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AF Light Air Support Aircraft

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23 hours ago, Lawman said:

 


This might be a crazy idea.... but maybe stop committing to weapon systems

i haven't seen any commitment at all from big blue. rather i've seen cold feet and indecision.

LA has a role to play in low intensity conflicts. and you're right 50 cal vs Dshk/ZPU wouldn't be fun...but that wont be the first option to destroy those targets (obviously).

AFSOC 11F's are pretty much gone. 38 trained guys are becoming more scarce as well with no 38 trained students back filling them in greater numbers.

no reason t-1 trained dudes couldnt get trained for this skill set. i think a t-6 light attack focused top off course would make a lot of sense.

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3 hours ago, Standby said:

The single seat mentality coupled with tactical formation experience gives them a leg up on people who have lived in the crew world. We all know the gunship is fvcking beast and does great work, but the employment dynamic is polar opposite from the one or two person interaction in a small aircraft. Nothing will ever replace experience and the AFSOC flyers with CAS stink have an infinite advantage but there is also something to be said for young, moldable minds with a whole lot of commitment ahead as well. I think the best of both worlds would be a mid-level AFSOC AC/IP who knows CAS and has a T-38 background. All of the 11Fs I know in AFSOC have either separated completely or gone to reserve units in extremely small numbers. 

I’m not sure what it is like at other UPT bases, but the FAIPs here don’t seem jazzed about anything unless it has afterburners or a 30mm poking out the front.

I am being selfish, but I would prefer the SOF LA program to be in a shitty geographic location. I think it would separate the people who think it’s a fun gig with a great NW FL view from those who love the CAS mission and are willing to homebase anywhere for it. 

I know the turboprop track is going to be a thing in the future, but I think you need a few of the LA planes or high-fidelity sims at the UPT base for screening and selection. I don’t believe a year in the T-6 will be sufficient to ID appropriate traits. 

For my two unrequested cents, I think LA should (if it happens and is beyond a BPC building mission) keep the pre-requisites fairly wide and recruit from the whole of the AF flying community.  

The U-2 is a good model, different mission and a difficult plane to master with high level of expertise demanded, but repeating that model in LA would keep the net wide to gather talent and has a precedent for success.  The aircraft (LA) is / would be inexpensive enough that a full syllabus teaching the attack mission set from basics to advanced could be accomplished, dudes would not have to come with previous experience to lessen the required flight/sim hours in an LA program, IMHO and very scientific bar napkin calculations.

Keeping the door open for dudes who have the talent, developed skills, demonstrated ability in their first assignment but their time / scores at UPT didn't set them up for an Attack aircraft assignment right out of the chute seems reasonable.  They would likely not be the majority of LA crew but methinks they could be a reasonable percentage without putting risk to a potential LA program in terms of training required to achieve required proficiency.

Not familiar with the IFF syllabus but 30 missions at 1.5 hours each and guessing at $1500 per flight hour if the LA is ever bought is the AT-6 or A-29 comes to about $67,500 in flight hour cost, not sure what the expendables  would come but guessing $10k per student seems reasonable.  Other costs would come in also (range fees, contractor OPFOR support, travel costs for off-station missions, etc..) but I think you could probably train a crew for about $100-125K in a 30 to 35 mission syllabus with AT-6/A-29.  Scorpion would be more but worth it...  

That cost is low enough that if you had someone from a non-tactical background and 30 to 35 flying missions is a lot training, seems to me (from an outsider's view) you should be able to accept a capable student and train to standards, regardless of background.

Do you think, would 30 to 35 missions in an FTU syllabus cover Surface Attack, CAS, ISR focused missions, etc... to an acceptable degree for initial quals?

 

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1 hour ago, Clark Griswold said:

.  

That cost is low enough that if you had someone from a non-tactical background and 30 to 35 flying missions is a lot training, seems to me (from an outsider's view) you should be able to accept a capable student and train to standards, regardless of background.

Do you think, would 30 to 35 missions in an FTU syllabus cover Surface Attack, CAS, ISR focused missions, etc... to an acceptable degree for initial quals?

 

Disclaimer: I have no idea how long a 11F syllabus is. 

Your average RPA pilot (18x) gets about 3 months of T-6 instrument SIMs and about 30 events (sims+”flights”) in a MQ-9 to be CMR. Keeping in mind that is basic transit procedures, basic ISR/CAS, and with the autopilot hold modes always on. No formation, no takeoff/landing, and not ever putting their ass on the line  

Take a average ish UPT grad or heavy cross flow dude and throw them in a LA program and I would say 30-40 flights and another 30 or so of SIMs would probably get you in the ball park. Assumption being they have a good basic pilot back ground,  a CSO in the back running the sensors/mission set, and a expierenced Flight lead. 

 

Edited by viper154
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15 hours ago, Standby said:

I am being selfish, but I would prefer the SOF LA program to be in a shitty geographic location. I think it would separate the people who think it’s a fun gig with a great NW FL

Nailed it!  Hitters ONLY apply.  I want the guys who want it for the mission not because it sounds cool or the location is great.  I'd prefer there be no focus other than building a sustainable cadre for the future of the program.  The last thing you want to happen with this program is it gets turned into some kind of goddamn flying club and screws the pooch for being a sustainable program well into the future. 

In a perfect world you'd put it at an austere location (outfield of Eglin...WAY out) and build a bunch of steely eyed killers to carry the reputation well into the future. 

Who knows...

Cooter

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3 hours ago, Cooter said:

Nailed it!  Hitters ONLY apply.  I want the guys who want it for the mission not because it sounds cool or the location is great.  I'd prefer there be no focus other than building a sustainable cadre for the future of the program.  The last thing you want to happen with this program is it gets turned into some kind of goddamn flying club and screws the pooch for being a sustainable program well into the future. 

In a perfect world you'd put it at an austere location (outfield of Eglin...WAY out) and build a bunch of steely eyed killers to carry the reputation well into the future. 

Who knows...

Cooter

What are you two smoking because I want some?

Place it in an austere location (Cannon)?  How would you build a sustainable cadre for the future in an austere location?  That will not help with USAF retention or be TFI sustainable with AFRC.  There’s a reason why the 2 SOS is located at Hurlburt and why there is no AFRC squadron at Cannon.  

There are already a bunch of “steely eyed killers” at Hurlburt and Duke that can and will hack the mission.  

Edited by Tank
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On basing, there's no need for self-inflicted wounds...

Distribute evenly across the CONUS looking for joint basing to be near training partners.  

For the ARC, same story, look for units/bases with consistent training opportunities.  UTAs at those units should be coordinated with customers so a DSG at any drill could fly a solid training mission rather than attending a Green Dot class.

Figure a buy of 110 tails:

20 to the FTU/Lead Wing (Associate Unit), 90 distributed in 10's to 9 Wings, 5 AD & 4 ARC.  

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9 hours ago, Cooter said:

The last thing you want to happen with this program is it gets turned into some kind of goddamn flying club and screws the pooch for being a sustainable program well into the future.

Yes, I hear the U-2 program is pretty terrible 😂.

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1 hour ago, MC5Wes said:

How U.S. Taxpayers Are Spending $1.8B For Afghanistan To Fly A Couple Dozen A-29 Attack Planes

The estimated annual sustainment costs alone are more than twice what the U.S. Air Force pays to operate a squadron of F-16s for a year.

Quote

 

In 2013, the RAND Corporation evaluated the costs associated with operating and maintaining U.S. Air Force units flying F-16 Viper fighter jets, which are much more expensive to operate and sustain than the A-29. Using Fiscal Year 2010 dollars, the think tank estimated that it cost the Air Force approximately $63.6 million – closer to $70 million in 2018 dollars – to keep Alabama Air National Guard's 187th Fighter Wing, which has around 22 Block 30 F-16C/D Viper fighter jets, running for 12 months. 

Using RAND's figures, the annual operating cost of a U.S. Air Force F-16 squadron in 2013, adjusted for inflation, was less than half that of what the Afghan Air Force could find itself spending to operate an equivalent number of A-29s for a year. The annual ICS costs alone are comparable to the costs the 100th Fighter Squadron was incurring when the think tank conducted its study

 

 

So based on this information we should buy US Pilots more F-16's then right :thumbsup:

 

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Ah yes, "the military should only be staffed by childless people/garrison people shouldn't be allowed to serve in uniform" canard. Couldn't find my salt shaker for lunch today, thanks for the glove save! LOL 

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Speaking of light aircraft. When did the Air Force pick up some Bell 412 Helicopters?

I'm about to retire and on the Sierra Nevada web page they are looking for Pilots and Mechanics for Hurlburt Field.

https://snc.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/SNC_External_Career_Site/job/Mary-Esther-FL/Pilot-Rotor-Wing--Bell-412----Clearance-Required_R0006174

 

 

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When the 6 SOS had the RW-FID mission they contracted out their 412 flights to get their pilots qualified on them. Countries like Thailand and Indonesia use Bell 412s, which were some of the JCET customers.

Edited by Breckey

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59 minutes ago, IDALPHA said:

You surprised bruh?!

Unfortunately no but I wonder if this with the training / cooperation done with the Nigerian AF if this will influence / encourage the AF on whether or not to actually acquire our own LAAR and then if many of our allies / partners are flying A-29s, will that shut out the AT6?

As the Scorpion is no longer in contention for this potential ACC led acquisition program, I am neutral-ish on the turboprop contenders  but if it were up to me, I would select the AT6.

LAE has finished with Dec being slated for RFPs and Sept 19 for selection.  Low chance IMO but better than no chance one will be acquired.

https://www.janes.com/article/82236/us-air-force-releases-timeline-for-light-attack-aircraft-procurement

But it has some fans in Congress:

https://www.airforcetimes.com/opinion/commentary/2018/09/09/commentary-the-us-air-force-needs-a-light-attack-aircraft/

Who the hell knows what they'll do, I was surprised when the Airbus tanker was first selected over the Boeing back 2008 and even though that lasted for about 10 seconds till Boeing protested and wrested it from Airbus it was / is an example of the AF doing the unexpected sometimes.

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Honestly at this point I'm giving up hope on the light attack thing, nobody high up is willing to pull the trigger on it, and at this point it feels like we're just spending money to spend money.

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19 hours ago, Clark Griswold said:

A-29s made by SNC selected by Nigeria and approved for sale:

http://alert5.com/2018/12/01/sierra-nevada-corp-given-contract-to-supply-12-a-29s-to-nigeria/

But we still don't have one after 12+ years of "studying" it...

You’ve got a better chance of seeing Jesus blow Buddha than anyone in the CAF flying a USAF Light Attack in the foreseeable future.  Barring some major shift in either USAF mentality or leadership the AF is going to continue to drag it’s feet on this until it eventually goes away.

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Agreed with all sentiments that the chance of LAAR actually happening is low and about a snowball’s chance in hell if ACC is the MAJCOM to make that call but is AFSOC still a realistic possibility to acquire a LAAR?
Core functions are not technically still doctrine so could AFSOC just make a play for having another fires platform? Is there the appetite for this?


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1 hour ago, Clark Griswold said:

Agreed with all sentiments that the chance of LAAR actually happening is low and about a snowball’s chance in hell if ACC is the MAJCOM to make that call but is AFSOC still a realistic possibility to acquire a LAAR?
Core functions are not technically still doctrine so could AFSOC just make a play for having another fires platform? Is there the appetite for this?


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No.  AFSOC not buying unless CAF buys.

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Basic AFSOC C-130 game plan. Big Blue buys them, and AFSOC slaps all the fancy stuff on them. Exact same for Light Attack.

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6 hours ago, DirkDiggler said:

 Barring some major shift in either USAF mentality or leadership the AF is going to continue to drag it’s feet on this until it eventually goes away.

Seems to also be Big Blue’s strategy for the pilot shortage. Come to think of it, this the apparent de facto mentality for any number of problems facing the AF. 

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9 hours ago, Prozac said:

Seems to also be Big Blue’s strategy for the pilot shortage. Come to think of it, this the apparent de facto mentality for any number of problems facing the AF. 

Shack

 

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23 hours ago, tac airlifter said:

No.  AFSOC not buying unless CAF buys.

Wrong:

AFSOC might be lead command soon because there’s not enough money in the FYDP to support an ACC buy.  

AFSOC doesn’t need as many LA to support their designated mission sets and the money in the FYDP will cover an entire AFSOC buy.  

Edited by Tank

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Yup.

Consider a 60 airplane buy, figuring acquisition per tail at $20 mil a tail for fly away cost, operation at $2,000 per hour (likely less but plan conservatively) and sustainment at $300k per tail in depot mx, logistics, training expendables and other costs (again very conservative).

Program in 750 hours per tail per FY (fly it a lot) and that groks out to $90 mil in flight hour costs and $18 mil in sustainment costs, plus Murphy's Law costs (guess that at 15% extra) so that sums up to just over $124 mil.  

Spread the acquisition, FTU and other start up costs over 3 FYs and that's about $420 mil (add another 5% per tail when acquiring)

Not chump change but affordable when you consider that if you replaced LAAR in CAPs for 4/5th Gens when you could (AOR permitting) - you come up with the money very to pay for it quickly because it is so much cheaper to fly than 4/5th Gens.

At $40k per flight hour (figuring in tanker support) generically for 4/5th Gens, to get the $124 mil per FY to afford the LAAR you would need to replace about 3,100 flight hours from the 4/5th Gen fleets.  

But since you're not flying those fighters to do those missions, you don't need to fly those tankers so in reality its not even that many hours, split it between the fighter and the tanker and now you only need to cut 1,550 fighter and 1,550 tanker flight hours and you've found your money to pay for your new and very useful, affordable and relevant LAAR's per FY operational costs.

What you would have to cut / reprogram to acquire in those 3 FYs assuming your rich uncle doesn't come thru with an unexpected windfall is the $420 mil question... likely you should retire your 5% of your oldest / brokest 4th Gens and that would likely pay for all if not most of it.  

Another cost saver would be to not send selectees for the LAAR program to IFF if they are not already graduates and train them in their mission fundamentals in the LAAR, frees up another slot for dudes selected for fighters.

Just buy one AF... the math will work itself out, morale will improve and this will be one step towards getting your mojo back...

at-6.jpg?quality=85

*Posted in the naive hope someone who is important in the AF with enough authority and clout will read and realize we don't have to take an elephant rifle every time we go hunting.

Edited by Clark Griswold
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