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AF Light Air Support Aircraft

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CH, If I remember right the AF had already basically fucked up the plan? Something about not being able to actually "give em away" after we'd stood up a small foreign AF.

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CH, If I remember right the AF had already basically fucked up the plan? Something about not being able to actually "give em away" after we'd stood up a small foreign AF.

Not really a USAF fuck up, more a function of our system and the slowness with which the gears grind. Giving airplanes to another country is a function of Foreign Military Sales (FMS), which is unfortunately a program managed by the state department. Light-attack has the stigma of the F-20 program which in theory has some parallels...how can we expect another nation to buy something we won't. This is complicated by the fact that countries like Iraq want F-16s...

The real issue is what can we afford to buy AND operate in our current and future fiscal environment. Does anyone really think we are going to get 2000 F-35's?

Put the blue koolaid aside for a minute and answer some honest questions;

Do we need stealth for EVERYTHING?

As I recall the A-10 did just find in OIF/OEF?

Not saying light-attack equals the A-10, but is there utility in a platform that has 80% the capability at 1/100th the operating cost.

Starbaby is thinking out of the container like some old school dudes we celebrate on this board, maybe we should think before we mock him. Yeah I get the point about the current state of strike eagle manning, but building a corps of aviators for this type of platform is NOT an impossible task. How many guard/reserve units are in danger of losing or have already lost their F-16s/A-10s/F-15s? Something tells me we could think out of the container and find a way to stand up a cadre and build up from there. In this kind of scenario we might even increase pilot production...we might marry light-attack units to Reaper units...so many possibilities to advance the art and thought of airpower are crapped on because of myopia.

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I completely agree, I just don't think the OA-X concept would work in it's current inexpensive mold in the major conventional scenarios in PACAF. Could it? Yes, but you'd have to spend a bunch more money on R&D to make it survivable and still have a reasonable payload and range. I'm going to stop on this point as I don't think I can go any further on this board.

I really doubt we'll get all the F-35s big blue wants as well, and a combined purchase of OA-X and 4.5 gen fighters (either more F-16s or F-15s) could fill the numbers gap. I don't have the article in front of me as I'm mid PCS, but if remember right he was thinking several hundred aircraft. It just seems a bit excessive, granted I realize the article was essentially brain-storming and I didn't mean to sound overly critical. I would think something on the order of 200ish aircraft would be appropriate, but then again that's purely a gut reaction.

I guess the first question is how large of a major conventional capability do we really need? Then we can add additional "small war" capability.

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You guys have me thinking outside the box before they bury me in one. Of course we should take on that aircraft system and mission as well as the following. The Army needs to get out of the fixed wing business period. They only have 250-300 fixed wing aircraft total vs over 7000 helos. Their bread and butter is helo operations. Their helo drivers are almost as good as our drivers. (This is an AF forum isn't it?) Talking about additional 900 AF pilots at the most. Heck, if the Army fixed wing drivers have a 4 yr degree, bring them over from their dark side. The funding for the transfer should come from the Army's pocketbook. By the way, I bet you will have more than a few AF volunteers from the RPA/UAS operators if given the option.

An agreement was made between the 2 CoS regarding the C-27J in 2009. The AF ANG will fly and maintain the aircraft but be under total Army operational control in theater. This operational control concept hasn't been done since the Vietnam conflict. This concept can work for the entire Army fixed wing fleet once transferred to the AF. Since all Army aviators are helo rated prior to being fixed wing pilots, they can return to their core aircraft.

Both services are flying the C-37 and even the MC-12 in theater, why? If the mission is different, the AF can perform it. The AF has the training resources and personnel to make the transition work. The AF shouldn't turn down any mission regarding fixed wing aircraft in supporting the Army. We need something for our Lt pilots to fly other than a console. So what if our junior Officers get their hands a little dirty working with the Army in the early years. Great career development. AF get smart, and grap all the fixed wing aircraft you can get your hands on before there is NO NEED for Pilots.

No need in taking over Naval aircraft. No Per Deim on board ship and the female sailors are off limits as well when underway. I guess with the Navy, the guys are off limits as well for this month anyway. My God, the Navy/Marine air arm does suffer.

Remember, I'm thinking outside the box before they bury me in one. No dirt, I'm still breathing.

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Put the blue koolaid aside for a minute and answer some honest questions;

If they were drinking the blue koolaid, they'd want everything to be a UAV...

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Inside the Navy - 07/04/2011

Light strike aircraft could decrease fuel convoys

CENTCOM Drafts CONOPS For Combat Dragon, Seeks 90-Day Evaluation

With the Imminent Fury program finished, U.S. Central Command has moved on and drafted a concept of operations for a possible successor known as "Combat Dragon II," a program that could not only provide an agile, light-attack strike aircraft to warfighters but also drastically reduce fuel convoys in Afghanistan, according to a portion of the CONOPS reviewed by Inside the Navy.

Combat Dragon II would utilize turboprop OV-10 Broncos -- as first reported by sister publication Inside the Air Force in December -- as an agile and inexpensive "find-fix-finish" aircraft in support of troops on the ground so they don't have to call in high-end assets like F-15E Strike Eagles or F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

CENTCOM believes the aircraft could slash the cost of providing strike support, as the CONOPS states that a light-attack aircraft would cost between $1,200 and $2,500 per flight hour, compared to operating costs ranging from $8,522 per hour for the A-10 all the way up to $19,568 per hour for the F-15E. More importantly, however, CENTCOM hopes such an aircraft will greatly cut down on fuel convoys and reduce troops' exposure to improvised explosive devices. It would take 83.4 16-truck fuel convoys per year to support a section of two F-15s, compared to just 6.5 for a section of OV-10s, according to the CONOPS.

"In a COIN [counter-insurgency] environment, reducing logistical supply lines limits vulnerabilities and reduces casualties," the CONOPS states. "Using expeditionary STOL [short-take-off-and-landing] aircraft with low fuel-burn rates could significantly reduce ground resupply of fuel."

Combat Dragon comes on the heels of Imminent Fury, a program that involved leasing Brazilian Embraer Super Tucano turboprop light-attack, counter-insurgency aircraft. Congress essentially killed the program last year when it refused to reprogram funding that would have gone toward leasing the four aircraft. The program became bogged down in politics when lawmakers asked the Navy to consider fielding an American turboprop.

Combat Dragon aims to get around that problem by focusing on a capability rather than a specific platform.

"It's designed to solve a specific problem," said Col. Gary Kling, executive assistant to Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, commander of CENTCOM. "The problem statement is: how do we increase synergy and detailed air coordination between the air and ground combat elements, expand the capacity and increase the effectiveness of air power in a COIN strategy while significantly reducing resource requirements and preserving our high-end assets for the future?"

Kling acknowledged there was some overlap between Imminent Fury and Combat Dragon, but argued that Combat Dragon is not actually related to the prior program and also takes a broader focus.

"Combat Dragon proposes using a turboprop . . . based on cost-effectiveness," he said. "But that's just one pillar. Combat Dragon is based on four pillars."

The other three pillars are capability, capacity and enhanced synergy.

"What is the right capability to fight a counter-insurgency war when the enemy has limited air defense assets which we've been fighting since 2001?" Kling asked. "Do you really need an F-18, F-16? In some cases, absolutely you do, but in many cases to achieve greater capacity to support our regiments and battalions spread out over a country the size of Texas, you need something with a long loiter, something you can ideally find, fix and finish the target, and something that can engage with low collateral damage weapons and can integrate with both the ground and the general-purpose forces."

A light aircraft could also synergize with ground forces, he said.

"You're flying over the battlespace for a longer period of time without having to go back and forth, but more importantly you're flying, briefing, living with the regimental combat team," the colonel said. "You can't do that with high-end assets."

Kling emphasized, however, that CENTCOM is "not unhappy with the support we get, but we can always improve."

He said while Imminent Fury was perceived as being focused on special operations forces, its CONOPS actually had plans to support general-purpose forces, and Combat Dragon would also take that focus.

CENTCOM conceived Combat Dragon last summer, and since then the command has progressed past the concept phase to the point of writing a CONOPS and briefing Congress. Kling said the program has gotten support from Army Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of Afghanistan forces and now the CIA director, and Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. "A lot of people are supportive of this idea," Kling said.

Combat Dragon would involve a 90-day evaluation of two to four planes in Afghanistan with the possibility to extend another 90 days. Some of the missions the aircraft would perform include: close air support, armed reconnaissance, combat search and rescue, interdiction and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, according to the CONOPS. Additional missions could include casualty evacuation, emergency resupply and insertions or extractions.

One of the largest hurdles is convincing the services to fund an endeavor that many might see as a threat to other programs and scarce resources, but Kling argued that the effort is simply to test a concept and not to build an airplane. He noted that NASA, the Department of State, Department of Forestry and the Philippines government still flies OV-10s, a "combat-proven airplane."

Kling estimated it would cost in the $25 million range to remilitarize the airplanes, and said CENTCOM would try to avoid putting the onus on the services financially by getting as much funding as possible to support it. He said much of that money is recoverable because CENTCOM can simply take back the parts -- such as forward-looking infrared pods -- when the evaluation is over.

CENTCOM continues to work with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, and the effort has gone "all the way up to the JROC [Joint Requirements Oversight Council]," Kling said. CENTCOM's deputy commander briefed the JROC about two and a half months ago, and "it wasn't a no, wasn't an absolute yes," he said, calling that a positive sign.

-- Dan Taylor

The return of the Bronco...

If they could just bring the A-1s back I might come out of retirement.

Edited by Rainman A-10

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If they could just bring the A-1s back I might come out of retirement.

What a beast of an aircraft. Why is it that we are always in desperate need of an plane that has an "A" in front of it, but it gets put on the backburner because it isn't sexy enough? Our inventory should already be replete with something like the A-1 to supplement our A-10s. The higher, faster, farther, stealthier, expensive-er, maintenance-ier hypnotic mantra never ceases to sucker our leaders down the rabbit hole.

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The higher, faster, farther, stealthier, expensive-er, maintenance-ier hypnotic mantra never ceases to sucker our leaders down the rabbit hole.

Truth is, we need lots of each kind.

That is until the UCAV is full up.

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That is until the UCAV is full up.

That will not be for a long time, depending on your definition of "full up".

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That will not be for a long time, depending on your definition of "full up".

But the real point is you're not saying it won't ever happen.

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But the real point is you're not saying it won't ever happen.

Nope, not at all. Now that real airplane companies are spooling up their drone businesses, hopefully the abortions that GA has plopped out will soon be phased out.

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Nope, not at all. Now that real airplane companies are spooling up their drone businesses, hopefully the abortions that GA has plopped out will soon be phased out.

2!

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Nope, not at all. Now that real airplane companies are spooling up their drone businesses, hopefully the abortions that GA has plopped out will soon be phased out.

3!

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The Reserve and Guard will also use the BRAC argument to keep UAS' off their ramp and as always they will over-promise their ability to deliver qualified people.

Nice.

--25 Year Reservist....and I agree with you

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Now that real airplane companies are spooling up their drone businesses, hopefully the abortions that GA has plopped out will soon be phased out.

You mean companies like Northrop-Grumman, and their top-notch RQ-4?

Just curious what GA companies you do not like.

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You mean companies like Northrop-Grumman, and their top-notch RQ-4?

Just curious what GA companies you do not like.

I haven't heard much good about that airplane, but it's difficult for me to imagine a bigger POS than what General Atomic s builds.

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Probably not.

Sure they will. They'll even let you hop out if you want.

ov10jumpers.jpg

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...or they'll take the option of bringing 200 more lbs of fuel instead.

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...or just put another pilot in there or maybe a nav type. ABM in a light attack plane is about as likely as pigs flying...not a knock it's just reality. I'm dreaming of the opportunity too as a nav but am not exactly holding out hope.

If we as a service can get something, anything in numbers with decent light-attack, armed recon capes to supplement the fast-movers and Gunship/Dragon Spear-type platforms we already have that would be a win.

Edited by nsplayr

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That's right up there with ABMs who thought they should fill the 'Mission Commander' role on the MC-12Ws, too.

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If we as a service can get something, anything in numbers with decent light-attack, armed recon capes to supplement the fast-movers and Gunship/Dragon Spear-type platforms we already have that would be a win.

That modifier removed, they're testing such a machine right now. It's too bad, really, because I think any one of us would rather fly an AT-6 or OV-10.

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