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On 2/22/2019 at 10:52 PM, Tank said:

Has the Air Force explained how an operational Navy pilot (whose experience appears to have been mostly in an FBW fighter) and a non-fighter AF WSO, came to be flying asymmetric weapons release tests in an ejection seat equipped aircraft with manual controls? And just how wise was all this when they collectively had only about 10 hours' experience in the Super Tucano?

Are these questions people are asking, or able to answer?

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https://www.defensenews.com/interviews/2019/02/27/us-air-force-chief-on-the-f-35-quarterback-new-and-improved-f-15-and-future-of-light-attack/

 

What’s going on with the light-attack program? 

We’ve been very consistent about the strategy from the beginning. First and foremost, this is all about allies and partners. The National Defense Strategy says that we’re going to invest and increase our relationships with current allies and partners, and build more allies and partners. And because so many are fighting violent extremism at their borders, this was our approach to say: “OK, how do we support the National Defense Strategy by building a weapon system?"

We learned in the past that if it’s good enough for us to buy, it tends to be good enough for our allies and partners. And many of the international air chiefs, tell me: “Hey, Dave, I got this going on in my country, I’ve got to deal with it; I want to join you in a fight, but I can’t afford F-16s, I’m never going to get F-35 and I need something else because my weapon systems I’ve got right now are getting older. What do you have to offer me?”

The second thing is that as we build the Air Force we need, I have no place I can go within the United States Air Force to trade away capacity to build light attack. It has to be additive. It does do some things inside the Air Force that are very helpful, but it’s not a requirement inside the Air Force. This is a requirement for our allies and partners that we’re working towards. So given those two fundamental assumptions, we opened up to industry to this experiment. And I cannot thank the two companies that joined us enough for their partnership today because they’ve been extraordinary and we’ve learned a ton.

Some countries may be better to have an unmanned option; some countries would be better to have a rotary-wing option; some countries want to do a fixed wing but turboprop; some countries want to do fixed wing but turbojet. So we were able to start experimenting with just one of those. So now what can we do to expand the experiment to look at, what is the right mix? And how do we bring allies and partners in right now with us — not just periodically parachuting in?

For us to issue an RFP would set an expectation that we’re ready to go to selection when we’re still working our way through what the strategy would be. That would be, in my mind, a bit irresponsible. I talked to both the CEOs, and we want to make sure we strengthen the partnership we already built as we go forward.

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That's a lot of words from the Chief and talking to SNC and Textron about how he "cannot thank the two companies that joined us enough for their partnership." 

Meanwhile, other sources are saying industry may not trust Big Blue on future partnerships unless there's money upfront.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2019/02/18/air_force_may_lose_credibility_with_industry_over_light_attack_decision_114190.html

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That's a lot of words from the Chief and talking to SNC and Textron about how he "cannot thank the two companies that joined us enough for their partnership." 
Meanwhile, other sources are saying industry may not trust Big Blue on future partnerships unless there's money upfront.
https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2019/02/18/air_force_may_lose_credibility_with_industry_over_light_attack_decision_114190.html

After this and the debacle of Joint Cargo Aircraft big blue is now big blue balls

Yeah, I’m really into this it’s really cool ... several years later .... yeah don’t worry about it... but I may be interested later, I’ll let you know...

Manned Light Attack / ISR has to be assigned to another branch if the Joint Team wants it as US military capability, after this latest iteration of pump-fake, give it to the USMC as they are doctrinally OTE’d for small wars

now would it need to be small deck capable? maybe but that’s another matter...


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Glad I took the “under” bet when people were predicting how many airframes the AF would buy! What a freaking debacle.

If I were Textron or SNC or anyone else I’d be very leery of any further “experimentation” that required company money for development, and that’s a real shame because the industry has solutions for battlefield problems in this area that could and should be fielded ASAP.

It sucks even worse that there’s a new gold star family because of light attack and we accomplished literally nothing that wasn’t already know at ground speed zero about three years ago.

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Hate to say it, but "not a requirement inside the Air Force" kind of talk makes us look straight-up dishonest as a service.

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“That does not mean that indefinitely suspending the LAA procurement was a wise move, particularly given the Air Force’s desire to demonstrate that it can be a smart and agile consumer.”

Smart and agile are two words that I would never use to describe the Air Force. It took years to adjust the length of SOS, a decade and a half to acquire a new tanker, and now years of stringing along the light attack idea. What a lethargic mass of bureaucracy we work for.


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Lol, ya don’t say. I’m sure Sec. Shannahan is utterly shocked that the mighty Boeing T-X may suddenly be the perfect fit for many other roles beyond training now that the rest of the competition has been cleared away...

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If they had just put a f*ckin' afterburner on the Scorpion would that have made them happy and then we could have bought it?

 

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1 hour ago, Danger41 said:

No, because a Textron executive isn’t a higher up in the government.

they do have a history of questionable decisions...

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what fucking experiments do we need to do? grow a fucking pair and make a decision (put your name/reputation by it...looking at you senior leaders)...and go fucking execute. god damn it.

 

smells like a saving of face for the AF IRT screwing over the contractors

Edited by BashiChuni
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what ing experiments do we need to do?

2 - this mission has moved on from the original requirement from the conflict(s) circa early 2000s

 

“Experimenting” is pointless with these two types

 

Light attack development for the 20s and beyond should be to develop a manned/partially manned platform capable of delivering

- A2G fires focused on PGMs and a DE system capable of lethal anti personnel / disabling unarmored vehicles effects

- ISR with up to 2 organic sensors and/or the ability to carry an Agile Pod plus other mission pods. Provision for BLOS system if desired for an ISR primary mission and/or partially crewed.

- Low on mission support requirements either for logistics or operations. AR capable but enough range / endurance it is likely not needed, 2000nm ferry range, 500nm combat radius with 1.5 on station @ 10k with no external tanks and an SCL of 6 PGMs and 2 defensive missiles. Either self-cueing thru multiple organic sensors or high connectivity to net(s) and cued thru by on mission partners

- Self-defensive capable to low/moderate threat environments. Can defend and successfully egress from a pop up radar threat, if engaged by an air threat capable of defensive maneuver and a defensive missile shot. 5G turn, with SCL and 600+ knots dash speed

- Reasonable signature reduction and mitigation.

- Modest acquisition and low operating cost. $45 mil a tail with sensors and $4k an hour or less to fly.

- 2 crew but can be configured for 1 on board crew with additional fuel and 1 virtual crew via datalink

 

This is just my ranting but the AF used to be known for innovation, get back to our roots big blue

 

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http://airforcemag.com/Features/Pages/2019/March 2019/OA-X-Projected-to-Cost-More-Than-1-Billion-Through-2024.aspx

 

According to 2020 budget documents released Monday, the service plans to buy 24 aircraft over the next five years: four aircraft for $160 million in 2022, and 10 aircraft in both 2023 and 2024 for $400 million each year.”

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$40 million per tail? I sure hope any future larger buy yields significantly lower unit cost.


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Lots of maneuvering room there...

From the article:

Funding projections in the five-year outlook are subject to change as requirements evolve... 

LAA [light attack aircraft] squadrons will provide a deployable and sustainable multirole attack capability, capable of performing a diverse array of attack missions, including but not limited to close air support, armed reconnaissance, strike coordination and reconnaissance, airborne forward air control, and interdiction,” according to budget documents.

The new aircraft could also fly combat search-and-rescue, rescue escort, and maritime air support missions, the Air Force said.

LAA will provide a deployable, persistent attack capability that can be employed with low footprint and light logistical support requirements.

My grumbling two cents... I'm getting the feeling we are looking at Light Attack for the last wars not the ones likely in the future.

As we go into the next generation of long term warfare in failed states/ungoverned areas (hybrid warfare, grey zone conflicts, COIN/LIC, etc...) a manned light attack platform is part of the air mission but one more robust/capable than we currently envision.

Next Generation Light Attack (to me) is precision fires delivered with additional effects (ISR, EA, etc..) organically, capable of moderate mission endurance with little or no logistical mission support (DCA, AR or large ground footprint).

Consider a hypothetical mission in a hypothetical failed state called Venezuelastan, where the country's not in civil war but not in stability, military elements of it have split and some are receiving support from outside actors, governments and some direct military support in deployments of foreign military forces.  

We support one side(s) and there is sporadic fighting where we provide kinetic/non-kinetic support to our local partners and likewise for the other side(s) with their allies.  The foreign military forces are not targeting each other openly but could attack each other in about 6.9 seconds if things change.  

To provide that support with a manned platform and provide the level of effects we want to while keeping the risk at an acceptable level and keeping the costs sustainable, we won't need a platform that can't deliver enough effects and is incapable of defending itself thus incurring an unacceptable cost to enable it and defend it; all the current offerings of turboprop based light attack suffer from that.  We will need a platform that is not a liability in itself while on mission, one that doesn't normally need DCA or AR support and is cost-effective enough to fly repetitively in long, slow progressing operations.

That said just to be clear is not to discount a light attack platform for a SOCOM type mission (individual or coordinated one time strikes supporting SOF) but for a conventional type mission (major campaign or operation using combined or coalition forces over extended time), this is where a Next Gen Light Attack is needed IMHO.

Not to padlock on specific aircraft but something like a modernized/modified A-7, modified Gripen or enhanced Scorpion is what I would envision filling this role.

Good Strike Capability, Tactical ISR, Self-Defense Capable, Excellent Range/Endurance with other modern effects capabilities.  All that at a modest and sustainable price/footprint.  

If we are willing to pay $40 million a tail for light attack platform, I think we can/should get more capability.

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Tons of maneuver room, but I don’t think this is going to end well. Delays, cutbacks, more delays, goldplate until its unaffordable — Tried and true Pentagon tactics. We missed the window to get this thing made.

The LAA might show up in AFSOC but that’ll be the extent. This thing is still on the books for one reason: John McCain. Big blue woulda killed it long ago if it coulda. It has nothing to do with mission, and everything to do with money and politics.

And cuts are coming — when we start moving money around to dry out and repair Offutt, and/or once the decision is made to “warm status” Tyndall - ala Homestead... even faster if we have to cut flying hours to pay for border wall construction.

All options are on the table at this point.

It’s going to be a bumpy year. Not sure LAA has much altitude or airspeed left.

Chuck

Edited by Chuck17
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The Pentagon doesn't lack for money; what it lacks is the ability to prioritize between the must-have and the nice-to-have, which is in turn, exacerbated by Congressional meddling/vote-buying.  People are so emotionally wrapped up in the nice-to-haves (which is why I won't give any specifics here) that we can't even have the discussion. 

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9 hours ago, Clark Griswold said:

Lots of maneuvering room there...

From the article:

Funding projections in the five-year outlook are subject to change as requirements evolve... 

LAA [light attack aircraft] squadrons will provide a deployable and sustainable multirole attack capability, capable of performing a diverse array of attack missions, including but not limited to close air support, armed reconnaissance, strike coordination and reconnaissance, airborne forward air control, and interdiction,” according to budget documents.

The new aircraft could also fly combat search-and-rescue, rescue escort, and maritime air support missions, the Air Force said.

LAA will provide a deployable, persistent attack capability that can be employed with low footprint and light logistical support requirements.

My grumbling two cents... I'm getting the feeling we are looking at Light Attack for the last wars not the ones likely in the future.

As we go into the next generation of long term warfare in failed states/ungoverned areas (hybrid warfare, grey zone conflicts, COIN/LIC, etc...) a manned light attack platform is part of the air mission but one more robust/capable than we currently envision.

Next Generation Light Attack (to me) is precision fires delivered with additional effects (ISR, EA, etc..) organically, capable of moderate mission endurance with little or no logistical mission support (DCA, AR or large ground footprint).

Consider a hypothetical mission in a hypothetical failed state called Venezuelastan, where the country's not in civil war but not in stability, military elements of it have split and some are receiving support from outside actors, governments and some direct military support in deployments of foreign military forces.  

We support one side(s) and there is sporadic fighting where we provide kinetic/non-kinetic support to our local partners and likewise for the other side(s) with their allies.  The foreign military forces are not targeting each other openly but could attack each other in about 6.9 seconds if things change.  

To provide that support with a manned platform and provide the level of effects we want to while keeping the risk at an acceptable level and keeping the costs sustainable, we won't need a platform that can't deliver enough effects and is incapable of defending itself thus incurring an unacceptable cost to enable it and defend it; all the current offerings of turboprop based light attack suffer from that.  We will need a platform that is not a liability in itself while on mission, one that doesn't normally need DCA or AR support and is cost-effective enough to fly repetitively in long, slow progressing operations.

That said just to be clear is not to discount a light attack platform for a SOCOM type mission (individual or coordinated one time strikes supporting SOF) but for a conventional type mission (major campaign or operation using combined or coalition forces over extended time), this is where a Next Gen Light Attack is needed IMHO.

Not to padlock on specific aircraft but something like a modernized/modified A-7, modified Gripen or enhanced Scorpion is what I would envision filling this role.

Good Strike Capability, Tactical ISR, Self-Defense Capable, Excellent Range/Endurance with other modern effects capabilities.  All that at a modest and sustainable price/footprint.  

If we are willing to pay $40 million a tail for light attack platform, I think we can/should get more capability.

A-7, Gripen or Scorpion...thought you wanted something that would not require a large logistical footprint. Or did I miss something

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Has the Air Force explained how an operational Navy pilot (whose experience appears to have been mostly in an FBW fighter) and a non-fighter AF WSO, came to be flying asymmetric weapons release tests in an ejection seat equipped aircraft with manual controls? And just how wise was all this when they collectively had only about 10 hours' experience in the Super Tucano?
Are these questions people are asking, or able to answer?


I guess all I have to say is that they are following normal SIB/AIB processes.


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A-7, Gripen or Scorpion...thought you wanted something that would not require a large logistical footprint. Or did I miss something

Modern systems designed from the gear up for dispersed / expeditionary basing
Gripen is already designed this way but my hypothetical resurrected A-7 or Super Scorpion would need designing. Basing a new, modern A-7 on new proven systems and or civil aviation ones like the current iteration of Scorpion is might be one way to get to higher availability rates
There would be a logistical footprint just not an onerous one, shoot for a jet reliable enough that could deploy with 5 to 8 MX per tail


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