was in the planning and politics. Gunships work best in support of ground troops. Not by themselves. It is also not a good idea to strap a 230 gallon fuel tank to the outside of the aircraft that fly's in small arms range. As for the helicopter argument. There will be a day when they are not longer of use. But that ain't today

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TF Hawk was planned because the FW (notice I didn't say AF) could not win the war by itself. It's disaster was in the planning and politics. Gunships work best in support of ground troops. Not by themselves. It is also not a good idea to strap a 230 gallon fuel tank to the outside of the aircraft that fly's in small arms range. As for the helicopter argument. There will be a day when they are not longer of use. But that ain't today

I think if it were a perfect world I'd start with an OV-10 concept (twin engine, good load and loiter) make sure I had reasonably powerful engines for high altitude use, and especially redesign the exhaust routing to avoid those God-awful bronze heater magnets easily visible from the ground (on either the OV, AT-6, or Tucano). But, there aren't many perfect worlds...

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These aren't for the defense of the Taiwan Strait.

ClearedHot's right on. These are going to be COIN/FID aircraft. 6SOS can't do everything. Instead of training the Iraqis to fly Caravans with IPs who have 20 hours in a C208, they'll (AF of country X) get trained by guys who have a boatload of hours in an airframe that's practical and sustainable for a developing nation's military (see also Light Lift requirement). Then they (theoretically) are able to handle stuff in their country so we don't have to.

Don't think IW in the same terms as major combat -- the conventional wisdom that IW in general is a "lesser included case" of force-on-force warfare is why we have F-16s and F-15Es doing strafing runs, rather than something designed specificially for COIN.

"They" also said the A-10 was a relic unsurvivable in a MEZ.

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Guest Flyin' AF Hawaiian

For those of you who've flown it: are there any plans to hop up the turbine?

From what I remember, the PT-6 engine used on the T-6A was reduced from something like 1400 to 1100 horsepower for training purposes. I don't think it would be too hard to remove the engine governing for the full 1400 hp.

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For the guys who've flown a T-6/AT-6: What will the performance be when rolling in for a straffe run on an 14k' Afghani mountain? I haven't flown the T-6, but it seems like that would be more suited to the COIN mission in the low-lands only??? Take the normal T-6, add X thousand pounds of bullets, rockets, armor, defensive suite, seat kit & what have you.... increase the drag index exponentially with all the stuff hanging from it, then take it to Colorado and pull your safe escape maneuver on a 14k' mountain...

I flew the AT-6B and did an assessment for the USAF, performance is truly excellent. In the clean configuration the aircraft will do positive energy loops up 10 16K, as I recall I was able to gain 300' doing a loop at 12K. Adding weapons (rockets, .50 Cal guns, and bombs), as well as a sensor pod will increase the weight and drag, but in my opinion the AT-6B still has plenty of performance even for Afghanistan.

From what I remember, the PT-6 engine used on the T-6A was reduced from something like 1400 to 1100 horsepower for training purposes. I don't think it would be too hard to remove the engine governing for the full 1400 hp.

Already done, the AT-6B has 1400 SHP. The increased power as well as the weapons load does require a mod to the wing spar, but that was an easy fix.

I would post the entire assessment but I don't want to bore you to tears but in summary I found it extremely easy to fly with mostly very forgiving traits, easy to see why it is a trainer.

I did identify roll rate as a small issue and I was likely being overly sensitive since I could find little else wrong with the plane or the avionics. I don't like to fly straight and level, especially in combat, as a result I do a lot of belly checks. I found that at slower speeds, especially when setting up a perch that the roll rate was less than what I expected. It was not gross, just not what I expected and actually perfectly normal given a straight wing trainer.

Overall, I would fly the plane in combat tomorrow.

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Guest Krabs

How about new A-10s or an A-10 replacement?

Best solution IMO. Just gotta make sure the engines can handle a larger altitude range this time around.

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Best solution IMO. Just gotta make sure the engines can handle a larger altitude range this time around.

Not....please think with your brain and not your heart.

The A-10 is a great airplane, but far to expensive and complicated for the COIN roll.

Remember the objective is to spend a finite amount of time deployed to the Parter Nation teaching them how to fly and maintain the aircraft, then leave it with them to fly and MAINTAIN on their own.

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Guest Krabs

Not....please think with your brain and not your heart.

Point taken.

The A-10 is a great airplane, but far to expensive and complicated for the COIN roll.

I'm going to come off like a jacakss but I assure you it's all in good fun:

COIN roll: SuperStock_1570R-116883.jpg

COIN role: 1417489425_28b0274b71.jpg

Remember the objective is to spend a finite amount of time deployed to the Parter Nation teaching them how to fly and maintain the aircraft, then leave it with them to fly and MAINTAIN on their own.

If we are leaving the aircraft there then wouldn't something already out there and fairly prevalent like the Super Tucano, be an easier choice? The AT-6 kicks ass, but why use it when it's going to be left behind? Setting the stage for American product/maintenance/support dependence, and therefore, leverage?

Maybe we should leave some SA-38Bs with them for ISR/C2 as well?

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If we are leaving the aircraft there then wouldn't something already out there and fairly prevalent like the Super Tucano, be an easier choice? The AT-6 kicks ass, but why use it when it's going to be left behind? Setting the stage for American product/maintenance/support dependence, and therefore, leverage?

Maybe we should leave some SA-38Bs with them for ISR/C2 as well?

I'd say with hundreds of T-6II's in AETC, they are fairly prevalent as well. Additionally, we already have huge maintenance infrastructure set up for the AT-6B.

You are exactly correct on the second part.

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Guest Krabs

I'd say with hundreds of T-6II's in AETC, they are fairly prevalent as well. Additionally, we already have huge maintenance infrastructure set up for the AT-6B.

You are exactly correct on the second part.

Forgive my dumb questions...

Obviously the T-6 airframe is all over the place, but how much does it cost to first convert to AT-6 capability, before even getting it to a partner nation? Also, would the "huge maintenance infrastructure" be a hindrance? Getting that kind of support set up in a partner nation cant be easy (for any airplane, not just the AT-6), so would the Tucano have any benefits in that respect?

It sounds like I'm not a fan of the AT-6 even though I very much like the idea. I'm just wondering what unnecessary ass pain we would bring on ourselves by going the home-grown route on something like this particular situation.

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I flew the AT-6B and did an assessment for the USAF, performance is truly excellent. In the clean configuration the aircraft will do positive energy loops up 10 16K, as I recall I was able to gain 300' doing a loop at 12K. Adding weapons (rockets, .50 Cal guns, and bombs), as well as a sensor pod will increase the weight and drag, but in my opinion the AT-6B still has plenty of performance even for Afghanistan.

Has anyone flown it with all the external stores? I know that the basic airframe is very capable, but I still wonder what the survivability is of a low, slow (relatively) single engine aircraft carrying all that stuff that you need to get fairly close to your work. Again, I hope it's the right airframe for it, the mission sounds like a blast and something I'd be interested in since I'm on my last tour in the Eagle. I just hope that we actually test the combat version (in it's final form) in an area that is similar to what we are buying it for. (current AORs) Anyone know of any plans to do that?

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I think an A-10 type addition would a good idea. Why did we get that jet in the first place? Because some third world gomers one generation from the stone age were puncing holes in small prop planes, high speed jets, and helos and knocking them out of the sky with low tech weapons while the troops on the ground needed better CAS. No need to reinvent the wheel or, worse, ignore history and make the same mistake.

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I think an A-10 type addition would a good idea. Why did we get that jet in the first place? Because some third world gomers one generation from the stone age were puncing holes in small prop planes, high speed jets, and helos and knocking them out of the sky with low tech weapons while the troops on the ground needed better CAS. No need to reinvent the wheel or, worse, ignore history and make the same mistake.

I agree the A-10 is one helluva platform but as was mentioned the cost is out of sight for a lot of countries. For that matter we don't have infinite funding either. Props are just going to be less expensive. I also know that there are 1000 reasons turbo-props have advantages over pistons too. The biggest vulnerabilty to the props as I see it are heat-seeking MANPADS. To beat/mitigate that threat we need to have a better designed exhaust system. Pistons don't put out the heat turbines do. Maybe that't the way to go from a powerplant perspective high altitude performance not withstanding. We lost 2 Apaches and a civilian MI-8 to those Manpads in my AO back when. Either way until the IR signature is supressed/addressed low and slow is a really dangerous place to be. Of course it still out of range of most IEDS.

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Guest FlyByCable

This might work.

http://g2globalsolutions.com/review/?p=2186

COIN Debate: another look at the PA-48

DoD Buzz ran this story last week about the COIN Air Wing looking increasingly likely in the near term. While the Air Force is likely to go for an existing OTS solution, a look back at the USAF PAVE COIN in the early 1980s produced this very interesting design from Piper Aircraft. Worth another look? Perhaps… The business case might be slightly complicated for such an untested design.

The fact that COIN aircraft are garnering more discussion speaks to the need for persistent (manned or unmanned) ISR and strike. In spite of ever-greater MQ-1 and MQ-9 availabilities demand still outstrips supply in the critical time-sensitive target area. G2’s work in persistent, unmanned ISR points to this trend, while the potential for manned COIN aircraft based upon existing designs is touted as a way to less expensively bring capabilities to theater in short order.

From the Air Force Website:

“The Enforcer is a turboprop-powered light close-support/ground-attack aircraft built by Piper Aircraft Corp. Lakeland, Fla. It is based on the well-known North American P-51 of World War II fame. By direction of Congress, the USAF evaluated the aircraft, beginning in 1983. Testing was conducted in 1984 and the Air Force decided not to order the Enforcer.

Since the Enforcer was never in the Air Force inventory, it was not given an official military designation and did not receive an Air Force serial number. Instead, it carries the Piper designation PA-48 and Federal Aviation Administration registration number N481PE. Although the airframe resembles that of the P-51, the Enforcer is essentially a new aircraft.”

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From the Air Force Website:

“The Enforcer is a turboprop-powered light close-support/ground-attack aircraft built by Piper Aircraft Corp. Lakeland, Fla. It is based on the well-known North American P-51 of World War II fame. By direction of Congress, the USAF evaluated the aircraft, beginning in 1983. Testing was conducted in 1984 and the Air Force decided not to order the Enforcer.

Since the Enforcer was never in the Air Force inventory, it was not given an official military designation and did not receive an Air Force serial number. Instead, it carries the Piper designation PA-48 and Federal Aviation Administration registration number N481PE. Although the airframe resembles that of the P-51, the Enforcer is essentially a new aircraft.”

If anyone is at Edwards, there is a PA-48 in the little junk yard thing at Rosamond and Forbes. Freakin' bad ass looking. Actually, you can see it in google maps http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=edwards+afb&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=33.764224,78.662109&ie=UTF8&ll=34.940464,-117.89764&spn=0.002133,0.004801&t=h&z=18

it's the a/c at the north end of the yard facing due south. I wonder if they'll ever do anything with it...

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Forgive my dumb questions...

Obviously the T-6 airframe is all over the place, but how much does it cost to first convert to AT-6 capability, before even getting it to a partner nation? Also, would the "huge maintenance infrastructure" be a hindrance? Getting that kind of support set up in a partner nation cant be easy (for any airplane, not just the AT-6), so would the Tucano have any benefits in that respect?

It sounds like I'm not a fan of the AT-6 even though I very much like the idea. I'm just wondering what unnecessary ass pain we would bring on ourselves by going the home-grown route on something like this particular situation.

The conversion cost is minimal. Total flyaway cost for a new airframe modified to AT-6B is less than $10 Million. As for the maintenance infrastructure I am referring to the depot level maintenance capability. For many countries we support with foreign sales we include depot level maintenance in the package. I remember my dad flying to Egypt to pick up F-4s and bring them home for depot. Also, we are not going to give all 100 away at the same time, we will retain a large number in our squadrons so being able to lean on the current stateside T-6 maintenance capability will save a lot of money.

I think an A-10 type addition would a good idea. Why did we get that jet in the first place? Because some third world gomers one generation from the stone age were puncing holes in small prop planes, high speed jets, and helos and knocking them out of the sky with low tech weapons while the troops on the ground needed better CAS. No need to reinvent the wheel or, worse, ignore history and make the same mistake.

Again, too expensive and we are not making them anymore.

Blah blah blah

Absolutely untrue. Why does everyone assume a COIN aircraft is going to be down in the mud. With the sensors and weapons we have today it is simply not necessary to loiter at 500'.

With an even moderately priced sensor ball the AT-6B could easily loiter unobserved at medium altitude. Add something like SDB and it might never drop below 10K.

By the way, MANPDS are everywhere to assume otherwise could be a fatal mistake.

Edited by HerkDerka

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